Nigel Reed: Emotional Intelligence Based Dog Training

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Today’s Guest

Nigel Reed:

I’m so excited to introduce to you today’s guest, Nigel Reed, a dog trainer with over 20 years of experience who specializes in emotional intelligence based dog training techniques.


Nigel has turned his love for dogs into a lifelong career, helping families rebuild their relationships with their pups using kind training techniques and has an incredible resume behind his name! 

In fact, Nigel is the author of the bestselling book, The Dog Guardian and he holds certificates and qualifications in dog training behavior, animal assisted therapy, and wolf studies.

If you’re curious about Nigel’s dog training methods and how they are both similar and different from my own training methods, I invite you to check out my podcast episode now!

You’ll Hear About

  • [01:00] Who is Nigel Reed
  • [03:00] Nigel’s Approach to Dog Training  
  • [05:30] Emotional Intelligence Training Concept 
  • [07:30] The problem with shock collars and other harsh methods    
  • [14:30] 5 Building Blocks for Training  
  • [17:00] Fight, Freeze, or Flight    
  • [23:30] How to Raise a Happy Dog    
  • [25:40] Pack Leader Misconceptions 
  • [31:00] Crossover Between Wolves and Domestic Dogs 
  • [33:20] Candidolgy 
  • [34:50] The Issue With Zero Boundaries   
  • [37:30] Learn More About Nigel Reed

Links & Resources

Learn more by tuning into the podcast!

Thanks for listening—and again, don’t forget to subscribe to the show on iTunes / Spotify to get automatic updates.


~Doggy Dan 🙂

Nigel Reed (00:00):

Dog training, even the word “training” … I think when you use the word “training”, you lose your emotional intelligence because you're trying to think, how can I teach a dog a response? And rather when you're with your children, whatever, you're always trying to figure out the need behind a behavior. You're trying to use your emotional intelligence to tap into your child's psychology in order to fulfill the need. And why shouldn't dog training be the same?

Voiceover (00:26):

Welcome to The Doggy Dan Podcast Show, helping you unleash the greatness within your dog.

Doggy Dan (00:37):

Hello, and welcome everybody to another Doggy Dan Podcast. And today is, well, it's like every other podcast. I'm so excited. It's always true. I am excited today. I have Nigel Reed with me. And I am excited because Nigel's a dog behaviorist with 20 years experience. He's the author of the bestselling book, The Dog Guardian. He holds certificates and qualifications in dog training behavior, animal assisted therapy, and wolf studies. He's most known from his YouTube channel where his videos have accumulated over 7.5 million views. And one of the reasons is that in these videos, he demonstrates how to address a range of problems in dog behaviors, including aggression to other dogs, pulling on the lead, recall issues, separation, anxiety, and many, many more. He's the founder of The Wolf Within, which is a project that teaches young people with behavioral problems how to train dogs with behavioral problems and he has a goal to help 1 million dogs in his lifetime. Nigel, welcome to The Doggy Dan Podcast.

Nigel Reed (01:42):

Hi Dan, how are you?

Doggy Dan (01:43):

Great. Great. Now it is so good to have you here. You're in the UK. I'm in New Zealand. How's it with you today?

Nigel Reed (01:52):

Yeah, great. No complaints. The whole lockdown thing has been an issue, but I think you'll agree the dog trainers didn't come out too badly with the whole thing, which seems to massive uprise in dogs.

Doggy Dan (02:04):

Everybody's getting puppies and wants to know what to do now. So let's dive into it. Tell us a little bit about yourself. I believe you're in the UK. Not that it's important, but I don't think you're far from where my grandparents used to live in East Sussex. Is that correct?

Nigel Reed (02:18):

Yeah. Whereabouts are they?

Doggy Dan (02:20):

They were at Hadlow Down and yeah, I believe that's where you're based there.

Nigel Reed (02:24):

Yeah, not too far away at all. Interesting. Yeah. So about me, I studied dog behavior for 20 years. I was just so passionate about it from day one. I was one of these lucky people that got into your passion from an early age and moved to London from Cornwall where I'm from. Cornwall is a little bit like New Zealand. It's really kind of relaxed and calm and loads of beaches and a beautiful area, but not that much going on in winter, which I'm sure was the same in parts of New Zealand as well. So I moved to London when I was 30 to do dog training full time and yeah, haven't looked back.

Doggy Dan (03:02):

Beautiful. So tell us a little bit about your training approach. I believe it's very similar to my own, which is why I'm so excited to chat to you so we can go into depth regarding how you work with a dog. So tell us a little bit about that.

