Are You A Leader

The Resource for Everything About Dogs

Are You A Leader

by Kirsten Frisch

Often the term "alpha dog" conjures up images of a "take no prisoner" type of behavior, but the term "leadership" can have a different effect. If you are having behavior problems with your dog, maybe defining your leadership method will help you correct behavior and training issues. And if you are feeling confused about how to be a good leader, don't worry, bosses, teachers, coaches, and parents contemplate whether their leadership skills are effective everyday.

So, let's define ways to be a leader...

1. Instructional Leadership: Instruction means direction or order, as in directions to your house. In dog training, this means if I give you clear and precise step by step leash training directions, your dog should end up leash trained. But how many of you have ended up getting lost even when someone gave you explicit directions to their house. Why is that? Part of the problem is that everyone interprets directions differently. The other part of the problem is that dog training is not computer coding. Dog training involves, um...dogs. Live beings with their own interpretation of leash training.

2. Transactional Leadership: If this sounds like getting money from the ATM, you are correct. Some of you have bosses like this. Some of you are bosses like this. "If you get this project done by tomorrows meeting, I'll put in a good word for you when it comes time for salary reviews." Some people are motivated by this type of leadership. In dog training, when you push down on your dogs butt to get him to sit and then give him a treat you are creating a transaction. The problem is that this type of leadership does not build teamwork because it only focuses on the immediate reward or consequence. How many of you have had several colorful expletives for your boss when s/he sprung that last minute project on you?

3. Transformational Leadership: In humans, this type of leadership sparks purpose, passion, and motivation. Transformational leaders make an emotional connection and are empowering to followers. This type of leadership looks for win-win situations. Playing frisbee with your dog is an example of transformational leadership. It provides an interactive way to communicate, exercise, and reward your dog while teaching the command COME. Then again, I bet you know at least one dog who could play fetch flawlessly for hours, and never learn any commands. Just because you are working towards transformation, does not mean you get transformation.

Here's the kicker. All of these methods work. Good leadership combines these methods. On the other hand, just because a leader has followers, does not earn him the title "good leader". If you are having training issues with your dog, ask yourself what type of leadership role you are using. Then ask yourself if that leadership method is working.

Kirsten Frisch has worked with sled dogs for over 10 years. She has handled dogs in Alaska for mid and long distance races such as the Copper Basin 300 and Yukon Quest 1000 mile race. Her background also includes Veterinary Technician, sled dog rescue and foster, dog trainer, and webmaster. You can learn more about Kirsten and sled dogs at

Kirsten Frisch - EzineArticles Expert Author

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