Does your dog know that you are "THE BOSS"?!

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Frequently we hear that if your dog doesn't know that you are boss he will walk all over you, try to take over the household, control food or things. It is also frequently advised that if there are children in the home that the dog should be "beneath them". The idea is that if your dog knows that you are the "leader" and "in charge" then he will not challenge you and the dog will never rule your life...

In order to show your dog who is the boss we are told to do the following things:
- Never let your dog lie on you or gain height (as per the photo)!
- Eat before your dog by pretending to eat from their bowl
- Walk through doorways before your dog to show them that you are more important than them
- Don't let your dog pull you on your walks as you should lead the hunt
- Show your dog that ALL items are yours by frequently removing toys and putting your hand into the food bowl
- Stand in your dogs bed
- Scruff your dog
- Stare your dog down
- Hold your dog down and only release when he "submits"
- Never let your dog in your bed, on the sofa or somewhere higher up than you may be

I should say at this stage NEVER DO ANY OF THE ABOVE

We hear that owners should be "calm and assertive" and all dogs should "submit" to their owners in all situations. This is all so wrong in my opinion and a distorted view of how dogs should be and how the should behave. This kind of attitude towards dogs can cause many problems. I firmly believe that thinking in this way will create a block between you and your dog or puppy. Thinking in this way can stunt the development of a puppy because the owner is so hung up on not giving the puppy an inch that they forget about the need for the puppy to develop coping skills, self control and important life skills.

The contradictions surrounding dominance theories are just too many for me. Firstly we are advised not to let the dog rule your life and in order to do this we are supposed to arrrange meal times around the dog, get crackers to eat in front of the dog, run through doorways in front of the dog, frantically keep the dog behind us on walks and so on. Now surely adhering to the latter means that your life is being controlled by owning a dog?

Personally I like for my dogs to walk on a loose lead, this can be in front off, beside or behind me. As long as the lead is loose the walk continues. I like to be able to feed my dogs when I am ready and this is frequently before I eat. I like my dogs to sit up on the couch with me, this is why I have dogs, for the company and to share my movie treats with them from time to time. Most of all I like when my dogs stay calm even when I may be loosing my marbles! They are independent and able to cope themselves.

So I for one won't be eating out of my dogs bowl, I won't be trying to project any calm assertive energy onto them. I like them just the way they are and they are testiment to the fact that canine submission is not a requirement for a happy successful human to dog relationship.