Nigel Reed (03:18):

Yeah. So dog training, even the word training, I think when you use the word training, you lose your emotional intelligence because you're trying to think, how can I teach a dog a response? And rather when you're with your children, whatever, you're always trying to figure out the need behind a behavior. You're trying to use your emotional intelligence to tap into your child's psychology in order to fulfill the need. And why shouldn't dog training be the same? So with what you and I do, we're always going, “Okay, where does that behavior come from? What is that need?” And then we fulfill that need rather than just silence the dog through either a purely positive method or a purely negative method. What we both do as well is positive and it's negative at times, but it's never shouting or hurting or intimidating, but most importantly it's meeting that need.

Nigel Reed (04:10):

And I remember seeing a lady on television where a dog barked at the door and the dog barks at the door and I'm thinking, okay, the the dog barks at the door because he's got a security need, he's got a lack of confidence in what you should be doing, and he's got a lack of confidence in his owner as the protector. But in this scenario, the dog trainer asked everybody to come through the door and give the dog a treat. Now the dog then got confident with people coming through the door, like a Pavlovian conditioning technique, but that dog was no more confident in what it should be doing and no more confident in the owner as it's leader because it still believed it should run up and deal with it's issues, but it just was now confident with people coming through the door. And it just fascinates me that there's so many different methods out there and I think they miss, so many miss a trick because they don't think first what is the dog's need?

Doggy Dan (05:01):

Wow, so much stuff I could hook into that. It's so true. You've just summed up exactly how I feel and I'm why I love what I do. And yeah, I'm so excited to have you on the podcast because I'm thinking, “Yep, it all makes so much sense.” One of the things you touched on there is going below kind of a little bit deeper with our dogs. That, why is the dog doing what it's doing? Rather than, like you said, just telling the dog to shut up or get it to be quiet. Can you talk into that a little bit more?

Nigel Reed (05:34):

Yeah. So when it comes to the dog's needs, like a child, if your child's crying and it's a baby, you start figuring out which need it is. And usually it's a physiological need. So do they need changing? Do they need food? Do they need sleep? Do they need burping? When a dog's misbehaving as well, we've got a checklist of needs that we can go through. So let's say the dog's barking and we go, “Okay, is that a physiological need? Is it hungry? Does it need to go to the toilet? Is it a security need? Or is it a dog trying to get attention?” And if you don't figure out the need, it wants to go to toilet, but you're thinking it's just trying to get attention, you ignore the dog, then obviously it's going to go to toilet and then toilet on the floor, which isn't going to be good.

Nigel Reed (06:16):

Or if the dog's toileting because there's actually a security need and you just ignore it, then the dog doesn't feel safe with you. Whereas when it comes to a child, you have the English language or any other language you communicate to your child and you can obviously talk it through and get the need out. With a dog you can't, so you have to have an educated guess of what the need is and then go and fulfill it. So I think it's such a beautiful way of looking at things. It's really holistic and it doesn't just address the symptoms of issues. It addresses the disease. And that should be the starting point. And I honestly feel if we all started with what are the dog's needs, our methods wouldn't differ so much, but I'm sure your listeners go, “God, which way do we turn?” Each person's got so many different ideas that all say the other person's wrong. Can we all agree that if we figure out the need behind the behavior, that's the first place to start?

Doggy Dan (07:10):

Yup, I totally agree with what you're saying. And I'll be honest, it breaks my heart sometimes because so many dog trainers out there don't seem to really care what the dog truly needs. They just want to stop the problem that the person's got the human. So like you said, dog's barking. How do we stop the dog barking? Now, I think as you touched on it, how do you stop the dog barking when you can just shove food in his mouth so he starts eating? But underlying that, you're saying there's another need that the dog could still be scared about something.

Nigel Reed (07:43):

Yeah, I think you got spray collars, shock collars, distraction control, tarring problem behavior out. And again, they're all addressing the symptoms, the barking. It's like where does that barking come from? Should be so obvious by now, but the dog world is very political as well. So nobody wants to really admit they're wrong. And yeah, like I say, if we all start with needs and all think that, then we can all start having the emotional intelligence to figure out what's going on. And emotion intelligence is in two categories, interpersonal intelligence, which is understanding others and in this case, the dog, and intrapersonal intelligence, understanding ourselves.

Nigel Reed (08:22):

And when I started “training” dogs, when I started working with dogs, I had this lesson in emotional awareness because I really started figuring out what was with the dog and what's with his needs. And then that kind of transferred in my relationships with people. I just started listening more. I started observing more things and really trying to figure out why people were angry. And even my wife, for example. Sometimes she's like having a go at me like, “Why have you not to put the toilet seat?” And straight away, I'll say, “What's the real problem, sweetie?” Because usually that's not what winds her up. It's normally a knock on effect of quite a few things. And like I say, when you can actually figure out what's wrong with my wife or what's wrong with my dog or what's wrong with my child, you can then have more of a productive relationship.

