There are many blog posts and studies proving that you do not need to be a 'pack leader' to your dog. If you would like more information on this, I am more than happy to point you in the right direction. This post is more about what I AM instead of what I'm NOT (a pack leader!).
There is a video going around right now of many trainers stating their name and that they are not a pack leader. I would like to join them. I am Monica Callahan. I am a KPA-CTP, business owner, and owner of two dalmatians, yet I am not a pack leader. My dogs do not run the house, they abide by the rules, yet I am not a pack leader. I am an owner, partner, and friend at different points in our relationship.
I am an owner, and a responsible one at that. I provide food, exercise, and shelter for my dogs. This is what is expected of you as a responsible owner. I do not make my dogs eat after me, I do not withhold food for bad manners. My dogs are still well behaved.
I am a partner. It is my responsibility to show my dogs how to act and to teach them the rules of the house in a humane, safe way. I do not expect my dog to listen to me because he should automatically respect me. That respect develops and is earned just as you would earn it with a child. My dogs are my partners in the show ring. When we start gaiting the circle, or begin the agility course, we work together because we enjoy it, not because I am commanding my dog to follow me.
I am a friend. Who wants to live being afraid of your fellow housemate? I am not afraid that my husband will hit me, nor my child, why should my dog be afraid that I am going to hit them? When we go for walks, when we enjoy a night in, I am enjoying the company of a companion, a friend. We are comfortable with each other, we enjoy each other. We do not fear each other.
Monica Callahan KPA-CTP