Yeah, I know that doesn’t sound good.

What right do I have to make snap judgements about someone innocently walking their dog through the neighborhood?  They’re just getting some exercise, or bonding with their pet, or making a potty run.  Whatever it is, it’s just a walk, right?

Except I already know…I’m gonna judge.

Is your dog four feet in front of you, pulling you down the street?  Your dog thinks he’s in charge. He’s the alpha – you’re just following his lead.  You might as well hand over the remote and resign yourself to a steady stream of Animal Planet.  You could be a couple of walks away from being kicked out of your own bed.

Is your dog on a five foot leash, meandering into the grass, sniffing at every mailbox and flower bed?  Your dog thinks he’s in charge.  He’s calling the shots, moving when he pleases, stopping when he feels like it.  You’re just the patsy picking up poop.

Is your dog on a short leash?  Walking beside you, head up and alert?  Your dog knows you’re the alpha.  He’s following your lead, wherever you go.  As far as he’s concerned you hung the moon.

Is your dog on a five foot leash but still walking right beside you?  A slack leash dangles as you walk down the road.  He stops when you tell him then loyally remains by your side on your journey.  You are an awesome alpha.

Is your dog walking off leash beside you?  Keeping pace with you, fully focused, immune to distractions like the scent of other dogs or distant barking?  You are the über alpha.  I bow down in homage to your pack leader skills and dream of a day when I might reach this level.

See?  Told you I judge based on the dog walk.

ps – I’ve seen an über alpha in action.  I call her the frisbee dog lady.  She walks a black lab, often off leash, who always stays right by her side.  She carries one of those floppy disc frisbees, and when the two of them reach an empty lot she’ll send it soaring into the air.  Her lab recognizes the cue and bounds after it, gleefully retrieving it for his owner.  Now that’s one happy dog.