Doggy Dan (09:10):

Yeah, that's so true. And of course I want to throw in there “and what's wrong with me?” Sometimes I've realized it helps me do the, I think you called it the looking at ourselves.

Nigel Reed (09:21):

Intrapersonal. Yeah.

Doggy Dan (09:22):

And going, “Why am I so triggered with this thing?”

Nigel Reed (09:25):


Doggy Dan (09:26):

And I can look at myself and go, “Ah.” I often say to people in consults, “Your dog's not perfect and you're not perfect and my wife is not perfect.” And I usually finish with, “And I'm not perfect.” And yeah, I love it. I love it. Really, really, really fascinating stuff. You talk about the disease. Can you talk about the disease that you mentioned earlier? I find that fascinating.

Nigel Reed (09:54):

Well, I've kind of boiled down that all problem behavior, bar health, comes from a lack of confidence of one, two, or three areas. And they are a lack of confidence either in the owners as the decision-makers, the needs providers, a lack of confidence in the dog's environment, and/or a lack of confidence in what they should be doing. Now, if you look at it like that, all problem behavior comes from that, bar health. So what we should be thinking every day is how can we boost the dog's confidence in us as leaders in their environment, what they should be doing? Because if a dog had 10 out of 10 confidence in us as leaders in their environment and what they should be doing, they'll have zero behavior problems. But this isn't what we do. Like I say, we distract things, control, tire it out, but we don't go actually, how can I boost the confidence in you as a leader?

Nigel Reed (10:43):

So if my dog feels unsafe about something like I could boost his confidence in his environment with the example I gave you by getting people to come through the door and give the dog a treat and the dog can go, “Do you know what? People coming through the door is amazing. I love it. Why did I ever hate it? They're great. They will give me treats.” But like I say, the dog's no more confident in what it should be doing because it's still running to the door to see people. And he's still no more confident in me as a leader because I'm hardly involved in this equation. So I'm thinking all the time, how can I holistically and simultaneously boost the dog's confidence in those three areas? Because if all problem behavior comes from a lack of confidence in those three areas and I try to boost the dog's confidence in those three areas, I will eventually address the disease.

Doggy Dan (11:25):

Brilliant. Love it. So can we take an example, maybe of a situation you've been in where you have been working maybe with a dog around the front door who was a bit aggressive or barky or not behaving. And could you talk people through a little bit about the way you work and what you did? I guess for those people who don't know the method, we haven't touched into it much, but we're obviously saying we don't use… I say we because I think I use a similar method, but you're saying you don't totally rely much on food treats and you don't tend to use shock collars or spray collars or anything like that. So what would your approach be around the front door with a barky dog? Is that…

Nigel Reed (12:08):

So everything's language based. So if our child was scared of the bogeyman in the cupboard, dad, what would you do?

Doggy Dan (12:16):

I'd probably show them there's no bogeyman and-

Nigel Reed (12:19):

Yeah, that's right. You open the cupboard door and you can show them, look, there's no bogeyman in there. But the dog training equivalent, a lot of the time it's collect treats and try to distract them from the problem. So anytime my dog's got a problem with anything, whatever he's worried at, I'll let them know first I acknowledge his concerns. And that obviously makes him feel validated because I'm like, “Yeah, I understand you're upset,” but then I'll go and show him whatever he's barking at, that I'll go and deal with it. And that will boost his confidence in me as his leader. Somebody who can hear him, acknowledge his problems and then do something about it. Then he might try and get in between me and the door or he might try and bark. He tries to get in between me or he tries to bark is the same thing. He's trying to take over in which case I'll move him back, which will give him more confidence in what he should be doing by being behind me. I'm leader. And then over time as he calms, he'll then get more confidence in his environment.

Nigel Reed (13:15):

So with those three areas, I've just managed to tick them all three of them off. We've just one, well, a couple of simple movements by getting him front, claiming whatever he's worried about. He tries to get involved. I move him back or put him in timeout if he's too stressed, and then yeah, keep showing him again and again until he's got it. And then the way I look at dog training, and I think we should all look at it, it's like emotional Jenga. And we've got to start at the beginning and start building those blocks. And I think a lot of the time people aren't building those blocks very securely. They've got all these holes missing in them. And that's the idea of Jenga. You take pieces out and you put it on the top adding to more stress and weaker foundations.

