Leader of the Pack


With Susan’s permission, I am bringing this to the blog. From several of her comments and my responses you may be aware that there’s been some …ummm…can’t think of the right word. Issues seems too strong. As does incidents. To me, Dog Woman of Mountain Pet Grooming And Many Lhasa Apsos, these are normal dog ‘things’.  To those that have never lived with a pack, these dog ‘things’ can be quite disconcerting. By her own admission, Susan has had a laissez faire approach with her dogs.

The addition of another dog to the pack often creates a shift in the pack. Dog ‘things’ during this shift can include spats, more posturing between the dogs including those that get along relatively well, as well as other behaviors that may appear to have nothing to do with the introduction of another pack member. As Susan has discovered, it is essential to replace laissez faire with strong leadership. I applaud Susan’s learning spirit and the effort she is expending to become Leader of the Pack.

To bring you all up to date I have selected excerpts from our writings. The excerpts aren’t in immaculate order, but you’ll get the gist. Comments will follow in upcoming days. Please feel free to join us, ask questions or give input!

And so, for about two years now there were the three of us. And now four….

I am having some difficulties with Sammy (as Debbie can attest, as she has received several panicky emails from me) and am afraid that my to-date laissez faire attitude towards the house full of dogs is coming back to bite me. Yesterday I took Sammy to the vet to get some tests done to rule out any problems with his thyroid, etc. Today I will start working him — walking him — to see if I can help him with whatever his “issues” are.


 She has also given me the names of two local trainers that
she thinks are very good, since she suspects our major issue may well be
“too many dogs”…..


Thanks very much.  I don’t either think that “too many dogs” “caused”
his behavior.  But I think perhaps I haven’t handled the addition of the
new pack member as well as I might have.  Tonight I will make Champ
sleep at the bottom of the bed instead of tucked up under my arm, for
I have never had his back x-rayed.
I will be interested in the results of the tests which I should have by
If there is no chemical reason for his issues, I will definitely get in
touch with a trainer.
AND, I have two of Cesar Millan’s books on request at the library.

More as it develops…

LhasaLhady@aol.com wrote:
> Susan, I don’t think too many dogs would make a dog behave the way
> Sammy did. Has his back been x-rayed?

> Sammy has always had a tendency to respond to being poked at by *biting
> and growling (for example when I try to pull a burr off of him);*
> apparently, however, he gives the groomer no trouble..
> Over the past month *he has started erupting out of sleep when I have
> gotten back into bed and jostled him;  he startles awake, biting and
> growling and thrashing about;*  I have always been able to reach over and
> calm him.
> This morning all of a sudden he and Raji were fighting — hard  — I
> suspect Sammy had tried to take a chew away from her.  When I separated
> them, Sammy was crying.  I tried to soothe him, but he has refused to
> have anything to do with me.  *If I pick him up, he starts biting and
> growling.*  I have put him in the bedroom where he is separate and safe,
> but when I go in there to make nice with him, *he treats me like the
> enemy and starts biting and growling.  *He’s obviously terrified of
> something….and I am too now…..

> I have an appointment with the vet at 9:40 tomorrow morning.
> It took Sammy about 2 hours to stop shaking after the episode this
> morning.
> I am thinking there are two possibilities:  *One is that there is
> something physically/neurologically/chemically out of whack with him*. 
>Perhaps Sammy would respond to some minor pharmaceutical
> tweak?
> *The other is that Sammy is just a full fledged brat and that I have not
> trained him correctly*.  Ah, I’m thinking Cesar Milan would tell me to
> put his harness on, leash him up, and run him for 45 minutes a day????
> I’m definitely scared for him.  *I’m scared that he is hurting, and I’m
> scared that I may not be tough enough if the issue really is that I have
> to be more assertive than he is.*  And I’m scared that figuring out the
> real problem may be hard.  I’m not good at hard.
> Sorry if I’m whining.  It’s just that I’m…..scared for my poor boy.
> Something is haunting or hurting him and I don’t know how to slay the
> dragon for him.

> Susan, I’ve bolded the items that need to be examined. I would also
> ask his groomer for input, as she knows him and should be able to tell
> you if you’ve allowed him to be a brat or if she thinks the behavior
> could be caused by physical pain. If his tests are normal, then he and
> you need a trainer, a good trainer, preferably one that has some
> training in animal behavior. I disagree that his behavior could be
> caused by ‘too many dogs’ because you wrote:

> Sammy has always had a tendency to respond to being poked at by *biting
> and growling (for example when I try to pull a burr off of him);*
> **
> *he has started erupting out of sleep when I have
> gotten back into bed and jostled him;  he startles awake, biting and
> growling and thrashing about;*
> **
> I certainly wouldn’t respond to this behavior – or any of the other
> shabby behaviors you mention – by comforting him. I would kick him and
> his shabby behavior out of *MY* bed. The more I think about this…the
> more I’m inclined to think a visit from Cesar is in order. <g> But,
> first start with eliminating any physical contributors.

