Are you the leader of your pack? I’ve always considered myself an independent when it comes to being a leader or a follower. I hate to lead or follow, so I usually just do what I want. Recently I have noticed that my pack is doing exactly what they want and using guilt to control me. I rescued a chocolate lab some months ago, and he is a wonderful, loving teddy bear. He weighs 120 lbs! He weighed 98 when I brought him home, and he is already six years old. I walk him every day for his health and mine, but now he has a routine that he is used to, and if I am not up and in tennis shoes by eight a.m., he is very vocal–like I’ll wake up the whole neighborhood loud. I rush about, hair and teeth not brushed, praying not to see anyone I know. I then race back to walk the other four dogs, who now give me guilty looks if I don’t take them as well. I used to enjoy letting everyone fetch balls from the pool in between writing segments, but I have the one Lab in the world who would rather walk for all his exercise.
After walking, he likes to be fed directly, followed by a short dip in the pool, where he then expects to be towel dried off. He is not keen on dripping dry. He tells me this through insistent barking. It has been many months now and I have learned what he likes and doesn’t like. He tells me by barking until I respond. Sometimes I can not accommodate his desire. If the pool guy cleans the pool or the lawn guy mows, he has to be put inside. He doesn’t like to be separated from me, so the minute I shut the door to go answer a question, he goes on a tirade of barking. I have dissolved into a barking mess in response, begging him to please be quiet. I absolutely love this dog, but realize that this time I might need help. The time has come to follow someone who knows best. It’s time to call a trainer!