Sabrina A.

Pack Leadership

Yes! Traveling with dogs! II

Hello everyone,

Welcome to the second post of Yes! Traveling with dogs! from Sun with Style. I hope that last week’s post aroused the curiosity of how to make your trip with your dog a pleasant and unforgettable adventure, because today we are going to address this post to a very important and fundamental issue for every dog traveler: Pack Leadership.

Remember the phrase “Respect the environment and your dog’s needs”, in our first column post? Yes, today I will explain what I meant by that and pack leadership is part of the process.

I know that many are waiting for tips on organization and how to plan the trip. This is coming, but first we need to know if the basic requirements for the trip are available and, more than choosing the location of your trip, we are talking about the communication between species ( human x dog ).

Human x dog Relationship is Bound by a Pack Leadership

As we know, the human being is a different species than a dog. Therefore, it has different physical, psychological and social characteristics.

A dog develops differently than a human, not only in the gestational period (human = 268 days; dog = 58 to 68 days) but also after birth.

Unlike a human newborn, a dog is not born with all the senses ready for use. That’s right, a newborn is born with all the senses and these are being refined over time. A puppy is born only with smell, its eyes and ears are closed. They will open after the second week of life and still won’t work properly. Like humans, they need time to “improve”.

Dog x Human Relationship is bound by a pack leadership.
Dog x Human Relationship is bound by a pack leadership.

It is clear that the canine orientation is olfactory and that of a human being is already much more complex. And that brings us to the first differences in behavior. A dog smells everything to understand his environment, the human being does not smell things… he uses vision to understand the environment in which he is.

We can conclude that dogs socialize differently. This means that they have a different interaction with other individuals than humans, and the understanding of this fact is important for the communication between human and dog.

To make things clearer, I am going to tell a story lived by a couple of friends of mine.

A New Year's party that ended in Halloween

Halloween Horror

The story names in the story are fictitious

Mary and John, married for 15 years, rejoiced at the idea of going to the city park with Peter, their 5-year-old son, and Rex, an 8-year-old dog, to see the fireworks at the new year’s party.

Mary and John, very busy people, work a lot and spend most of their time in the office while Peter goes to school and Rex stays at home.

In that day, they took the picnic basket, Rex’s flex-line, some changes of clothes for their little son and went to the park to enjoy the day as a family.

The park, as expected, was full and finding a place wasn’t so easy, but as the desire to see the fireworks was great, they manage. Rex was uneasy, trembled a lot, but “calmed down” by finding some shelter under John’s bench.

The afternoon went by without any major problems. Peter had already made friends and was running between baskets and tables in the park playing. Mary and John enjoyed each other without taking their eyes off their son, and Rex … stood there under the bench waiting for the food to fall.

Then, the long-awaited hour came, the countdown began, the enthusiasm was in the air, and soon after that came the firework’s noise, colors, so many colors, in the sky dotted with white stars. John, holding Peter on his lap, Mary hugging John and everyone enjoying this minutes as family, together … and Rex … well, let say that, didn’t start the year so well …

Turning joy into madness!

At the countdown, Rex noticed the movement, the shouting, he trembled, asked John for help who was only looking at the sky. He decided to stay in his position under the bench, but the noise only increased. In a desperate act, he bit the leg of someone passing by, ran off with his flex-line-leash, wrapping everything in his way, bit some more along the way. John belatedly realized what Rex was doing and screamed out hoping that he would stop … of course, in vain. When everything became quiet and John managed to catch Rex, he put the whole family on the run in the car and returned home, without providing assistance to anyone who was bitten.

Some missing details...

Before starting a long discussion, I would like to point out some important facts. The first person bitten by Rex was a 4-year-old child and his parents were desperate with the situation. They provided help to their child and because their desperation they couldn’t verify if Rex had his vaccination up to date with his owners. As John and Mary didn’t come forward for assistance or support after the event, the treatment given to this child will probably be more painful than necessary (anti-rabies vaccine, etc.).

The father of this child, outraged by the situation, posted his feelings in the social media and the responses to his post were varied, but most of the comments were that a dog’s place is not in the park but at home, because it is an ANIMAL and therefore it’s reaction is unpredictable.

Situation analysis...

John and Mary aren’t pack leaders. And that is clear. The situation is extreme, but it could happen anywhere that frightened Rex: in a restaurant, in a mall, in a store etc. .. Not because Rex is an ANIMAL – Human beings are also animals – but because inter-species communication didn’t work. Rex didn’t have the necessary leadership to remain calm.

So let’s now go back to what really matters in this post…

Returning to the topic ...

Before we start our adventure traveling with our dogs, we need to make sure that our communication is effective. Because we are different, we communicate and socialize differently.

So, after all, what is a society? According to Google:

As we can see, a society can be made up of beings other than humans. We could talk about a canine society for dogs, right ?! To simplify everything, we will use packs to describe canine society.

A pack behaves differently than a human society. A dog, that is a pack leader, is responsible for all its individuals and corrects them when necessary, thus avoiding certain situations that may cause disharmony and / or put the group at risk ( more in the book: Cesar’s wayCesar Millan).

A dog without a pack leadership in a stressful environment gives warning bites to those who “invade” its space, demonstrating its insecurity. Such behavior in a pack is unacceptable and the role of the leader is to be assertive in the correction so that the individual is assured that there is no danger, avoiding conflicts or unnecessary attacks.

In a human society, where the human being knows the rules, the dangers and limitations, he needs to be the leader of a family with dogs. Leadership prevents the dog from getting hurt (example: being hit by a car by crossing the street), not hurting others (example: story above) or damaging the place where it is. Just as parents are responsible for their children’s actions, dog owners are responsible for its actions. This way I return to the sentence in the beginning of this post: “ Respect the environment and your dog’s needs ”. This way we avoid unnecessary prohibitions ( example: taking your best friend on trips ).

To Finish this post...

I would like to know from you, my dear readers, if you have already experienced similar situations and how do you avoid this type of dog behavior in public places?

Looking forward to hearing from you! Have a great week!