As a result of being both a baby boomer and a veteran, I am quite familiar with the teaching philosophy centered on the concept of “Do as I say or else!” with the “or else” usually consisting of an expletive laced tirade linked with some sort of physical punishment. The rationale for this philosophy was usually summed up by the phrase “It’s for your own good.”
In retrospect, I can see that this method may have been effective and even necessary, especially in the case of my military training. But then I have the luxury of a complex brain that can not only evaluate the cost/benefit equation of a given situation, I can reflect upon its effectiveness at a later date. In short, I can rationalize, and here lies my problem with physical corrections promoted under the guise of “pack leadership.”
Our dogs are not conscripts that understand they may soon be in a life or death situation with their lives dependent on following orders without hesitation. Nor are they able to rationalize that punishment is for their own personal growth.
Pack leader theory begs me to believe that by employing physical corrections, my dog will come to see me as the leader of our little troupe and thus fall in line like a good little soldier. However, unless I am gifted with the supreme timing and the omniscience of a drill sergeant, it’s just as likely that my dog will come to see me as something to be avoided.
My personal opinion is that pack leader theory is based more on appealing to my vanity as a leader, instead of the science of how dogs learn; using human psychology to get me to overlook the psychology of the animal I want to train. And that is the reason I don’t need or want, to be a pack leader.