What does being a good leader for my dogs mean to me?

One of my friends asked me how I would describe the type of leader I am when it comes to my dogs.

My answer:

I believe in being a good leader to my dogs. However, that does not mean using any form of intimidation or force. I think a good leader can set a good example by showing, explaining, and communicating what is expected of either a kid or a dog. I also think that one must trust a leader and know that no matter what that person will protect, take care of, and not put the dog or kid in harm’s way. I also think that to be a good leader one should be consistent and fair. I say kids/dogs a lot, because to me training/teaching a dog is not any different than teaching a kid (my full time job is teaching 6,7,8th grade physical education). If I would not mistreat, punish, yell at a kid, then I would not ever do it to a dog. I do think that good leaders provide good learning opportunities for the dog, sets the dog up for success and guides them in the right direction but still allowing them to figure it out and learn on their own as long as the environment is safe and will not cause the dog to regress in training, get injured, or have a bad experience. To me a good leader should also have good motivational skills, be able to set goals that are realistic and achievable (I would never expect Isabelle to do some of the tricks that Bandit can do, but I can modify and support her or pick different tricks for her that are more realistic and attainable). I also think that a good leader provides things the dog needs, but does not just give without the dog earning it. I do believe in the notion that nothing in life is free. We all have to work for what we get and therefore I make my dogs work for food, playtime, things in their environment and anything else they may want and they get rewarded heavily for a job well done.

I really hope that this helps some of you and makes you think about your relationship with your dog(s).

Sincerely,
Pamela Johnson

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