Quiz 16. You’re the boss.

Many articles advise us to make it clear to our dog that we are the boss.


The writers say silly things like, “Don’t feed your dog until you have eaten,” and, “Make it sit first,” and “Don’t let it defeat you in a tug-of-war,” and “Don’t let your dog walk ahead of you,” and heaps of other silly things.

Yes, that advice might apply if you have a dog that does want to dominate, but those dogs are the rare exception. You can find on Youtube tips on how to how to deal with a dominating dog, or gain the personal advice from a professional.

When someone recommends that we dominate our dogs it says more about that person than its does about dogs. The person has either been reading those misleading articles and believing them, or they themselves like to dominate.

Here is the thing: most dogs aren’t interested in being the boss. They’re happy for you to be the boss. You don’t have to spend time and effort unnecessarily insisting upon it, by dominating it.

I didn’t follow those rules with any of my dogs, yet I had no problem. I used to say to people, “I don’t care if he/she believes she is my boss, or the Leader of the Free World, provided he/she does what she is told”. (And they did what they were told.) My last dog would regularly defeat me in a lengthy tug-of-war. It was a game and we both knew it. But when I let the object go and told her to ‘Drop it’ she immediately dropped it and let me pick it up. That’s all that was needed. She did what she was told.

My dogs and I continually broke all those supposed ‘boss’ rules, but they did what they were told. That was all that mattered.

I am glad I didn’t waste precious time and energy forcing my dogs to sit before meals, or not walk ahead of me, and so on. My dogs would have humoured me by complying, but it would have been pointless, and it would have tainted the fun we had and the bonds we had.

Of course, dogs vary in attitude and temperament considerably, as do their owners. My example is a mere anecdote. But the message is clear: unless you have one of those rare alpha dogs that wants to dominate, forget about making sure you’re “the alpha” or “the pack leader”. Forget about dominating your dog. All you have to do is make sure of three things:
(1) your pet dog has a happy, healthy life, and
(2) your dog does what it is told, and
(3) your dog never growls at you or a member of your family.
   To achieve those three things you don’t need to dominate your dog, unless it’s the rare exception.

If your dog isn’t doing what it is told, it is not because you are not dominant enough; it’s either because you haven’t trained it properly and your dog is unclear about what you want, or it’s because you are not firm enough with it. (See the quiz on discipline.)