Hot Topic - leadership

Good Monday morning everyone, I thought I'd start the week off tackling a controversial topic. Leadership, it is a hot topic in the world of dogs right now and many don't want to hear the word anymore. With some of the trainers who are more in the public eye "Leadership" has taken on a more physical meaning.

Leadership: an act or instance of leading; guidance; direction. This definition taken right from a dictionary. So what does this mean in terms of your dog/human relationship? The reason I decided to write about leadership this morning was the simple fact that Jessie my little Jack Russell was laying beside Tilley's octopus this morning. This means nothing to you but it is a huge step in this household.

We have three dogs in our home and two of those dogs love to destroy toys. On occasion I will purchase new very inexpensive toys for them to rip apart. This makes them happy and I love when they are happy. Now Tilley on the other hand is not a toy destroyer, no she likes to keep her toys around and attends to them like they were her pride and joy.

So you can see that this causes a problem for Tilley. It's the toy wreckers against the toy keeper. Up until last Christmas I kept Tilley's toys safe for her, putting them up high and giving them to her every once in a while. But at Christmas I realized that she would love to have her toys around all the time. So, the plan was to let Jessie and Luke know that Tilley's toys were off limits.

Not all toys are put away, my dogs have a huge basket full of Nylabones, destuffed toys and other unrecognizable items. It is the new, undestroyed toys that need to be protected. So, my plan was put into action and I was now the toy protector. Anytime Luke or Jessie looked at Tilley's toy I immediately gave them vocal feedback. It was tough, especially for Luke as he sat and watched Tilley squeak and mouth her toy. But, within a couple of weeks they were not even thinking about grabbing her toy anymore, even when it occasionally squeaked.

The only time there is a slip up in the who's toy is it scenario is when the dogs become over excited like when someone comes home or Dad is playing hide'n seek. At that point Jessie and Luke love to grab a toy and run with it. So they sometimes grab Tilley's octopus but one word from me and they realize their mistake.

This may not seem like a big deal but it is through guidance, leadership. Non of my leadership is done through physical control. Physical control is not leadership, guidance on a daily basis is leadership. Guidance is helping my dogs to understand what can and cannot happen in our home. Tilley's stash of toys are now safe from the destructive jaws of Luke and Jessie. This was a very satisfying lesson for me and a triumph for Tilley.

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