Leadership. What Does It Mean In Dog Training?

I believe dogs need someone to set boundaries and provide guidance and protection, when necessary. In that sense you are a leader. 

I don’t believe that needs to be achieved by being forceful. 

Unfortunately the term leader has a negative connotation.

There are many types of leaders. 

Think Ghandi vs Amin.

Behaviour is complex.

When discussing goals with clients often I am told “ I want my dog to walk beside me not in front “. “Why?”

This is when I get a puzzled look along with “aren’t they supposed to?”

The strongly held belief a dog needs to walk beside you, never in front, is tied to the notion of leadership and dominance. Those two are often closely linked together.

Somehow, by allowing your dog to walk ahead he becomes the one in control. 

I get the same puzzled look when discussing it’s not necessary for the human to exit the home first to prove leadership.

Perhaps the human simply needs to exit first to make sure there are no rabbits or cats to chase.

You have the opposable thumbs. You control all the resources including, food, play with you, belly rubs, access to outdoors, car rides, special chews, opportunity to play with other dogs, run into the water, and so on and so on.

Waiting for permission to exit, walking without pulling, giving up an item willingly, permission to play with others is simply a result of teaching and expecting good manners. 

As the leader in my home, it’s my responsibility to provide boundaries, age appropriate consequences and to teach and provide guidance as mistakes are made.

Rant over.