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Landela Dogs - Follow the dogs

Landela is a Zulu and siSwati word meaning 'follow'. At Landela dogs we follow the way dogs establish social groups, allowing us to better understand the needs of our dogs and communicate clearly with them. 

I spent a few years growing up in Southern Africa where most homesteads had one or more dogs. Many of these were property guardians, a few were family pets, more were both. The wild was on our doorstep, and both human and dog existed in a way that respected nature and each other. I never once encountered anyone with dog behavioural issues there, perhaps because so often dogs had a role within/without the house (guard dog/herder/companion/hunter) and their role was clearly defined, with no compromise; the dogs understood what was expected of them and they were never allowed to assume the role of leader. There was a perfect balance of leadership, employment and affection from the owner, and deference, loyalty, obedience and love from the dog. As far as I can tell, no-one needed to teach these owners that their dogs needed to be their followers first and their friends second - something people in the Western world find a little harder to grasp. But that hasn't always been the case.

Dogs and humans evolved alongside each other. In some societies, inextricably linked, each prospering from the other's skills and instincts. Dogs have protected flocks and property, hunted food, pulled sleds and carts, defended against bigger predators and herded livestock in a manner quite beyond a single man or woman. In return they received warmth, food, and a place in a 'pack' that was able to sustain itself and protect its members with more stability and success than a wild wolf-pack. They are intelligent, loyal, strong, fierce and deadly but it is their capacity for affection and companionship that has kept them by our sides for thousands of years. 

In evolving away from a partnership based on survival and mutual advantage, I believe we've lost sight of how to communicate with dogs effectively. This isn't true of every owner or every dog but it certainly applies to some, and that's where some common behavioural problems start.

I want to help you follow the ways dogs behave in their social packs to establish leadership in your household so that your dogs let you make the decisions, not the other way around. If your dog pulls you on the lead, barks at you for attention or play, is aggressive or territorial towards friends or neighbours, is possessive, jumps on furniture he knows he's not allowed on or simply doesn't listen to you, then your dog is in control and you will need to establish yourself as a leader if you want to halt these unwanted behaviours. 

About Thuli Lamb

I've had dogs or cats or both since I was 4 years old and I know how much joy a pet can bring. I also know how frustrating, depressing or scary it can be if, for one reason or another, you don't have the control you need or the rewarding relationship you want from your pet. When I was at University I took sole charge of my parent's largely untamed chocolate labrador and spent a good few years trying to bring calmness, confidence and balance into her life. Obedience inevitably followed and as the trust between us grew I began learning from her, watching the way she interacted with other dogs, diffusing moments of tension, ignoring unstable behaviour, initiating play, establishing her authority or displaying her submissiveness depending on the encounter. I began to watch documentaries, read books and academic papers, and my desire to learn more about the way dogs communicate with each other eventually led to the Cambridge Institute of Dog Behaviour and Training with their extensive range of dog behavioural courses and seminars. I am particularly interested in dog-on-person aggression, its reasons and how to treat it. 

In 2017 I travelled to Bulgaria to help out Street Hearts, a neutering campaign and street-dog rehab centre, to work closely with the feral, aggressive, scared, sick and abused dogs they have rescued there and learned a great deal in the process. I continue to be their consultant on behavioural issues and will visit as often as possible. Understanding the needs of traumatised or troubled dogs is something I have a true passion for and would love to further my work with rescue dogs and rehabilitation centres. 

 

When we aren't seeking out nice places to walk or helping with unruly pooches we're travelling to see family, or snuggling on the sofa (if it's invited behaviour - it's allowed!)