Leadership is often a misunderstood concept. Leadership does not mean "dominance" or "alpha". Leadership is having the mental and emotional strength to show your dog how to behave. To show him what is expected of him. And to see him for who he is, a dog, who wants to be recognized as a dog.
Many dog owners insist that their dog's be humanized. To be treated as "fur babies" who should be showered with treats and affection. This can cause a huge amount of stress and confusion for your dog. Dogs are pack animals. They thrive on rules and boundaries. When that isn't provided, dogs can become fearful, reactive and exhibit bad manners which can eventually turn to aggression. Dogs just aren't equipped to live in our crazy human world. It's up to us to lead the way and teach them how to be calm and confident.
When an owner contacts me about a problem they are having with their dog, I evaluate the dog, but also the owner's willingness to change their mindset. If the owner is not willing to change the way they are interacting with their dog, then it's very difficult for the dog to change his behavior. For some dogs/owners, this is an easy fix. The owner develops skills to effectively communicate with their dog , while the dog receives lessons on how to master a certain skill.
Other dogs will need more extensive work and so they come stay with me at the ranch. The dog needs to be immersed in a disciplined training program where they can build confidence and learn how to cope with stressful situations. The dogs are put into structured situations on a daily basis to teach them how to handle those situations in a calm, confident way.
Working with the dog is usually the easy part. The second half of this is teaching the owner how to have a healthy relationship with their dog. Often times the training process is a "born again" moment for the owner and their dog. Now it's the owner's turn to learn how to develop and build a new relationship. This is often a difficult process for the owner and it takes time to readjust to this new way of relating to your dog.
If the owner sticks with the program, you WILL have a fantastic dog who thrives on the new relationship that you have fostered. A relationship of mutual trust, partnership and understanding of what is expected of each other. This is an incredible and powerful bond. One that I strive for with all of my personal animals, clients and their dogs. This is why I stay committed to clients and their dogs through the entire process and after you have left my care. I have two goals: foster a healthy mindset with the dog and teach his person the skills needed to maintain that healthy mindset. If everyone is 100% committed to these two goals, you will be nothing but successful!