Nigel Reed (13:58):

And think of it like this way. If you've got a dog that's got a problem with picnics, work backwards and say, well, have I got the foundations in here? Does the dog pester me with food when I'm sitting eating on the couch? And if no, well, does the dog pester me with food when I'm sitting on the floor eating food? If the answer is no, well, what would the dog be like if I was sat around with friends on the floor eating food? And then ask yourself, does your dog walk nicely on a loose lead? And then does your dog come back to you when you call them? And if you've got all those foundations in, there's not very much chance your dog is going to go and run over and start getting in people's picnics.

Nigel Reed (14:37):

But there's five kind of building blocks we can do before we even take a dog out and have them near picnics, but people don't do that. I think that their most important thing rather than build this emotional Jenga is exercise. And they go, “Our dog needs exercise.” And it blows out all reason because you stop thinking holistically and you just start thinking, we're very one kind of single track mind. This is what we need to achieve. But even if I asked you out for a drink, you'd be thinking, okay, how much is it going to cost me? What's my wife doing? How far have I got to travel? What am I doing tomorrow morning? And that's just going for a drink. That's like four variables. So when you're taking your dog out for a walk or in any scenario, we've got to think of every variable. We've got to be thinking, okay, are the weather conditions right? Is my dog okay with dangers? Is my dog understanding that I'm in charge? And when you put all those blocks together, then you get a better result.

Doggy Dan (15:33):

Wow, brilliant. So going back to the lack of confidence that the owners have, the environment and the dog knowing what to do, how does that apply to, can you give us an example maybe of a time when you've worked with a dog? Let's think of a problem. Dog aggression. Why not? Let's go for dog aggression. So a dog that was maybe aggressive to another dog inside the house, like two dogs. Have you worked with dogs fighting together, I presume you have, working together in the house?

Nigel Reed (16:09):


Doggy Dan (16:10):

Or dogs out on the street. It doesn't matter, but dog aggression. How would you approach, for those people listening? I guess I'm asking you kind of an overview of this method. How do you approach it? Do you take the dogs to your house or do you work with people or does that not matter? What's going on?

Nigel Reed (16:25):

Yeah, I can never boost a dog's confidence in the owners as their leaders unless I teach the owners what to do. But sometimes the dog is in a serious situation and the owner is in a serious situation and they haven't got the time or resources to do it. So it is a service I do every now and then. I've got a whole series on YouTube where I take someone's dog on, actually, an aggressive dog. And what I'm trying to do is show the dog that I'm leader. Now, if the dog has got a problem with other dogs, he's got a lack of confidence in someone who's going to protect him, he's got a lack of confidence in his environment with other dogs, therefore he's got a lack of confidence in what he should be doing. So he may be barking and lunging at dogs when he's out.

Nigel Reed (17:06):

Now, when a dog feels unsafe, it's got a defense response of flight, freeze, or fight. However, flight, freeze, and fight is very nuanced. So flight, running away, we all see that, but then you've got dogs that walk away or turn their heads. And we don't often see that. And because we don't see the subtleties of it, it gets to the more traumatics. Then you've got freeze, but you've got three types of freeze. You got a submissive freeze where a dog will rollover, get on its back, for example. Then you've got an assertive freeze where a dog will go up to the situation. And people never call me for a submissive freeze. They never call me for assertive freeze, but when it gets to an aggressive freeze where they're lunging and barking, or it goes to fight, that's when they're calling me.

Nigel Reed (17:47):

But what we've got to do is we've got to understand the prelude in the middle. So the walking away, the turning in their head, the submissive or the assertive. So I'm on that straight away. It's easier to be on the aggressive freeze and fight and flight because it's so clear, but if you don't address these things early on, it develops into more traumatics. So once it's developed to the traumatics, the dog is then choosing flight, freeze, or fight itself. And usually it's not subtle by this time. Well, to show the dog that I'll provide for its security needs, I'm leader, boost his confidence in me as a leader, if he's choosing flight, freeze, or fight, then he's provided for his safety needs. So therefore I choose flight, freeze, or fight for the dog. Obviously I don't fight, but I will be choosing flight or free. So my dog is reactive. I'm more reactive than he is. I react quicker. And then once I've reacted for him X amount of times at a distance that dog feels comfortable at, then eventually he starts giving me that job.

Nigel Reed (18:42):

And once he gives me that job, I then get closer and closer and closer over time. Sometimes I get too close and he panics. And as soon as he starts panicking, he takes over. And as soon as he takes over again, I take over again immediately and I judge the distance. So as I'm trying to boost the dog's confidence in his environment, I start off from far away from whatever the threat is and then I get closer and closer and closer over time. And every time the dog tries to get involved or tries to choose flight or freeze, I choose flight or freeze for them.

