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Animal Friends Blog


Do You Need to be the Pack Leader?

Group of dogs

I recently came across a thread on a dog forum that discussed whether dog owners really need to be the ‘pack leader’ in order to get the best out of their dog. For the last 50 years, the majority of canine behaviour psychology has focused upon the belief that an owner needs to be dominant and exert themselves as pack leader in order for their dog(s) to be well behaved; from my experience this isn’t so.

I have had Archie my 9-going-on-2 year old border terrier since he was young and I quickly learnt that if I was too harsh with him then he would almost shun me for a few days in terms of interaction; he would still be obedient but would not want to play or be around me. That’s not to say that I am not strict with him, I am firm but fair.

From reading up and conducting some research I found that more and more people are straying away from the dominant pack leader approach to training a dog. After all, the way in which you train your dog at a young age will shape the relationship you have together throughout their life. Why should a human completely dominate a dog to submit into doing what the owner desires? Surely a better approach would be to earn a dog’s trust and love in a more inclusive and understanding way?

Of course, there is the argument that dogs descend from wolves, an animal that does operate in packs and has a pack leader. However, could it not be suggested that the dogs of today are much different from those that originally descended from wolves? Has the domestication of breeds over hundreds of years made them evolve into a more human-compatible species? And if so, should we not also be learning ourselves as we train our dogs? Rather than presuming that we know everything about how a dog’s mind works. Surely this will be more rewarding than simply making dog think you are the pack leader?

What are your thoughts on being the pack leader to your dog? Let us know the comments box below as we are sure this is a very contentious issue.

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Hello, fellow animal lovers! I’m Elena, and I take care of social media for Animal Friends Insurance. I’m here to share the latest on animal welfare, our charity work and pet care. I foster and adopt rabbits and have a rescue dog called Luna.

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