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How to Tell if YOU are your Dog's Leader (OR NOT)

I hear it very often.

"My dog definitely sees me as the leader."

"Oh, my dog for sure knows that I'm boss."

"I'm my dog's alpha."

When I hear lines like these, I have to dig a little deeper.

"How do you know your dog sees you as the leader?" I ask.

"Because when I shout at him, he tucks his tail between his legs and puts his ears down."

"Because when I come home and talk to him, he stops barking."

"Because he knows he did something wrong and he cowers when I just look at him."

"Because I have physically laid on him and won a staring contest."

I have heard all of these and others of varying degrees of cringe-worthiness.

I know folks WANT to believe that they are their dog's leader. I know there's a level of competence, confidence, and self-satisfaction that comes from believing that in the pack hierarchy, YOU are top dog.

But honestly, the dog doesn't care whether you THINK you're the leader. They care about who the leader is in reality.

And time and time again, in reality, it's the dog who's in the leadership position.

How can I be so sure?

Because leadership among dogs is NOT based on human psychology, but on dog psychology. And if only the dog is using dog psychology, then the dog is taking the position of leadership by default.

Why is this a big deal?

Because leading a human pack in a human world is stressful. Because the role of lead dog comes with responsibilities and stress that no dog should have to handle. All the stress and pressure of the lead role causes all sorts of behaviour issues.


  • general anxiety

  • jumping on you or guests

  • mouthing you

  • sitting on your feet or crowding

  • shadowing you around the house

  • clinginess

  • hyper-activity

  • inability to settle

  • resource guarding

  • hyper-vigilance

  • anxiety when you leave or over-excitement when you return

  • pulling on the leash


  • generally calm and relaxed

  • able to settle

  • handles meeting new dogs and people

  • loose leash and calm walks

  • looks to you for guidance

  • relatively independent

  • energy can come up and go down easily

Leadership is everything for your dog. It means survival. With proper leadership, your dog can feel relaxed and happy. Without leadership in the way he understands, he'll be stressed, having to take care of it all himself.

Do you want to learn how to step up to be your dog's leader? Contact me.

Here's to you and your dog!


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