I just came back from walking the dogs and witnessed Reilly’s calm, assertive pack leader style in action, with Pack Leader Psychology lessons for human relationships as well.
Another dog was off leash and for no reason came running down the trail very aggressively, charging directly at Reilly. Reilly stopped walking and stood her ground very calmly. She didn’t become anxious or run away or charge back at the other dog. It was so amusing to watch the other dog literally skid to a halt on her back haunches, wood chips flying, inches from Reilly’s face, as he became aware of Reilly’s Pack Leader authority. The bluff charge stopped instantly when Reilly did not back down, cower or countercharge.
Of course, I also stayed calm and watchful, which may have helped dissuade the other dog. I sped up to be right next to Reilly and was ready to take action against this dog, but I did not over-react in anxiety either.
I was also aware that dog trainers say the most dangerous dog is not usually the one who charges. These dogs are actually scared and insecure, and can be frightened off easily. The dog who is growling and standing its ground is the one to be most cautious of. This dog means business.
More people need to behave as Reilly and I did. Sadly, most human Dominators are like this bully dog. They are used to bluffing and threatening their way through life. They argue and scream and tantrum and criticize, or worse, become physically abusive. Then others around them cower (Submissives), argue back, (Dominators) or avoid the situation (Avoiders).
Just yesterday I was working with a patient whose ex-girlfriend and the mother of his son is an extreme Dominator. Like a dog that charges for no reason at all, she constantly is blaming and shaming him and others in her life. This provokes him to anger and he feels the need to argue back to her, which quickly escalates into loud fights and even physical violence.
I tried to help him see that by countercharging the ex-girlfriend’s Dominating behavior with his own Dominating behavior, it is exactly what she wants to provoke. She enjoys these fights and can have more ammunition against him: “I told you so… you are aggressive and violent with me. It’s all your fault.”
As difficult as it may be, he needs to stand his ground calmly, respectfully and firmly, but not counterattack. She may eventually learn that her threats and attacks do not work.
It is a Dominator’s low self-worth and emotional insecurity that cause these bluff charges. Dominators want to keep everyone else cowering, because they have learned that this often keeps the criticism at bay that they have such difficulty handling emotionally.
Instead, Pack Leaders have strong self-worth and feel no need to intimidate or threaten others. They can handle criticism without feeling emotionally attacked. They can spot the Dominators as they start to rush down the trail and know that these insecure people are no real threat, that this charge is merely a bluff backed up by no real personal substance or character.
As I discuss in “Pack Leader Psychology,” this is why we need more Pack Leader people and stronger Packs: So we can teach Dominators how to behave correctly and improve the emotional and behavioral health of everyone who is harmed by these bullies. Until all of us band together to stand up to the Dominators, they will not stop their threats and drama. Every time we allow them to get away with intimidation or aggression, it reaffirms that this bullying works and encourages them to repeat it.
Every day in my psychotherapy practice I deal with the results of the havoc these dysfunctional people sow: disrupted families, unhealthy marriages, depression and anxiety, child abuse, substance abuse, domestic violence, and crime.
Just as Reilly tried to teach that charging dog a lesson, we must all commit to stopping this epidemic of Dominator behavior in humans to help improve the emotional and physical health of current and future generations.