This quote from Bradshaws book sets the scene, something that I have felt for a long time, that analogies with other relationships/species have their role, but you can run into trouble if you take them too far.
Lots of trainers talk about being a pack or alpha leader to their dog. Some talk more about their relationship with their dog as being more like that of a parent to a child. Both analogies have their use, but they don’t fully describe what the relationship between dog and owner is like. Who wants to take on a “role” of anything every time they get through the front door and want to relax and have fun with their dog – not me! Likewise, however much we may nurture our dogs, it cannot be the same as the bond a parent has with their human child.
The bond between a dog and its owner is unique and we are doing it a disservice unless we recognise and respect this bond in its own right. There are many leadership skills that are useful when training our dogs, but that doesn’t mean we have some sort of fixed role towards our dogs the whole time. We can be leader, parent, work colleague, friend to our dog. This is the marvellous thing about dogs – their adaptability.
“The great thing about a dog is that you can make a fool of yourself in front of him and not only will he not scold you, but he will frequently make a fool of himself too”