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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Tayler

The importance of leadership

Sometimes I can't rehabilitate a dog or stave off potential problems, because the Owner doesn't understand the critical role the Owner's energy and leadership (or lack thereof) plays in the behavior of their dog or dogs. Unfortunately for several of my dogs, I learned this lesson the hard way.

Many years ago, I rescued a Beauceron who was dog aggressive and cost me well over several thousand dollars in vet bills for the dogs that she tore up when she attacked them. One of my dogs had to be euthanized because a conflict between another dog and a recently acquired puppy triggered a pack attack when I was not home. I was clueless how to rectify this problem until the vet informed me that if I would become the pack leader, the dog fights would stop. He was absolutely correct. Once I established myself as leader, the attacks did stop.

Sometimes I can't seem to convey the importance of this to my clients and on more than one occasion, the result is not just an ill-mannered dog, but an aggressive dog. The lack of leadership leaves it to the dogs to determine who will be pack leader and that creates insecurity in the dogs and dog fights. If the dog is an only dog, the dog will assume the vacant role of leader and problems develop. Other times the dogs are trapped in fear or insecurity because the Owner won't establish rules and help the dog overcome it's fear. The result is sometimes crushing anxiety and fear for the dog. This type of dog often spends most of it's time hiding.

Gunner is a Beauceron whom I rescued. She taught me how to be the pack leader to avoid dog fights.

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