When adding more animals to your household, it’s a good idea to establish some rules, set healthy boundaries, and be always aware of the entire pack. These are the key traits of true leadership.
I don’t expect my animals to be friends with each other, but I ask everyone to be friendly. That’s my number 1 rule and I’m very clear about it.
Charlie is my main dog and for years it was just the two of us. Over the COVID period, I got three more dogs and then, unexpectedly Paul came into our lives as a tiny kitten.
My pack had grown to 5, and Charlie wasn’t exactly thrilled about it. However, he agreed to tolerate the others as long as he is treated with respect.
Now and again, there’ll be an outburst among the dogs. That’s when I step in immediately and remind all my animals to mind their manners because I like having peace and calm in my home.
Peaceful leadership is the willingness to say “NO” to certain behavior and to direct and show animals what is required of them so my household is the way I would like it to be.
Friendly and calm
In true leadership, there is always a choice for you and your animals. So, let your animals know how you would like them to behave.
With Charlie, I always say, “Be calm, be peaceful, be friendly”. Almost 80% of the time, he enjoys playing with other dogs. Whenever he displays attitude, I re-iterate to him that this kind of behavior is unacceptable.
Some time ago we were living on a ranch along with several other dogs. Charlie decided he owned the place, and one particular dog didn’t like that. I could tell from the get-go that their relationship wasn’t going to be 100% playful. This meant staying a step ahead of Charlie. If necessary, I was prepared to leave him at home or put him in a crate to prevent an altercation. Because leadership includes response-ability, which is the ability to respond in a way that benefits the whole pack.
Boundaries aren’t barriers
When an animal displays unwanted behavior, I’ve seen people refuse to deal with it or brush it off as a one-time thing.
They also assume that having a boundary will affect their relationship by creating a barrier between the animal and them.
A boundary isn’t a barriers. A boundary is a line you draw so the animal knows what will happen if they cross it. I highly suggest keeping your barriers down with your animal and being aware of the choices they are making.
Cats spraying indoors is another big no-no for me. Whenever I asked my cat Paul about it, he kept saying everything would be fine. As much as he agreed not to spray indoors, it was clear to me that he couldn’t keep that promise. I choose to get him neutered and it was much easier than I anticipated.
So, how do you stop undesirable behavior? Some people threaten to give their animals away or beat them etc. Don’t make a threat unless you’re willing to follow through. Animals always know whether you’re genuine or not. You’re better off finding a creative solution, such as more exercise for a bored animal, rehoming, and setting healthy boundaries, rather than making empty threats.
True leadership calls for us to be totally peaceful in any situation and act promptly when required. We can see this in a herd of wild horses, where the leader always knows if something is off or when danger looms because their zone of awareness is so huge.
Recently I was taking my dogs for an early morning walk when I saw a coyote at the end of the driveway. It started to leave but then I noticed it looping around and coming back. Afterward, I realized that it was feeding on some prey, which it didn’t want to give up.
Since I didn’t want my dogs running into that coyote, I stopped in my tracks. Although I didn’t say anything, there was such an intense STOP! in my world that all the dogs stopped and looked at me as if to ask, what’s up?
None of my dogs had seen the coyote, so I simply walked a different way into the bushes, and they came with me. All of this only took a few minutes, I didn’t get frantic or yell out to my dogs. Peaceful leadership is an energy we can be and as Dr. Dain Heer says, when we’re truly being us, we create magic.
The funny part was that when we came back from our walk, I looked at the spot where the coyote had been eating. There were no bones, guts, or other remains. The coyote had devoured its prey completely.
In closing, I invite you to use these tools with your pack. Peaceful leadership is an interesting energetic playground. Unfortunately, we look at our political leaders and assume leadership must include force. What if it could be different?
What if we were willing to lead our pack with kindness, space, allowance, and have the skill to outwit others when required?
Leadership is one of the many topics we explore in Talk to the Animals classes, go here for my next class