How many times have you heard or read that you must be a pack leader to your dogs? This idea has certainly been a mainstay of dog training for decades.
The argument goes like this: “Dogs are pack animals, and there always must be a leader of the pack. You need to make sure that your dog understands that you are his or her leader. Once you’ve done that, you will have gained the respect and confidence of your dog. Having done this will make dog training a whole lot easier for you.”
Without going into a lot of history of dog training theories, I can just say that clicker training and other positive reinforcement methods work for all mammals and nobody is claiming (so far as I know!) that you have to convince your cats or rabbits that you are the pack leader. So the newer emphasis on these methods (which my site is all about) really gets us away from the pack argument. Is it true or false that dogs are pack animals and you should be the boss? I’ve seen plenty of arguments both ways. Ho hum. Seems to me that the new methods make the pack ideas beside the point.
Rather than having a dog who thinks I am the pack leader, I want a dog who thinks I am good news. Very good news. I want a dog who pays attention to me because he’s never sure what interesting and fun game I will start playing. I want a dog whose respect (if that is a dog concept) I have earned because I don’t cause him undue pain or suffering. I want a dog who knows I love him, and who loves me. I want a dog who is willing, even eager, to do what I ask of him.