Are you worried about being the Pack Leader? Are you extra worried because you've heard that you have to be firm, stern or gruff and that's hard for you? Are you extra, extra worried about your dog misbehaving because you can't be the Pack Leader?
I've got good news for you! Being a Pack Leader is easier than you think!
1) Provide for your dog's physical needs (food, water, medical care, and shelter).
Check, check, check! I bet you've got all these covered. If you want to double check the quality of his food (diet can and does impact behavior), check out Dog Food Advisor.
2) Build a relationship of trust and affection.
You already like your dog and he probably already adores you! The trust aspect can be a bit more challenging to determine sometimes. Learning some dog body language basics will give you deeper insight into what your dog is actually thinking and feeling. Once you know how he's feeling, you can respond accordingly to begin building that trust with him.
3) Establish a common vocabulary.
Leading is tough if your followers can't understand you. Use reward-based training techniques to teach your dog the meaning of words and gestures so you can make your requests clear and he can understand them!
Reward-based techniques are key here to continue building trust.
4) Provide for your dog's mental needs.
Training games and other forms of enrichment are ideal for this! It's about having fun together (which also builds the relationship)! Check out the Canine Enrichment group on Facebook for LOADS of ideas.
That's it! Don't fret about having to speak sternly, roll him onto his side, scruff him, or pop his collar. It's not even necessary!
You also don't have to eat first, go through doorways first, make him walk beside you, or keep him off the furniture. Doing these things won’t automatically spoil him.