Traits of a Leader

The Agent of Change

Dale McCluskey asked:

Food, devices and gadgets are given more credit than they deserve when balance begins to occur between dog and owner. The real agent of change is the dog owner them self. This change centers more on what we are projecting through our personality rather than with devices, gadgets or treats. A device can provide a boost of self confidence to the frustrated dog owner and help with increasing interactions which meet the pack leader criteria. The owner or trainer in turn emphasizes the device or motivator as being the agent of change when in fact it is the opposite. Self-confidence is linked to the type of pack authority and demand which challenges and maintains the lead role. Dogs feel this being projected from our being. Authority, although necessary to create and maintain the pack roles, is not intended to be hurtful, aggressive or bad. Based on their individual needs, as temperament and breed,the dominant dog must feel that you represent the type of authority figure that allows them to release this dominant pack role.

Food and treats alone do not represent demand or challenge for the dominant pack dog. They are viewed as only something that the dog wants. The dominant pack dog may see the human owner as their follower and a pathway to get what they want. The dominant dog will respond for the food but still resist, challenge and express dominant and aggressive behavior. The owner can use treats as long as they are also expressing enough authority and demand to maintain a follower role for their dog. Often this isn’t the case for the dog owner who expresses emotion first and seeks out methods or techniques which represent how they feel about their dog from a human perspective rather than as a dog. Dogs express demand, authority and challenge through their state of being and within the pack relationship.

Adopting this lead role requires the dog owner to mimic those traits which represent authority figure and maintains a follower role. Demand, challenge and authority must be expressed through interactions. This is more psychological presence than physical. The emotionally driven and self-focused dog owner often has great difficulty expressing the type of psychological demand and authority needed to meet their dog’s basic pack needs.The emotionally driven dog owner is seeking love and attachment through a human agenda.This can lead to interpreting dominant behavior as a human expressions of love and affection. The dominant dog will follow the emotional human owner everywhere while avoiding those who represent authority figure. What the emotional dog owner perceives as expressions of love often represent possession and ownership to the dominant pack dog. Those whom represent authority figure to the dominant dog represent challenge and something to avoid. This leads to relationship issues with one spouse distancing them self while the other remains a source of empowerment for the dominant dog. Often the emotional dog owner will continue on the same path to the very end. The dog becomes the focus of the problem as a result. The owner must change for change to happen.

I absolutely love dogs, make no mistake about it, but I also know what I must do to prevent my dog from taking this unhealthy dominant role. You must have the ability to think beyond your own immediate needs, of what we might lose, fear and insecurity and adopt a new perspective, a new approach, a new realitity. That by meeting our dogs needs we also meet our own, in a much more powerful and meaningful way than ever before.

Dale McCluskey

From “The Power of Pack” book available at


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