So You Say You Have to Be the Boss?

Posted by PetSteps DogTraining on Wednesday, February 4, 2015

With the popularity of celebrity dog training these days that preach the idea that you have to be the pack leader, that you have to be the boss, what does that mean? We all have bosses. Children’s bosses are their parents, parent’s bosses are their employers, citizens have bosses which we call governments, and the religious have the highest level of boss, the all mighty one. So saying that you have to be the boss of your dog is a pretty meaningless statement. We all have bosses in some situations and we are the boss in other situations. Sometimes we even let our kids be the boss when we think they are mature enough and ready for the task. Being the boss is not the end all be all. It can be a fluid relationship. Hopefully, the boss tends to be the one with the most knowledge or experience, so in that case, who else would be the boss of your dog? If you are smarter than your dog, then you should naturally be the boss. If you are not smarter…. well you might want to hire a trainer to teach you how to be smarter.

Now let’s instead talk about the types of bosses out there. Let’s talk about the type of boss you want to work for and prefer and let’s talk about the qualities that make a good or even great boss!

In my opinion there are generally two types of bosses. Those that earn respect and those that demand it. I will call the ones that earn it “Leaders” and the ones that demand it “Dictators”. Here’s the difference between the two:






Promotes Fear

Leads by example

Makes orders, bosses around


Expects you to know



Problem solvers

Problem creators

Serves the group

Expects the group to serve him

Promote individual’s performance

Promote themselves



Depends on goodwill

Depends on authority

Generates enthusiasm

Generates fear

Fixes breakdowns of communication

Blames breakdowns of communication

Develops talent

Uses talent

Gives credit

Takes credit



Says “Let us go…”

Tell us to “…Go!”

Sees things in grey

Sees things in black and white

Never forgets the big picture

Gets lost in the details



Now when we look at ourselves as good dog Leaders what does that mean? It should mean that we first take the time to understand our dogs, understand their biology and psychology. It means that we make consistent rules that are fairly applied based on the dog’s ability to comply and not just our desires. We take the time to teach our dogs properly to ensure that we have clearly communicated what the rules and expectations are. We promote and encourage our dog’s strength and don’t dwell too much on their weaknesses. We earn their respect by being great Leaders.

The “Bosses” or Dictators of the dog world focus on correcting their dog for mistakes. They set unrealistic expectations. They get angry when their dogs does not fulfill what they desire. They use physical means and fear to promote compliance. They demand respect because they say they are the boss and they end up instead being feared and mistrusted.

Now? What type of boss do you want to be for your dog? If you want to be your dog’s Leader, I can help you become one.