Mark's Dog Blog

The Leadership Void

No social group can survive without some form of leadership. Without leadership we have chaos. Try and have a successful sports team with no perceived leadership, or weak leadership. Try and run a successful business without there being leadership.
Place a group of people together to achieve a task, and within a very short period of time leaders will start to establish them self. Some will even compete with others within the group to try to take on that role. Eventually though, a type of social hierarchy will begin to form. This is totally instinctive behaviour that not even humans can ignore. A leadership void must be filled.
To suggest that dogs do not have this instinctive need is believing that dogs are the only social animal on the planet that do not require some form of leadership hierarchy to ensure the survival of the social group they belong too. This is a ridiculous notion, and only ensures total chaos, not only for the social group, but also for the dog itself. We see this situation in so many human and dog relationships.
Whenever a social animal senses there is a lack of leadership, instinct will dictate that that void must be filled. This is one of the areas the purely positive and force free extremists cause issue with human and dog relationships; they tend to see dogs as our friends, that do not require leadership, just lots of love and affection and bribing/luring (in most cases) with food. Love and affection alone never instils respect, only consistent and fair leadership creates respect, and hence no leadership void that needs to be filled.
If you have a dog that is controlling the family, or that is causing chaos within the family, and maybe even suffering anxiety issues, then that may be because the dog senses a lack of leadership, and therefore instinct is dictating that it must try and fill that void if nobody else within the social group is. This is no reason to get angry at your dog, as it is your job to show your dog by consistent rules and boundaries, that there is no leadership void to be filled. Being a good leader for your dog not only ensures a well behaved dog, but also places less stress on your dog, as the dog then does not instinctively feel a leadership void must be filled. Understanding this, and establishing clear and consistent leadership with your dog can help solve so many behavioural issues, and even psychological issues such as anxiety.
Being a leader for your dog is not about being a cruel tyrant, however, it also does not mean that the social group your dog belongs too, is a democracy! Be a leader your dog can trust, and wants to work for, by maintaining and enforcing clear and consistent rules and boundaries. Ensure there is no leadership void that needs to be filled...
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