Nigel Reed (19:08):

So by choosing flight, freeze, or fight, I’m providing for my dog's safety needs, I'm then boosting my dog's confidence that I'm it's leader. By studying from far away from the environment, I'm boosting the dog's confidence in its environment and then I get closer, closer, closer, over time as it gets more confident. And as soon as the dog tries to take control and I take control back, I get the dog more confident in what they should be doing. So I keep ticking all of those three areas simultaneously.

Doggy Dan (19:34):

So a lot of this from what you're saying is about remaining the one that's making the decisions and kind of guiding the dog. Is that a fair summary?

Nigel Reed (19:45):

Yeah. And the decisions don't start, like I was saying, with the emotional Jenga analogy. It never starts off in the scenario you are. So I'm sure you'll agree with this. People don't call us for the problems that dogs have. People call us for the problems that dogs give them.

Doggy Dan (20:02):


Nigel Reed (20:02):

And as a result, they miss all the little things where they either label behavior as either good or bad, desirable or undesirable, but I'm never looking at behavior purely just as good or bad. I'm looking at what the motivations of the behavior are. So what's the motivations of a man staring in a shop window, well, he may be just looking at the stuff, or he may be scoping the place out to rob the place. Now the former example is no cause for concern, the latter one is.

Nigel Reed (20:31):

So when my dog is doing anything, I try and then figure out what need it’s trying to do. And even if the behavior looks acceptable, I go, no, no, I can see the motivation there. So then again, once you identify the motivations of behavior, you're so much further on in a process of understanding your dog than what you would be, if you just label behavior as good or bad, and then either address or don't address it.

Doggy Dan (20:54):

Yeah. I think that's a big, big point there that I often say to people, that as dog owners, we don't seem to recognize when our dogs are becoming stressed until they're so stressed, that they're actually over reactive. Talk about a scale of one to 10, where 10 is a dog in the red zone, stressed out, and one is a dog who's fast asleep.

Nigel Reed (21:15):

Yeah. I got to say the same thing. Yeah.

Doggy Dan (21:18):

And I say to people, you shouldn't really be moving past that kind of, if your dog's at level five, turn around and move the dog out of that situation. But people don't seem to realize until the dogs, what I would say is about an eight, they can't spot the signals that the dog is actually stressed. So yeah. I fully agree. We need to wind it back and. But a better understanding of the dog's behavior, and kind of leads me into can you give us an idea of the happy dog, what the happy dog looks like, maybe compared to the unwanted behaviors or the unwanted actions that people don't seem to be able to spot. Is that something you could share with us a little, do you know what I'm saying?

Nigel Reed (22:01):

Yeah. I'd say one of the mistakes people make a lot of the time is an assertive dog, which is actually standing up for itself slightly when it comes to play and it won't back off. I'm not always sure that's the happy dog. So that dog can look very similar in a scenario where it actually is happy. It's really hard to tell. But one needs to know a little bit of context in a situation. And I've seen so many dogs run up to the other dog and be a bit assertive over the dog and then get into play and then run and do the next one. And the person would say the word, I hate this word. It's always just saying, hello, and it's that word, just. And I think that we should never say that word in the dog world. It's never, just.

Nigel Reed (22:45):

So a happy dog really is a dog with no responsibilities. You go for a walk. The dog is walking on a loose lead. It stops when you stop. It speeds up when you speed up. And it turns when you turn. A happy dog is someone who's content in the environment, no matter what happens in the environment, be that fireworks start going off, or someone knocks on the door and the dog barks to alert you the decision maker, the security provider, and you go and deal with it. And they feel instantly reassured because you've proven to them so many times in the past that you're there and you've got their back.

Nigel Reed (23:21):

A happy dog is a dog that's calm and asleep. And it's not constantly trying to maneuver you all the time. We've got a program called Supernanny where children just don't stop moving and they're always on, and giving the parents commands and telling them what to do, and they're not happy underneath it all. And a dog is doing a version of that. So, yeah. That's why I would say a dog that eats all his food, a dog that understands you take care of danger, a dog that comes back when you call them, is relaxed on lead and plays with other dogs, and a dog that doesn't constantly try and pester or maneuver you.

Doggy Dan (23:55):

Yeah. I mean, you've touched into something big there with the Supernanny. I've actually written a book called What the Dogs Taught Me About Being a Parent.

Nigel Reed (24:02):

Oh, wow.

Doggy Dan (24:03):

Because there's so many similarities. I often think of poor little dogs, I say Chihuahuas, just because they do… I don’t know, I've seen more Chihuahuas who seem so stressed out, stuck in handbags, barking and squeaking, and I'm generalizing here, but there's a lot of little Chihuahuas, I've been to people's houses, they're racing up and down. They're barking out the windows, they're chasing their tails, they're constantly on the go. And because they're little Chihuahuas they get away with it, if it was a German Shepherd people would be like, there's something wrong with them.

