No, this isn’t going to be a how-to for teaching your dog to sit, stay, and heel.
But it will be an explanation of a lesson that my roommates dog-trainer taught us last night.
One of my roommates for the summer has a sweet German Shepherd pup she just brought home, and had a dog trainer come over to start some basic training. Aside from the “Feeding and Outdoor Rituals” she taught us, there was another major lesson for my roommate, not her dog.
“Embodying the Pack Leader Mentality” was the verbiage she used. All dogs have the pack mentality. Someone is the leader, and the rest obey. When it comes to training your dog, you must be the pack leader, not them. If they don’t feel like someone is in a leadership role, they assume it themselves. And a pupper in a leadership role ends up in nipped ankles, food eaten off counters, and messes made in the house.
Kinda like this world we live in.
If you don’t step up to be head honcho, someone else will, and they’ll crap on your carpet.
For a lot of us, our natural instinct is to wait for someone else to take the lead, tell us what to do. It’s often uncomfortable to be the boss, especially when you’re in charge of people that are older than you, or a precious puppy. But, it’s just one of those things you need to learn, and practice, and do. All the time.
So, the dog trainer asked my roommate a little about her life: what she does for a living, in her free time, what she did when she was younger.
My roommate laid down the basics, and then the trainer asked, “has there ever been a time that you accomplished something that you worked really hard for? Is there anything that gets you truly passionate and proud?”
My roommate was stumped for a moment, but then told of a time she got a major promotion at her new job.
Nodding, the trainer then asked me, and I responded with a short story about the time I got my first blog collaboration email. I was sitting in my favorite coffee shop with one of my best friends, and that was my first “Momma I made it” moment with this blog.
The trainer said, “YES. That’s it. That’s the energy you want.”
She explained, “You have to communicate with your heart. Your dog senses that, they sense your energy. Any time you need to communicate with your dog, remember that time. Remember that promotion. Feel the same power and pride you had when you got that phone call. Then tell your dog what to do.”
“It’s called manifesting, imagining you already have whatever it is that you want. You want your dog to respect you, so demand that respect. Act like you already have it.”
It’s the same idea as Power-Posing (if you don’t know what this is, read this article and try it before your next interview). When you take up more space and make your body larger, you get a rush of testosterone. That testosterone gives you all those confident, powerful vibes. The epitome of fake-it-till-you-make-it, really.
I know not all of us have a dog to train. But we do all have lives, jobs, relationships. You’re bound to find yourself in a situation where you need to be respected. And just like dogs, we pick up on other people’s energy. Think about it, you know those people that just radiate confidence. And you also know those people that couldn’t be more uncomfortable or insecure.
The next time you need to be respected, speak from your heart. Channel that powerful, passionate energy.
Embody the Pack-Leader Mentality.