Lazy Leaders

Tears were streaming like waterfalls down the woman’s
face.  Her hysterical sobs wracked her
body so hard that she shook.  Redness
flushed her face until she looked like a spring ripened tomato.

A stunned Jackson Galaxy stared on from a corner of the woman’s
bedroom.  What had caused her to go into
such hysterics?  One of her cats had
become spooked and let out a small “Meow.”
“I hate to see them upset,” she sobbed.

“Whoa!  This has got to
go,” said Jackson as he pointed to the woman’s face.  He informed her that she could not fall to
pieces every time her cats appeared moody. 
She needed to be the pack leader.

In the same episode of “My Cat from Hell,” Jackson met with a
family who refused to help care for their two cats.  As a result, their single mom became the soul
caregiver.  He also told the worn out mom
that she needed to take charge and be the leader.

This woman made every excuse that she could possibly think of
for her children.  One daughter had dance
lessons after school.  The other daughter
was heavily involved in sports.  And the
son had worked hard all day at school and needed to rest.  I was ready to throw something at my
television.

Due to the carelessness of the children and the mom’s fear of
angering them, one of the cats began to bully the other.  The bullying was so bad that the victim cat
had to have his litter box placed on the kitchen counter.  Yes, you read that right.  The cat’s litter box was on the same kitchen
counter where the family’s food was placed.

Just as in a family dynamic, our furry family members need to
understand exactly who the pack leader is. 
If this leadership is not established, they will take it upon themselves
to fill the role.  Without proper
training and guidance, these loving creatures can create havoc of the worst
kind.
One of my friends received a Corgi puppy as an anniversary
gift from her husband.  She fell
completely in love with the ball of fur. 
Her Facebook page became flooded with selfies of the inseparable pair.

Just two short weeks later, I received a text asking if I
would be interested in keeping the pup. 
I could not understand it.  She
had seemed so smitten.  What had gone
wrong?

Since both my friend and her husband work, the puppy was left
home alone for hours on end every day.  When
he was finally released from his crate, he would run amuck.  He chewed on the carpet and delighted in
peeling wallpaper off of the walls. 
Marking became an issue as the playful pooch seemed to think that
everything in the house belonged to him. 
He also refused to sleep through the night and had begun howling.

I asked my friend what types of training techniques she had
been using.  There was a lengthy pause
before she admitted that she had not done any. 
No wonder the puppy was behaving poorly! 
He had no idea what kind of behavior was expected of him.

Unfortunately, my grandmother was the same way.  She owned a Shiz-tsu that she had had since
he was a pup.  As grandma aged, she
stopped requiring her dog to behave.  She
was no longer quick enough to get to the door to let her pooch outside to
potty.  Instead, he would simply go
wherever he felt like.  I tried showing
grandma different options including a doggy door but she just wanted to adore and
cherish her furry companion without rules.

I believe that many pet parents feel that they are being
cruel if they establish dominance over the animals in their lives.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Showing that you are in charge does not mean
that you are using force or being malicious. 
You are giving your pets the gift of stability.  They will know exactly where they stand
within the family hierarchy and take pride in their role.

The easiest way to set boundaries is through obedience
training.  There are four basic commands
that all dogs should master.  The
commands are:
1.      Sit
2.      Stay
3.      Down/Off
4.      Come/Heel
My in-laws have had huge success in clicker training their
Min Pin, Kallee.  They combined positive
reinforcement while using the clicker device. 
She can do tons of amazing tricks in addition to following the basic
commands listed above.

If you live in a multiple pet household, chances are you know
exactly who the pack leader is among your furry bunch.  For our family, the leader is Theo, our long-haired
Chihuahua.  He automatically took to the
role as we began to adopt more precious pets.



Theo, our fearless pack leader!



Watching Theo meet his new siblings was like watching a lion
with his pride on National Geographic.  He
would immediately walk up to the new dog/cat and begin sniffing.  Theo would then sit a few feet away and stare
directly into the dog’s/cat’s eyes. 
Amazingly, each dog would lower him/herself to the ground and roll over
on his/her back.  The cats would turn
their backs and just walk away.

Theo established dominance without any use of force.  He never barred his teeth or tried to
bite.  Instead, he exuded confidence that
the other animals could literally see.  His
status among the pack has never been questioned.  He rules with a soft paw and only lets out a
growl if he thinks the other dogs are playing too rough with each other. 

The same is true of our cats. 
Miracle is our majestic queen.  We
rescued her from the middle of Main Street in our town when she was just two
weeks old.  She very quickly became one
of the dogs.  Two years later, we adopted
Olaf.  Miracle was less then
pleased. 

The initial meeting was somewhat tense.  Olaf gave her a sniff…and she hissed in his
face.  For the first few days, Miracle
did her best to avoid Olaf.  She made
sure that she always sat on the highest perch possible.  In doing so, she was showing Olaf that she is
the boss.  He soon learned that Miracle
wanted her space and he respected her authority.

Sven entered our lives in April of this year.  He was drawn to Olaf immediately.  Being one year old, Sven still has a lot of
kitten-like behaviors.  He sauntered up
to Olaf and tried to rub up against him. 
This was met with a hiss and a smack in the face with a quick paw.  Miracle had a similar reaction.

To the woman on “My Cat from Hell,” this would have been a
sign that the three would never get along and more hysterical tears would have
ensued.  We knew that all our cats really
needed was more time to get adjusted.  In
a matter of weeks, Miracle, Sven and Olaf were all drinking out of the same
water dish.  Olaf even started licking
Sven’s face!

The key to being a good leader is to have patience.  Nothing lasting is ever achieved
overnight.  Goals need to be set along
with a plan for how to reach them.  The
next step is to follow through on the plan every day.  Nothing is worse than initiating training and
then immediately stopping for several days. 
The dog or cat that is being trained will become totally confused and
any learning that has taken place could go right out the window.

Another quality that is essential to leadership is authority.  This means truly taking charge of the
situation.  Every action taken must be
done with certainty.  Dogs and cats will
sense the confidence and soon learn where they stand in the family.

We have found the word “no” to be a very powerful tool.  When one of our cats decides that he/she wants
to pick a fight, we sharply say the cat’s name followed by a loud “NO!”  This typically curtails any mischievousness
right on the spot.

With our pooches, we found that using a water bottle filled
with cool water works like magic.  We NEVER spray the dogs in the
face.  Just one quick spritz on the
behind is all it takes.  Our dogs have
become so used to the bottle that they hardly even need to be sprayed anymore.  Once they see me or my husband shake the
bottle, they snap to attention.  Chaos is
stopped and order is restored without the use of force or cruelty.

Without established rules and a pack leader, more than just
the furniture can get ruined.  A pet’s
very life may be in danger.  In a more
recent episode of “My Cat from Hell,” one formerly feral kitty almost took the
tail off of his new litter box mate! 
This cat had severe territorial aggression.  Had his cat guardians not taken steps to
rectify the situation, they might have ended up with a very injured (and
tailless) cat.

Being a pet parent is not all about snuggles and kisses.  By adopting these amazing creatures, we have
vowed to give them the best life imaginable. 
This includes setting boundaries and enforcing rules.  Providing leadership is essential to ensuring
that our beloved furry family members have an outstanding quality of life where
they will be protected and respected. 
Step up and be the leader for your pack today!

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