Nigel Reed (24:34):

Yeah. 100%. At one point in my career, I can honestly say, I've never seen a happy Chihuahua. And I could say that for like 14 years, but then I did meet one. So I can't say it anymore.

Doggy Dan (24:47):

It breaks my heart. I hear you. I totally hear you.

Nigel Reed (24:50):

Yeah. It's bizarre. I mean, this is the thing, we put so much onus on breeds, but it's really… all the variables are the typical human behavior towards a certain breed. A Chihuahua growls… I remember a guy holding up a Chihuahua and he goes like, “What I want my Chihuahua to do is not bark when people go over and stroke him, not growl, can you sort that out?” I was like, “Nope. I can't sort that out. You've got to respect his personal space. He doesn’t like his space being [dis]respected”

Doggy Dan (25:17):

Exactly. Because the analogy there is almost saying, I want my child to be okay with anybody coming up to them in the street and just patting them on the head.

Nigel Reed (25:24):

That's it. 100%.

Doggy Dan (25:27):

They're not going to be, especially not if they're a confident child who goes, get off me. I don't like you, you smell. Or I don't like the look of you, or you're patting me too hard on the head.

Nigel Reed (25:35):

Yeah. That's when you just summed up my child, she's got no problem saying that.

Doggy Dan (25:40):

Yeah. So in a way a lot of it is almost… One thing I'd love to chat about is, there's a big misconception, I'd say, it's politically incorrect. Well, a lot of people feel it's politically incorrect to kind of talk about being the pack leader when you talk about your dog. People like to say it's more like being a parent, which I totally agree with. So what's your take on being the leader, being the decision maker? Do you run into problems with that terminology or not? Really, it's just a few. Is it more dog trainers who struggle with that?

Nigel Reed (26:17):

Yeah, I do. But no one's ever been able to prove me wrong. I mean, our arguments are one with evidence, logic and reason. And people say these very throwaway comments. And I've really looked into this subject to be honest with you.

Doggy Dan (26:34):

Oh, tell us more. I love this topic.

Nigel Reed (26:37):

Well, I'll put it out there now. Anybody who can disprove what I'm saying of pack leader theory, I'll give you 20,000 pounds. Here's a Doggy Dan exclusive. And what I'm saying is that pack leader theory it's been tainted by people who have used it as an excuse to dominate and hurt dogs, but that's throwing the baby out of the bath water.

Doggy Dan (27:06):


Nigel Reed (27:06):

So I'm making four general statements that, one, it's your job to fulfill your dog's needs. I'm sure you're with me at the moment, listeners. Second, if you do not fulfill your dog's needs, they will fulfill it themselves. Therefore that is a dog thinking it's either leading itself or leading you. There's actually a couple more statements, actually. Maybe third, if you don't communicate to your dog either, you're not fulfilling his needs. It will think it has to do itself. And I forget the fourth as well, but I'm sure you can't argue with these three statements, and you won't be able to argue with the other one either.

Nigel Reed (27:44):

And it's quite painful sometimes because I've actually lost work from it, because people have got, oh, he thinks that. And I think they get a bit confused with the language that I may advise more to the principle. The principle really is, you've got to show your dog that you provide food and you have power of the food. Well, do you have to eat first before your dog? Well, not necessarily. But if you eat before your dog, that is pretty bloody clear. Now the Queen of England eats first, after she's finished and puts a knife and fork down, everybody in the room, diplomats and presidents finish, she constantly shows power.

Doggy Dan (28:20):

Is that right, Nigel? Have you had a meal with the Queen? Sounds like you've got some inner knowledge.

Nigel Reed (28:26):

Well, I can't take a first-hand story at it, but I certainly know people that have.

Doggy Dan (28:32):

Yeah, no, no, I totally hear you.

Nigel Reed (28:34):

And then another principle is that, we've got to show our dogs that we take care of dangers. We've got to show our dogs that we decide when things happen. We got to show our dogs that we lead the walk. And I could say the same with kids, we have power over food, but children would try to take the power of food away from you. “Dad, I don't want that.” They'll try and debate their physiological needs. “I want to go to bed at that time.” They might try and provide for their own security needs. They might try and cross roads. You'd be like, “No, no, no, you listen to me.” They might try and dictate when things happen. So as you've written this book, you know the crossover, dogs and the wolf analogy is so similar to the children analogy. And every principle I make a comparison within the wild, with wolves. I can make the same comparison with people.

Doggy Dan (29:25):

Yes. 100%.

