Puppy Love: Be the leader in your pack

Izzy 043I waited over a year to get a new dog after losing my big girl Maggie in 2011. Two Saturdays ago I went to a PetsMart in Littleton  to look at a puppy up for adoption through Life is Better Rescue.

Who am I trying to kid? I was on a mission to get that puppy. Like I told my friends later, Izzy had me at woof. Naturally I had forgotten the work that comes with a puppy. Like housebreaking and going out in a snowstorm to potty. And separation issues. And chewing everything.

There’s the cute stuff, too. Like her newly acquired ability to leap into my lap from a sit. And her delight in running after tennis balls, jumping on them and bringing them back. Well, she brings them back most of the time.

But my big takeaway this week is what every good dog trainer will tell you: I have to be first in this relationship and lead. Otherwise I’ll be cleaning up puddles and never be able to leave the house. She’ll be way happier knowing where she is in the pack, too.

Leadership is an interesting blend of self interest and service to others. I’ve written a lot about the role of leadership when you’re marketing your book, business, or service. People, like puppies like to follow someone they trust. But in order to gain that trust you, the leader, have to take care you don’t just cater to the whims of your followers.

This is a reciprocal relationship. For me and Izzy, I train her to be a good companion and to be a dog who’s easy and fun to live with. She gets a good home and lots of toys.

What do you get when you’re a leader to your clients and followers?