> Keep me posted.


Thank you so much for all of the references.
I really am sorry to take up so much of your attention.
I will download and or get each of the references you sent and READ a lot.
I have also started working on being firmer and clearer about everything
that I expect/want/need from the dogs.

When the doctor calls me  — probably tomorrow — I will ask her what
she thinks about x-raying his back.  I know Gigi’s Dom has had extensive
trouble with his back, so it wouldn’t be unreasonable.  I am leaning
towards thinking maybe something is awry with his thyroid;  he does
weigh 20.4# which seems like too  much;  except of course Raji weighs
just about the same;  but Rinchen weighs more like 14 on the very same

Anyway, the sun is shining, I had a good night’s sleep, and my anxiety
has subsided to reasonable levels.


LhasaLhady@aol.com wrote:
> The reason I asked about his back…was with his sensitivity maybe
> there’s a disc slightly out of whack.

> Life is a constant learning experience. Perhaps the course you’ll be
> taking this year is Leader of the Pack. I can even hear the theme song
> in my head! We’ll design a leather jacket with a Gompa dog head in the
> center of the medallion… <g> There’s a couple of good articles in
> the training area of the website that should be useful as you become
> Leader of the Pack. I’ll go to the site right now and forward them.
> Establishing your pack leadership in no uncertain terms doesn’t
> It’s more subtle than that. Doing some of the things – the things that
> you can do, that you’re comfortable doing – will go a long way. You
> will find conflicting things as you read the various authors and work
> individually with a trainer. Feel free to ask me for input. I can
> perhaps – or not – provide insight into the conflicting opinions,
> giving you information to help you make the right choices for your
> situation. As my yoga teacher says, “take what speaks to you, leave
> the rest behind.”

> Keep me posted! 

While sitting in the chair reading the paper this morning, Sammy came 
— as usual — after he had gone out to pee and poop and climbed into my
lap.  Rinchen chuffed at the front door and I got up to let him in. 
Sammy got growly with me, so I cuffed him and told him to “stop it”. 
Now, 30 minutes later or so I came in from outside and he’s lying on the
couch tremoring.  His little body (well not so little body) just keeps
trembling in these waves.  It’s very much like the reaction he had when
he was poisoned with the Frontline last year.  Doc says he just might
need a med to deal with his anxiety….?


My county library doesn’t have this book available.  I may try ordering
it later on.  Meanwhile, I did bring three books home from the library
today:  the _Dog Who Loved Too Much_ (Dr. Nicholas Dodman), _Be the Pack
Leader_ (Caesar Millan) and _Dogs Never Lie about Love_ (Jeffrey
Moussaieff Masson).  If you have any opinions on any of these, lemme
know.  I have, so far, read the first chapter of the Dodman book and am
already blown entirely away.  Who would have thought that my silly
sluggish Sammy could have “dominance” issues, but there they are laid
out in black and white….textbook case as they say.  I’m happy to say
that I started the more exercise and better discipline parts of the
program even before reading that, but….I’m looking forward to solving
this problem for all our sakes.


LhasaLhady@aol.com wrote:
> This would be an excellent book to either purchase or reserve at your
> local library. It’s very helpful to understand your dogs’ body
> language when living with a pack. The photos are excellent, including
> the ones where she’s being Leader of the Pack. Those, often, are
> simply her sitting in a chair, not interfering with pack communication.

> Click here: Canine Body Language
> <http://www.fleetfiretimbers.com/FFT/Articles/Books/Canine%20Body%20Language.htm&gt;


More later….we just got up and had a very well supervised, well
behaved morning period of sits before chicken strips, comes for
breakfast, sits before chews, etc….
I took Sammy for a good walk yesterday.  Today I will try to take all of


Permission granted, of course.
More later….we just got up and had a very well supervised, well
behaved morning period of sits before chicken strips, comes for
breakfast, sits before chews, etc….
I took Sammy for a good walk yesterday.  Today I will try to take all of