Nigel Reed (29:29):

It's hard to refute, but I think that people get one idea in their head, and it often depends on where you fit on the political spectrum as well. So I think dog training has gone from the far right now to the far left, and the far right is like pinning dogs down and hurting them, in the far left, you're just pandering to everything and treating them all the time and treating the symptoms, not the disease with stuff. And I feel like we're right in the middle of it, we go like, what's your need? I'll provide for your needs. Listen to me, I'm in charge. And I don't think that's a controversial subject at all, but welcome to 2022 (whatever we’re in) and everything's controversial. Yes, I've had some people commenting, but they've never really managed to come back with any of my questions that I've asked.

Doggy Dan (30:17):

Yeah. I think a lot of it does come down to the words that people use.

Nigel Reed (30:21):

The terminology is huge.

Doggy Dan (30:23):

People get triggered by the word leader, because they've maybe never had a loving leader. I often say a good leader is the one who looks after you and cares for you and your needs.

Nigel Reed (30:34):

Yeah. I mean, it just shouldn't be a controversial word. I remember one person saying, “Well, you don't have to be a pack leader to your dog. You don't have to be a leader to your dog.” And I go, “What do you mean? You don't have to show your dog that you lead the walk, or you take care of danger?” They were like, “Well, I didn't mean it like that. But you don't have to be pack leader.” And I was like, “What's difference? Pack's another word for family and the world.”

Nigel Reed (30:52):

So again, it's the terminology which people get so wound up by. And I think trying to look at people's intentions with things as well, you'll never find me hugging or shouting or intimidating a dog, you'll always find me trying to make a dog's behavior better, but sometimes people can vilify so much and put us in separate boxes. And I think that there's things I could learn from other dog training methods.

Doggy Dan (31:17):

Totally. Well, I've learned a lot from you already, to be honest. It's great, I’ve enjoyed it. Yeah. So one of the things I've got to touch on is you mentioned the family and you mentioned the wolves, and something I love is that crossover, that if you actually look, and I know dogs are not wolves, but dogs can breed with wolves, and they do operate in a similar way and they fit into our families, and they can fit into the Wolf pack. And I think one of the reasons is, and I'd love you to touch on this if you can, because I think you know a bit about wolves, is how similar the wolf pack seems to be with a family setup, that there's leaders, there's followers, there's the same basic needs and people are taking care of each other. And people think the wolves are all aggressive and they're not, as I understand it.

Nigel Reed (32:00):

Yeah, that's right. I mean, there's obviously differences and there's obviously similarities. And what we've done is we've looked at the similarities and got rid of the differences. So, I remember one person trying to kind of discount what I was saying, but by saying that feral dogs don't form organized packs. And as they don't form organized packs, this means you're talking rubbish, because why are you comparing it to wolves when we know that dogs in the wild don't form organized packs, and they're more closely related, obviously a feral dog to a dog. And I was like, “Okay, what's the lifespan of a feral dog then?” And the fact is that feral dog's lifespan is about one or two years.

Nigel Reed (32:39):

So that's not evidence to say that what we're saying is untrue. That's evidence to say that if you don't follow an organized pack, a kind of pyramid structure, where you have two in charge, making the decisions, and looking after the youngers, it's detrimental, it's like looking at lord of the flies and going “see those children don't form an organized pack. Therefore, what you're talking about is rubbish”, and I was like, yeah, but let's look at organized thick packs and do it well and learn from that. And I think we can learn so much from nature. There's a quote I use in my book from Einstein, the deeper you look into nature, the more you understand about everything.

Doggy Dan (33:17):

Oh, beautiful.

Nigel Reed (33:21):

And there's so many studies of dog behavior. And anthropology is obviously the study of human behavior and what it's changed. I want to write a book called Canidology, and write everything that's happened, from the wolf, from the dog, and how people have changed as well. So Canidology would be anthropology for people and the dog stuff mixed in, and kind of changed, showing how we've changed. I mean, we've gone from like what our grandparents would have done, of like, you know, not making the dog the most important member of the household of fussing and pandering it and giving it treats all the time, and then shouting if it does something wrong. My grandparent's dog was so well-behaved, and my grandparents were mildly aloof with it as well. And I'm sure in New Zealand you might be a bit closer to that as well, because in England we've gone terrible.

Nigel Reed (34:10):

And just here's a case in point of how much we changed. I got a message from a person on Instagram pretending to be a dog. And they're like, “Hello, my hooman needs help. He can't help it. I'm really naughty. I can't help it. Please help my hooman sort me out.” And I was like, “What the bloody hell is wrong with you?” And I didn't know how to respond to it. I was like, “Could you get your owner to give me a call?” And it's like, how have we come from like slightly aloof it's a dog to like pretending to be a dog. And it's just such a disparity in change. And we've changed. Humans have changed so much.

