In today’s post, I want to address the topic of weakness. Now, we like to believe that we’ve evolved to a level where we don’t pick on the weak, at least as adults. As an adult, I know that . As a kid, I definitely picked on those who were weaker at times and got picked on for being weaker at others. But as we mature, we like to think that we’re beyond that. Hopefully we are!
But I’ve got some bad news about your dog: they don’t have the same sense of self-realization. To put it bluntly, your dog doesn’t care about morals. As a human, I don’t want to beat up on people smaller than me because it feels morally wrong. I suppose if I were living out in the jungle and it was fight or flight every day, I probably would need to pick on weaker people! But in our domesticated world, we strive to abstain from that even though we sometimes fail.
Dogs don’t have that moral compass. They’re sweet and cuddly and fluffy, but that adorable dog doesn’t think twice about ripping off a chicken’s head. That means that dogs pick on the weak. If you’re at the park and your dog is perceived as weak by others, there’s a far better chance he will be picked on.This is one reason why dogs pick on kids more than adults: they’re weaker, and dogs know that.
This is also why leadership with your dog is so critical. Leadership is not about domineering. Often, it’s about having more of the picture. I almost always have more information about a situation than my dog (with the exception of the time that my dog senses danger outside of the house). I know that if my dog runs into the street in front of a car, my dog could be hit and die. My dog doesn’t know that. I know that if my dog jumps up on the counter and eats chocolate, he could get very ill. My dog has no idea that’s the case; she could eat something harmful every day and never realize that she should stop. She doesn’t know that if she attacks a kid on the street, she could be put down. But I know that. So I have a much larger, more expansive view than my dog. That’s why it’s my responsibility to lead my dog.
This is the reason why I get so frustrated when I hear dog trainers say that it’s better to be your dog’s “buddy” than their leader. It just doesn’t work that way! You need to be a leader to your dog. And not everything is as serious as life and death, but sometimes it’s as serious as sickness or injury, or having a dog who’s a headache. No matter how serious the situation, if you’re not being a leader to your dog, he or she will have some major problems.
Here’s how this connects to weakness. When dogs sense weakness, they pounce. This might mean ripping of the chicken head, beating up the dog that’s smaller, or acting out with you! Saying “I don’t care what you’re telling me, I’m going to do it my way” might be the way that your dog is picking on the “weak one” in its life!
Leadership means nothing more and nothing less than setting down rules and sticking to them. It doesn’t require a deep voice, shouting, or being large. A tall man and a tiny woman can provide the same level of leadership. All you need to do is stick to your rules. If you have a hard time sticking to your rules, training tools are important. Electric collars, for example, can add the leverage to enforce the rules you set down.
The best way to avoid these problems is to avoid being seen as weak by your dog. Do yourself and your dog a favor, and figure out how to have compassionate leadership.