How To Have A Good Relationship and a Well-Mannered Dog
There is no simple formula to replace the "pack leader" myth. Think of your relationship with your dog as part best friend, part parent, and part sibling. The characteristics of those relationships include the following:
- Friends like doing a lot of the same things, and enjoy playing and spending time together.
- There are disagreements and conflicts in the relationship, but each individual cares enough about the other to make up and forgive. (Dogs forgive us far easier than we forgive them.)
- Parents set reasonable and fair limits on behavior and help children follow them by teaching and guiding much more than disciplining.
- Each knows what the other likes and doesn't like, and tries to accommodate those preferences.
- There is shared communication. It's relatively easy to tell when the other is upset, or something is wrong. Each knows the other's unique quirks or subtle indications about what the other is likely thinking or feeling.
- Parents want the best for their children, and do whatever they can to help them reach their full potential.
Print out this list, to remind you of how much a good relationship with your dog resembles a good relationship with other people who are important in your life.
For many people, dropping the "pack leader" idea brings a sigh of relief. I can't tell you how many times people have regretfully told me how guilty they feel because they haven't been a good "alpha", or been able to be a "pack leader" and therefore caused all their dog's problems. And these are usually the people who are the most committed to their dogs and their well-being. When they learn they can have a great dog and not have to worry about being the "pack leader" they are thrilled. Just as you should be now.