LhasaLhady@aol.com wrote:
> I’m probably the wrong person to ask about meds for canine anxiety.
> I’m not a big meds fan to start with. Without seeing the episodes
> you’re describing, if all his tests are normal, then my current
> conclusion is to agree with your suggestion that he’s a …how did you
> describe him…spoiled, pushy brat. In which case, with your current
> endeavor of devouring all you can about becoming Leader of the Pack,
> incorporating techniques you’ll learn CONSISTENTLY!! …well, I’d give
> all of that a long, good try before I medicated him. The trembling may
> very well be coming from your change in leadership. He got growly, you
> cuffed him and told him to “stop it”, which was the appropriate thing
> to do. However, if Sammy isn’t used to being reprimanded for shabby
> behavior, this could very easily throw him off. He received an
> unusual, unexpected message from you and he could be uncertain what
> the next message will be. DO NOT comfort or soothe that behavior.
> Ignore it.

> I would definitely find something Sammy likes and can succeed at while
> this transition is happening. Does he do any tricks? You might ask him
> often to do the trick. Reward him with treats (lo-cal, it seems would
> be appropriate). Reward him with praise. Ah! Sammy what an EXCELLENT
> beg!! Good boy! You are so clever! Speak in a higher pitched, silly,
> happy voice.

> Susan, I think this conversation should go on the blog. With your
> permission, I would like to do a synopsis and go from there. The
> purpose wouldn’t be for input from others (although that may happen).
> The purpose would be to educate others. This is a very important issue
> for a number of reasons, including contentment of ordinary life for
> you and the dogs. A lot of people live with less than desirable
> situations with their animals that they could resolve, often quite
> easily.

Regarding the books I got from the library:  The Dodman book gave me
everything I needed in the first chapter, simply because it addressed
what happened to be my problem with Sammy right there.  Whew.  The Cesar
Millan book is….another CM book….good information, preachy and
somewhat annoying but worth it as reinforcement I guess.  The book
called “Dogs Don’t Lie about Love”, or some such thing was basically

I did order the Canine Body Language from Amazon and am eagerly awaiting it.
Another Cesar Millan book is waiting for me at the library today.

Everything has gotten better already, however.  As with all relationship
issues, and of course the pack is just a multiple relationship issue,
just the smallest amount of change my my part causes a change in the
whole dynamic.  We’ve been walking at least every other day (yup 3 dogs
on leashes and one in his pouch), earning treats, and being ignored
commandingly enough to have gotten the respect back to where it
belongs.  Yesterday Sammy had a burr on his tail and when I went to
wriggle it off he started to growl at me.  I just told him to STOP THAT
and he did;  he really had to struggle with himself, but….he did and I
got it off and told him he was a good boy.  He’s feeling much better to
know that I’m sturdy enough to take care of him.

Champ?  Gee, he’s sort of a non-issue here.  He’s just completely
absorbed into the household.  I haul him outside a few times a day just
to be sure he doesn’t ever need to pee or poop when he’s confined;  when
I leave the house in the car I either take him or I leave him on the
front porch with the porch door open so he could get outside; and we
have had no accidents since whenever we started the discussion of how to
train him.

All in all….
All is well….
I’m spending more time learning more about the dogs eye view of the
world, and really understanding that better really does make it easier
to live with them….for them and for me…


2 Comments on “Leader of the Pack”

  1. lhasalhady says:

    Susan, I agree with you about the Jeffrey Lyons book, Dogs Never Lie About Love. Useless. It might be an entertaining read, but useless for training. While I believe dogs – and other animals – have emotions, I don’t think it’s worthwhile to consider emotions when teaching or learning. My parenting style often reflected that belief. Think. Act. Feel. In that order. Actions should come from the think part, not the feel part. Generally speaking…but I digress.

    The Dodman book, on the other hand, I’m going to devour from front to back. You mentioned the first chapter,Leader of the Pack, was the only relevant chapter in your situation. Probably so.

    I’m going to read the entire book because of my own general interest in expanding my knowledge. He presents case histories. He’s an internationally known expert in animal behavior research and in the veterinary practice of animal psychology. Thanks for bringing this book to my attention.

  2. Susan says:

    Debbie. I’m glad you agree with my quick assessment of the books. I’ve still got the Dodman book, and I’m going to look at it more carefully again, since Champ is definitely displaying a different kind of aggression — towards Tashi, towards visitors, etc. My guess is that now that he’s decided he loves it here and it’s his space, he’s defending it against any and all who try to arrive after him. Aargh….

    My copy of Canine Body Language hasn’t arrived yet, but I am definitely looking forward to it.


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