Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Yard Boss

I've been ask to talk a little bit about the dogs that become "yard boss". They are also sometimes referred to as "Sargent at arms", "pack leader", "pack supervisor" to name a few of the many different titles they are known have.

First, it is important to understand that a "yard boss" can't be made. The dog in question either has what takes or doesn't. Yard boss dogs come in all sizes and a couple of different attitude styles. They must know all the rules of the yard, both the pack rules and the human rules. This is not something that just any dog can do. In fact, most dogs want nothing at all to do with the amount of responsibility that is a major part of the job.

From my own experience there seem to be two different types of boss dogs. There are the boss dogs that use distractions to get the job done and there are boss dogs that make use of body contact to get the job done. The one thing both types have in common is an ability to communicate with every single dog in the yard and then take it to the next level and communicate with the human or humans in charge.

Some of these dogs come into their position at a very young age and others take several years to sort of sneak up on the job. Wrap came into her position as yard boss at a young age. See was about 18 months when she started working as a yard boss. The thing I remember most clearly was how she handled problems that arose between older dogs. She would seemingly bump into one or the other of the angry dogs and then fall over and start wiggling and kicking her legs as if she were still a little puppy. All the adult dogs found that to be so off putting they would move away in disgust. Of course that was exactly what she wanted, the almost fight forgotten in their mutual distaste of a young adult dog acting like a puppy.

One of the things that seems to make it easier for a young dog to grow into the position is the amount of formal training they have and how serious their jobs are to the existing humans. The more formal training and the more real jobs a dog has the higher the status in the yard. This doesn't appear to be something that can be forced or changed by a human. It is just something that happens.

By the time Wrap was 2-1/2 she had managed to tease, laugh, play the fool and handle all the work that called for a dog, right up the top of the pack. And that is pretty much were she stayed until the day she died.

I think the reason why Sanity has taken so long reaching yard boss status and is still struggling with the position is because she really didn't feel she could fully take over as long as Wrap was still on the scene.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you very much for this post. Duncan seems to be using a similar "look at me act like a puppy!" distraction to what you described Wrap using. He's certainly not the "boss" of anything but his bumper toy currently, but I've been calling him a "yard duty" for a while, as he'll either go be super sunmissive in the middle of the morons, or alert me to any tall tail contest before it becomes serious.
    Interesting that you mention formal training being a key element. Thinking back, I do believe he'd been started on Public Access training before he did anything other than run and hide when the other dogs got snarly.
    Thanks again for posting.