I am in line with you, Amaruq. I have been trying to strike the word from my vocabulary and instead use leader. My animals are my major companions, especially Rafi. I don't think of him as lower to me in rank. We treat one another with respect and we have earned one another's respect. He doesn't bite too hard when trying to get a toy from me and I don't yell at him unless his life is in danger.
My first dog was a very hard dog and I was very young and had no dog experience. I overdid the alpha stuff. It didn't phase her but when Chama came along it was clear that I had to change my style to work with her. Massie was an amazing dog but Chama was so easy to train because I changed my style. Now I've changed it even more to focus on rewarding the positive and ignoring the negative, unless it's a serious problem.
It's been 22 years now since I adopted Massie and my leadership style runs something like this:
The dogs know exactly what's expected of them. They have basic rules they are expected to follow in the house, in the yard and on walks and in the truck. They know they can count on a certain amount of exercise every day in addition to all their other necessities. They look to me for leadership. I believe it is my job to protect them and to make major decisions for them.
They are not allowed on the furniture but that is a hair issue for me and not a pack issue. I do allow Rafi up on the couch in my study.
I don't think it matters when they eat and when I eat. In fact, I always feed them before I eat. This has not caused any sort of coup in my house.
I also don't think it matters who goes through the doorway first although Rafi is trained to let Chama and Cleo go through first so that he doesn't knock them down.
He is also trained to wait until released to go out a door. This is so that he doesn't bolt out.
Corrections, when necessary, are issued with my voice. That's it. I say something (Eh-eh!) and they stop. Period. If necessary I will use my body to block or stomp or step in between. I almost never need to do this.
Btw, my dogs are extremely well behaved. People comment every day on them. But I do very little training beyond the basics and following the fair and respectful leader model.