Aggressive Dog, Aggressive Owner

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July 13, 2012

Probably not a news flash:  Owners of stereotypically aggressive dog breeds such as Germen shepherds and Rottweilers are more likely to be angry, hostile and aggressive. So finds a research study from Ireland, reported in HuffPost and shared by a friend. (Thanks!)

The gangster/pit bull pairing certainly is a stereotype that supports this as well. One of the study’s researchers is quoted: “This might imply (although has yet to be proven) that people choose pets that are an extension of themselves.”

That is one take. But I would propose a deeper and more helpful insight, which I discuss in my book “Pack Leader Psychology.”

Aggressive and hostile people are what I label “Dominators.” These people have very low self-worth and are insecure. Some Dominators are typical bullies. When Dominators feel threatened they “lash out” at other people with the primal “fight” response. These bullies use intimidation and fear to keep people at a safe emotional distance as a means to protect themselves from potential criticism, rejection and feelings of exclusion.

Sure these people choose pets to be an extension of themselves. But the reason they do so is the fascinating part. They do so because they are insecure and feel a need to have a big, aggressive dog to extend their “bully” behavior outward to intimidate and keep people at bay and protect themselves.

In addition, I believe that these anxious, insecure people are not balanced, healthy pack leaders, and their dogs know it! Around an anxious owner, a dog becomes anxious — and some may become more aggressive. As I describe in the book: Dogs and humans both use a “fight-or-flight” response when scared. Just one of the many parallels that explain nearly all aspects of human behavior.

The Dog That Taught Me About Leadership

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Reilly, the Muse for “Pack Leader Psychology”

As I say in “Pack Leader Psychology,” a growl instantly moved me from pack member to pack leader with my dog, Reilly. But if I hadn’t had a dog that understood how to be a pack member, I might never have learned this lesson. And I might never have made the connection that being a pack leader to people might also be a good thing for my interpersonal relationships as well.

The story begins when I got Reilly as an eight-month-old dog. She had grown up in an outdoor kennel with her birth pack and several adult dogs. Living for so long with this normal dog pack taught Reilly how to recognize and honor the pack leader or leaders — probably her mother and father.

Continue reading

Welcome to the inaugural Pack Leader Psychology blog post!

I’m very excited to begin this new adventure that has been about six years in the making. I have written a non-fiction self-help book called “Pack Leader Psychology,” and this blog is the first step in introducing the ideas in that book to the public. A full website will follow soon and the book is now available as an e-book on Amazon (Kindle fans!). Print and e-versions on B&N and other sites will be due shortly.

So what is the book about?  Tough to shorten 230 pages down into a few paragraphs, but here goes:

“Pack Leader Psychology” recounts the lessons I learned while becoming a pack leader to my dog, Reilly, that helped transform me from a submissive, abused wife into a calm, confident, independent and assertive human pack leader. Read More