Sunday, March 21, 2010

Pack leaders and human misery

I have been enjoying watching episodes of the dog whisperer with my dogs. The show basically has one theme and that is in order for dogs to be well adjusted they need a pack leader. The leader is not a tyrant merely one that is consistent and worthy of respect. Without a pack leader, the dogs in the house set up their own rules, which are almost always disastrous. These dogs are aggressive, destructive, bolt at the doors and rush at strangers or other dogs. Some dogs even throw themselves on the floor and jerk their legs as if having a fit if they are not paid attention to. Many of Ceasar's clients are literal slaves to their furry house partners!

A dog with a pack leader is well adjusted, calm and able to interact with other dogs and other people. In other words, a good pet! Dogs have a complex system of social interaction and once they have a pack leader, they fit in very well. They then know what is expected of them and how to behave.

I have known many families who have no pack leader. The children watch videos and need to be coaxed to do something with the family. The parents barely speak to each other and the entire family is busily pursuing their own interests. Families such as these do not even gather to eat together, they snack and run. They do little, if anything 'together' and there is no negotiation. Like neurotic dogs, if they don't get their own way, the children whine (Bark) or misbehave until the parents capitulate. Like the badly adjusted mutts featured on Ceasar Milan's entertaining shows, the children have no clear leader and act out of fear, aggression and insecurity.

In any social group, we as humans need a pack leader. It is someone whom we respect and whose authority we defer to. It is someone who 'sets the tone'. In a family this is crucial as young children are learning how to behave around other children and adults. They learn their socialization skills mainly through their parents.

Ceasar Milan should expand his practice to include parents!

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