Doggy Dan (34:51):

Look, Nigel, if people who listen to my podcast regularly will have heard this story, but this is more for you just to summarize what you're saying. I had a lady ring me once. She said that she had this problem, that the dog was barking at night. And she said it sleeps in the bed with them and sleeps on her husband's head. And she was telling me how the dog barks all the time and she's got a problem. They've done everything they can. And I just stopped. And I said, “I'm going to be honest with this woman on the phone.” I said, “You know what the real problem is?” She said, “No.” I said, “The real problem is your husband has a dog on his head.” She went, “What do you mean? What do you mean?” I thought it was only a small dog, but can you imagine if it was a German Shepard. I mean, it's just ridiculous.

Nigel Reed (35:35):

That's crazy, isn't it?

Doggy Dan (35:36):

Yeah. So I think in summary, can you give us a summary before we wrap this up? What's really going wrong with the dogs and the dog training, and how does your method kind of work to sort it out?

Nigel Reed (35:50):

I think whether it's our relationships with people, whether it's our lack of exercise, whether it's our diet, we've done so much for convenience and we've missed the general principle rules that have been around for millions of years, like a village to bring up a child, let's have communities, you know how social media spoils things, how in breeding dogs too much affects things, how commercial diets can screw things up, how quick fix solutions don't really get to the problem.

Nigel Reed (36:21):

And really, we've got to understand that they're dogs, they're important members of our family. And we've got to spend the time with our dogs, the time with our children, and get that emotional intelligence back where we're not just doing everything for a quick fix, but we're really trying to get to know the dog, and get to know the root of the problem, and do what's right for the dog before we start really appeasing what our needs are as well.

Nigel Reed (36:48):

And I think if everybody starts thinking about the dog as an animal that needs to be respected and the diet needs to be right, and we need to communicate to it properly, and we need to figure out what it really needs, and have that insight into really wanting to do a good job, we can't go too wrong. But if we just get a dog because the kids want one, and we'll get this breed, and we'll do that, and we'll get a dog walker, you've missed the mark so badly. And that's terrible. That happens in London all the time. So it's really about just understanding those principles of what we all need for life, healthy food, healthy lifestyles, friends, family, meet our needs and get the dog's needs met simultaneously.

Doggy Dan (37:33):

And for people who are listening to this and thinking, “Yep, I love it. Where can I find out more?” Where can they find out more about that stuff you've mentioned, and more about yourself and your training programs, the online ones and in-person

Nigel Reed (37:45):

Oh, so I've got a website called I've got a YouTube channel called “Nigel Reed”, my name. I've got book called The Dog Guardian. I've got loads of videos on YouTube. So I would start by saying, look at the videos on YouTube, see if it makes sense. And I've also got online courses and all other bits and bobs, and if it makes sense, yep. Get in contact with either me or Dan.

Doggy Dan (38:10):

Yep. And I'll put all of this on my website, and it'll be under the URL,, which is N-I-G-E-L, as Nigel, and Reed, correct me if I'm wrong, but it's R-E-E-D.

Nigel Reed (38:26):

That's right.

Doggy Dan (38:27):

So guys, if you want any of those links that Nigel has mentioned, if you can't remember them, then you can go to the And then you'll be able to find his website, his links, his YouTube channel, all of that stuff. Brilliant. Nigel, I have one thing to say and it's that, I think you should definitely write that book, even if it's not a big, huge, monstrous book. I think it needs to get out there. There's a real need for that. Yeah.

Nigel Reed (38:55):

Yes. Thank you. Yeah, it can't be too long, but yeah. Canidology. Watch out for it.

Doggy Dan (39:04):

Yeah. And touching into all those different topics and people, and you could even have links to different places where they could find out more. I'm just coming up with ideas here, because that's who I be. But I just think, yeah, there's a need for it. There's so many areas where we've gone so wrong. And sometimes when you highlight all of them, you go, wow, we really have gone off track a bit here. So I appreciate you coming on today and sharing all your knowledge and all the depth of knowledge. It's been fantastic, and I really appreciate it. So thank you, Nigel. It's been wonderful having you on the podcast show today.

Nigel Reed (39:37):

Thanks for having me. And thank you to all of you who have made it this far, for listening.

Doggy Dan (39:42):

Yeah. Appreciate it. All right, listeners, thank you. And as always love your dog.

Voiceover (39:50):

You've been listening to another episode of The Doggy Dan Podcast Show, bringing you one step closer to creating harmony with your dog.

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Doggy Dan

Doggy Dan is the founder of The Online Dog Trainer, a wildly successful online training program for dog owners. His goal is to continue to share his unique approach to dog training with like-minded people who wish to make a difference in the world of dogs. His training methods focus on creating and building the connection between dogs and dog owners, and are shared and used around the world.

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