A little girl hugging her dog

Our Role as Pet Parents Part 3 – Dog Leadership Needs

In the last post, Our Role as Pet Parents Part 2, we looked at our dog’s needs and how Nigel Reed, author of The Dog Guardian, adapted Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to canines.

In this post, let’s have a quick look at Nigel’s view on how wolf pack leaders meet those needs and how we must also meet those needs as pet parents or guardians.

What if dog leadership needs aren’t met?

Q. What happens if we don’t meet our dog’s needs as leaders?

A. They are forced to take on leadership roles to meet those needs.

This can lead to all sorts of unwanted behaviours as our dogs try and fail to take on a leadership role in a complex human world.

Nigel highlights the four main leadership areas: Food, Perceived Danger, Status, and On the Hunt.

Dog Food Puppy GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY


These things aren’t taught to us…

Up to this point, I’d been reading the book and nodding along, thinking that yes, this absolutely makes sense and just fits in perfectly with the Bounce and Bella way, but…

Here was where theory began to cross over into practice, and I could see the ways I’d been going wrong personally with my interactions with our lovely Roscoe.

But these things aren’t taught to us when we get our new woofy companion.

If we’re lucky, particularly conscientious or interested, we may stumble upon this kind of training information, but for most of us, training consists of the basics such as; sit, lie down, toilet training and a reasonable recall.

Now that I’ve read the book, I can see what’s been going wrong, but I also have a blueprint to help change Roscoe and (more importantly) my behaviour.

Dog Leadership photo: Man and dog sitting on the edge looking at the view.

Four Main Dog Leadership Areas

Here is Nigel’s summary of how the key leadership areas for wolf packs – Food, Perceived Danger, Status and On the Hunt – translate to our roles as pet parents/guardians:

“1. Leader around food – your dog understands you will provide the food and are entitled to priority feeding.

2. Leader regarding security needs – your dog understands that you will decide what to do regarding perceived dangers and trusts your decisions.

3. Leader who instigates interaction – your dog understands that you decide when it is time to interact and is relaxed when you leave, and when you come in.

4. Leader on the walk – your dog understands that it is you who instigates when to go on the walk, where you walk, and at what speed, and it follows.”

Owner's demonstrating dog leadership with their dog

The Dog Guardian Nigel Reed

I don’t want to go into too much detail here because,

(a) that’s what the book is for – and I really do encourage you to have a look at it:


(b) And it’ll be great to cover some of these things with Roscoe in future posts!

If you’re interested and want to find out more about our pet parenting roles (as well as seeing how I get on trying to become the pet parent Roscoe needs) – click the link to sign up for our newsletter: Newsletter Sign-Up.

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5 months ago

Do check out our dog boarding service woofyclub for all dog parents out there.


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