Respected Leader vs Good Time Friend, by Ginger Martel - CCDT
A trusted leader, good time friend, and the sweet spot in between, where you want your relationship with your dog to be.
Maybe it's a manager at work, or a leader within your community, the person that knows how to make the tough decisions, get the best possible outcome in a given situation and just knows how to get the job done in general, however, that person may not be the one you want to spend your free time with, on the other hand, you have the good time friend, the life of the party, the friend always down for a good time, but that is not the friend you are going to call when you need some serious advice.
The people who make the most impact in our lives are the ones who have the perfect blend of these two extremes. The person who will give you the hard answers, not just the ones you want to hear, the one who holds you accountable for your actions, who you trust to always have your back, while that very same person is also the one who you love to spend your time with, whether it's working together towards a goal, hanging out being silly or just spending the day relaxing.
Very similar to our human relationships, our relationships with our dogs need to have a similar type of balance. We need to be that perfect combination of trusted leader and good time friend. We all want our dogs to love us and want to be with us, that is a given, but in order for that relationship to be a solid healthy one, they must also need to respect us and the boundaries that we have set in place.
They need to trust us in order for us to keep them safe and provide them the richest fullest lives possible. If your dog only views you as the good time friend he doesn't truly trust your judgment or your ability to coach him through a tough situation and he certainly does not respect your guidance and leadership, and when times get tough those are the decisions he feels better equipped to make on his own, and that is when dogs get into trouble.
Just think how stressful your life would be if there was NO ONE whose judgment you fully trusted and you felt that you had to be the leader, the decision-maker in everything single situation in your life, not only would it be stressful, it would be quite terrifying too.
Knowing the rules and how to navigate within them provides a certain level of comfort and peace, we don't necessarily have to agree with or like the rules, we may always try to push the boundaries of the rules, but knowing that broken rules have consequences, and ultimately they are there for a reason is what keeps society coloring within the lines. We can still have happy, very fulfilled, prosperous lives in a world full of rules and boundaries.
The same is very true for your dog, be the person that your dog can count on, even if that means holding them accountable for their own nonsense, done consistently and within parameters of the rules, is one of the greatest gifts you can give to your dog and is the foundation for a solid well-balanced relationship that will last a lifetime, being a trusted leader and a good time friend, don't have to be mutually exclusive, they just can't be completely one-sided either.
Written by Ginger Martel - CCDT