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If you are not your dog’s leader, you will not be respected. A dog who doesn’t respect her owner can show the attitude in many different ways; she might growl when you go to move her off the sofa or bed or when she has a toy or bone. She might snap at you when you try to groom her, or she may even try to mount you. Disrespect may also show up in a refusal to do obedience training or even a refusal to play with you...
 

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If you are not your dog’s leader, you will not be respected. A dog who doesn’t respect her owner can show the attitude in many different ways; she might growl when you go to move her off the sofa or bed or when she has a toy or bone. She might snap at you when you try to groom her, or she may even try to mount you. Disrespect may also show up in a refusal to do obedience training or even a refusal to play with you...
I don't think dogs conceptualize "respect" the way you are thinking about it, nor are their "needs" (to play, be pet or interact with humans) usually what humans need.

The term "pack leader" is a bit of a misnomer. So are the terms "calm assertive" and "calm submissive".

Those terms were all popularized by a tv show, however, while they were intended to convey a particular specific set of concepts (concepts that I do not believe are "obsolete" as noted above) they were very poorly chosen words because

a) the word "leader" has a different connotation to humans than it does to animals
b) the word "assertive" is often confused in America particularly with "aggressive"
and
c) the word "submissive" is often confused with the words "meek" and "passive", which is absolutely not what it was intended to convey.

In order to really truly understand what is meant by these terms you need to do more than watch the TV, you need to read a number of books about the underlying conceptual framework of what Cesar Milan is saying.

I will lay out why I think it is not "obsolete" below (I am summarizing the content of several books in a few sentences here so go read the books if these concepts appeal to you):

1) if you think about the term "calm assertive" in terms of "confident and relaxed" then you're getting more into the ballpark of what he meant. That concept is not obsolete and never will be. A human being who is confident and relaxed has an effect on everyone around them. Their children, their partner, their friends, colleagues, strangers AND the dog! A confident relaxed person is modeling a behaviour and that behaviour will "rub off" on people around them. Dogs are particularly prone to wanting to model your behaviour (actually, more your mood) and being "confident and relaxed" (calm assertive) will have a positive impact on the dog.

2) if you think about the term "calm submissive" in terms of "calm and relaxed" then you will see that what the "leader" in terms of the book is modeling is what the dog is emulating. What Milan means by a calm submissive dog is a dog that is relaxed (not too excited) and able to listen to commands.

3) things also work the other way. If the "leader" is modeling undesirable behaviour (or mood) then the dog will mirror that and you're being your own worst enemy. The "pack leader" in the these terms is just the one who is in the roll of "modeler" and not "modelee" as it were. Dogs will almost automatically follow the "modeler" if the modeling behaviour is explicit enough. It's genetics and it works so well that you could almost think you're "programming" the dog.

In fact this is no different than the 'reward' system that is popular now in one sense, which is that you are "conditioning" the dog to display behaviours that you want to see.

Where it is VERY different than the reward system is in the approach to the "correction". When you are training a dog you can see "correction" / "reward" as being two sides of a scale of options. Any way you look at it you are conditioning the dog but where Milan focuses on "correcting" (ie, redirecting or interrupting an undesirable behaviour) the going paradigm for training these days is to ignore undesirable behaviours until the "right" thing comes out and then to reward the dog for doing the "right" thing.

Neither one of these options is "obsolete", but there is a general consensus in the dog training community at the moment that rewards for desirable behaviour are preferable.

Personally I don't think the dog really gives a rat's ass if you're "correcting" or "rewarding". They accept both and both work. It's human sensitivity that is at play here because humans think that "rewarding" is the gentler option, and since it gets the same result then....

What I think (and what I do) is to use a combination. When I need to train my dog to rid him of a behaviour I don't like then I will "show" him (model) what I expect him to do. That takes some creativity. I may (or may not) correct (ie. interrupt) the old behaviour when I see it and I will DEFINITELY reward the behaviour I want to see. For that reason I believe that the two extremes of either all corrections or all rewards are probably less effective than an approach somewhere in the middle.

When you are training a dog, however, corrections are much MUCH trickier than rewards. It's always clear when a reward is in order and it's hard to reward "too much". However, it's not always clear when a correction is in order. It's easy to be too late with a correction, which will confuse the dog, and it's very easy to be too heavy handed with a correction, which aside from being unnecessary could create new "issues" that you didn't have before.

So if you're going to try being a "pack leader" by emulating what you saw on TV, then at the very least I think you need to read voraciously and intelligently about this approach before you even try it. What you see on the TV is highly compressed, incomplete, inaccurate and intended for entertainment. The approach is clearly laid out in the books but if you aren't going to read the books and to try to REALLY understand what is in there, then you're probably better off jumping on the "reward" bandwagon and using that approach instead.

Rewards are easier to give and harder to screw up... and since you need to learn the reward approach even if you do use some corrections, I would advise to learn a reward based approach first and master that before doing any corrections.

Does that make sense?
 

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If you are not your dog’s leader, you will not be respected. A dog who doesn’t respect her owner can show the attitude in many different ways; she might growl when you go to move her off the sofa or bed or when she has a toy or bone. She might snap at you when you try to groom her, or she may even try to mount you. Disrespect may also show up in a refusal to do obedience training or even a refusal to play with you...
Incidentally, I should add that the examples of undesirable behaviour your mentioned are all things that I believe you, as the owner, *generate* by *your* behaviour.

It is not something wrong with the dog. The dog isn't "disrespecting" you, it is doing what a dog will do when you are not being clear what you expect.

The fact that you see this as "disrespect" and are talking about "pack leader" concerns me because I think you have failed to understand the first thing about training a dog. I'm not trying to be mean here, I'm just saying what I think.

I would strongly advise you to look for a trainer and learn more about how to train your dog. Dog training, by the way, isn't for the dog. Dog training is mostly about teaching the human and it sounds to me that for the sake of your dog (and anyone you or your dog encounters on the streets) you should really pursue finding a trainer.

I'm sorry to be so direct about this but there really isn't a good round about way to say it.
 
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