Being a Leader

An effective leader is well functioning, responsive, and content. They follow through with expectations, offer reinforce for good behavior, and correction for undesirable behavior. A strong leader is confident and comfortable in their leadership role. However, if a dog doesn’t have a strong leader there can be chaos, which can create an insecure environment for a pup to grow and learn social behaviors.

Dogs seek out strong leadership – they look for someone to set up boundaries and give direction with feedback. Being consistent, understanding behavior, and being confident will create a peaceful household for everyone.

The best thing we can offer the dogs we are raising is clear communication.  We can teach them our expectations through reinforcement and reward.  Our dogs will seek out a leadership role-they look for someone to set up boundaries and give direction with feedback.

Effective leadership involves communicating what to do (positive reinforcement) instead of what not to do (correction). Offering communication through positive reinforcement and food reward is the first step in becoming an effective leader.  Think back to someone you've enjoyed working with on a project, in the workplace, or school. Di d you enjoy working with them because they let you do whatever you want? Or, did you enjoy working with them because they gave clear direction, took initiative, or provided feedback? The first option is vague and has so many directions it can spiral into. The second option are some characteristics of an effective leader. Usually, the second option is more enjoyable because they person communicates clearly and effectively.

An effective leader does the following:

  • Understands that dogs and humans think differently.
  • Understands expectations should be set based on the dog's age, maturity, the environment, and a variety of other conditions and variables.
  • Sets expectations before working with the dog.
  • Is flexible and can adapt their methods and ideas.
  • Gives clear communication about expectations of the pup or dog's behavior through reinforcement.
  • Reinforces desirable behavior frequently and effectively. 
  • Follows through on verbal cues.
  • Speaks in a confident and calm manner.
  • Uses body language and voice confidently.
  • Corrects undesirable behavior.
  • Is consistent and fair when correcting undesirable behavior.

The most important of those characteristics is reinforcing and praising appropriate behaviors and correcting undesirable behavior. When your puppy enters your home they are in a time in their life where they’re learning social behaviors, how to respond to leadership, and boundaries. The more you reinforce good behavior as an effective leader the more your pup will seek out to do the desired behavior.

On the other hand, pups don’t know that certain behaviors are unacceptable yet. It is up to you to establish rules and consistently follow through with them. Good house manners and response to verbal cues are all learned behaviors. The more information you give to your puppy through praise and reinforcement the better their understanding of what you expect from them.