are strongly pack oriented animals
prefer to be closer to the center of the den
Firefighters are no different. To many of them, telling colored jokes, smoking where they please, leaving the day room a mess is acceptable to them. Maybe that's what they do at home. If that's the case, then to them that is acceptable behavior. As long as it is your fire station, is undesirable behavior. Establish rules, regulations, and guidelines to let them know what is acceptable behavior.
When dogs start undesirable behavior, its best to try to understand the source of this behavior. Often it stems from the frustration of being left alone. Dogs are very social animals. One positive solution is to make sure your dog is properly exercised. Exercise is a wonderful cure to many behavioral problems and dogs just love it. Firefighters are no different. When we are bored we will do things to break the boredom. Maybe a prank or possibly some other disruptive behavior may break the monotony, but it will cause havoc for others.
Like our four legged friends, chances are, if your guys exercise, that excess energy will be burned off. Think about when you've returned to quarter from back to back working fires. Everyone just wants to get cleaned up, get something to eat and relax. Why? Because that excess energy has been burned off. Chances are there will be few problems with horseplay now. Next, recall your last shift that you didn't turn a wheel. Horseplay, childish behaviors and other problems to deal with? I'll bet the answer is yes!
your dog look guilty?
Screaming and yelling at the dog, or punishing it well after the fact does not tell your dog what is wrong. You may in fact wind up teaching it to fear you, or consider you unreliable. You must get your dog to understand you, and you have to work on the communication gap, as you are more intelligent than your dog.
Preventing your dog from unwanted behaviors coupled with properly timed corrections will go much further in eliminating the behavior from your pet than yelling at it. In fact, you should not yell at, scream at, or hit your dog, ever. There are much more effective ways to get your point across. Try instead to understand the situation from your dog's point of view and act accordingly. The techniques in this chapter approach problems with this in mind.
Have you ever walked into the station and get the feeling that something is going on? Remember, it takes two to tango. You walked in, the firefighters were already there. Are they reacting to how you look? Did you walk in and slam the door, mumbling under your breath? If this was the case, then the firefighters are automatically onthe the defensive. They will have the "Oh, know here he comes look on their faces..." You'll interpret that as they look guilty.
show a dog "who is boss" yelling at it or via other methods of punishment
Yelling and screaming will accomplish little except give you a sore throat. Your firefighters know you are the boss. You were appointed, picked, selected, knighted or somehow got the position you have. That does not mean that everyone will throw rose petals at your feet. They know your the boss. Your uniform probably looks different. How you act, how you treat them, how you behave will reinforce that you are the boss. They will trust you as you will make decisions in their best interest.
Interestingly, many forms of behavior that have been touted as showing dominance over a dog backfire badly. This is because in many cases dogs really aren't contending for the "top dog" position: applying techniques to "show him who is boss" in these instances results in the dog being alienated from you and distrusting you because you corrected it for no good reason.
While there are times that you have to correct inappropriate behavior, the simple principles of praising in public and disciplining in private will go a long way. Treat all your firefighter the same. No favorites.
There will be problem children in your ranks who will test just how far they can push you. Like the dog, they really do what to have a leader. Without a leader there is no organization in the pack. A good way to see this in action is to have five or six firefighters, all peers, assigned to a task without a leader. There will be in-fighting and bickering. Eventually on of the individuals will rise as leader of the pack and the others will follow.
An alpha leader is fair. An alpha leader deserves its position. An alpha leader does not use fear, punishment or brute force to achieve and maintain its position. An alpha leader, instead, makes it crystal clear what behaviors it approves of and which it does not. An alpha leader expects its subordinates to follow its lead, it does not force them to.
Praise your dog when it drops its eyes first. Praise it when it licks you under the chin. Give it an enthusiastic tummy rub when it rolls over on its back. When your personnel do things right, praise then. (I'd avoid the tummy rub!!!!)
Authors note: A special thanks to Cindy Moore who wrote the original
article on dog behavior.