Does Your Dog Respect You?

To Gain Your Dog’s Respect You Have to Be a Pack Leader

Many of us have heard the old pop song that goes something like “R.E.S.P.E.C.T., find out what it means to me…”

Respect is important. Another popular idiom goes “Will you respect me in the morning?” But we won’t go into that.

What’s important is, does your own dog respect you? Dogs are highly intelligent animals, and if you treat your dog like too much of a lesser being, you could have behavioral problems.

You should treat your dog like you yourself would want to be treated. Dogs are pack animals. They thrive (a little like children) on rules, humane ones, consistency and expectations. You as the dog’s owner are to your dog, the pack leader. This may be your only chance for a leadership role in your life. So don’t blow it.

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You lead with fairness and an even hand.

Rule Number One – Never try to force leadership by being physically menacing with your dog. The dog will automatically react with fear and defense. What would you do if someone came at you with a clenched fist? Say, go ahead and hit me? Probably not.

Leadership is not about forcing your dog to obey. And for god’s sake, let’s say it now, NEVER. BUT NEVER HIT YOUR DOG! You may be tempted to by something the dog has done. But it’s the quickest way to lose respect. The dog will say to himself this guy’s a jerk. I’m not going to listen to anything he says.

If you have hit your dog because you lost your temper and self-control and you have a conscience and feel bad about it, you might try to buy off the dog’s renewed friendship with a bald face out-and-out bribe. Give him a bone and stroke gently his forehead and tell him how wonderful he is. He may forgive you, but don’t expect him to forget right away. Remember, dogs are highly intelligent, sometimes more perceptive than people.

Leadership of your dog is basically about controlling the things your dog wants, clean and adequate bedding, food, attention, toys, and playful interaction and access to the outdoors and other dogs. All these needs need to be met if you want a well-behaved, well-adjusted pet. Neglect them, and you can have a schizoid psychopath canine on your hands.

For example, let’s concoct a fictional scenario. I know you wouldn’t be like this. You have a large dog that you coop up in a small apartment all day while you’re at work, with no living things for social interaction. You come home and scream at the dog for chewing things up because the dog is stressed because the dog has nothing else to do all day. You never take the dog out except to poop, never play with the dog or give him a job of some kind to do so he can feel useful. The dog has learned that you’re a disconnected, erratic, neglectful, ignorant simpleton. The least you can do in this case is turn the TV on and let the dog watch The Animal Channel so he can see another dog and fantasize about a real pack leader, because you’re not it.

But you’re not like that, right?

Remember again, dogs are somewhat like children. You have to interact with them.

Instead, you make your dog feel like a valued member of your pack by teaching the dog a job, for example, to sit and stay before being released to run to the door if someone knocks. Or, you teach the dog to stay off your furniture or the bed. Or, you teach the dog to sit patiently at the sight of the leash before you take him out for a well-deserved walk.

You will reward this successful behavior with praise and treats.

I will discuss how to teach a dog to sit and perform other commands in the next installment.

DISCLAIMER: The information on this site is not intended to replace the advice of your own veterinarian or doctor. Should you think that your pet needs medical attention, please contact your local veterinarian.  
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