Is your dog chewing your sofa or lunging at you when you arrive home? Dogs are hierarchical animals. When they sense that a certain being is dominant, they will consider it as the leader of the pack. In a domesticated setting, you have to be that alpha. Knowing how to make your dog respect you isn’t really a difficult task. There are only a few dogs born with the inclination to be the one in charge of the pack. What you have to do is make that cute doggo realize that there are boundaries he has to follow.
The problem about teaching dogs is that the owners contribute to the vicious cycle. Keep in mind that dogs will naturally push your limits if you don’t discipline them. Dogs are pretty much like toddlers. If you don’t provide a punishment for a wrongdoing, they will keep repeating it over and over again.
So the umbrella solution here is discipline and letting them know of the boundaries.
How to make your dog respect you
It all begins with trust, as dog behaviorist Cesar Millan says. Shouting and being angry when the doggo commits a mistake only pushes him away from you. Being calm and assertive will allow the dog to realize that you’re not the enemy here.
Imagine a pack of doggos. If one dog starts barking aggressively, there’s a chance that no other dog will come close. The doggos know that the hostile dog is the enemy and has not to be followed. But if one pooch is calm and confident, other hounds will be following him. In this example, you’d want to be the calm pooch and not the aggressive one.
Take note that this is just the start of the “respect training”. Once you know how to maintain a calm stance when your dog crosses the line, you can now proceed with these 12 steps.
1. Give the dog some time
If you’d just brought your new dog home, don’t expect him to be very affectionate and loving right away. For sure, the doggo is still adjusting to the environment and the hooman around him. Slow your roll, as they say. You’re not doing anything wrong if the dog doesn’t want to obey on the third day. Teaching your dog respect is a process and it’s not something you should force if the pooch isn’t ready yet.
Dogs are dubbed as man’s best friends, but like humans, it takes time for them to build trust and to love their new owner. Having a strong bond with your pet will take months or even years for some. At this point, the least you can do is be patient and provide him with his needs. Once the dog notices your kindness, he will start to yield.
2. Don’t let him pull the leash
Just because your dog is the one on the leash doesn’t mean you’re always in command. On your next walk, check who’s in control. Are you the one leading, or is your dog dragging you with the leash? If the latter is happening, it means that your dog is having the upper hand. This isn’t a good sign if you want to be the leader of the pack.
When the dog leads the walking, it will reflect on all the aspects of your relationship with him. The trick here is to stop on street corners and ask him to sit. It will take a few tries before the doggo obeys but this would be part of the training. If the pooch starts walking without your permission, say “no” in a firm but not shouting manner.
3. Know the difference between firm and terrifying
One mistake a lot of dog owners commit is being terrifying than firm. Remember our example earlier about a pack of dogs? If you shout and react with rage, you start to be the aggressive dog. Dog owners think that shouting instills discipline. But it’s actually the other way around. In the wild, the mother dog will hug their pup through their necks. If the pup misbehaves, he will be released from the protective cuddle. The mother doesn’t bite nor snarl.
Be calm but firm at the same time. This might be a bit confusing, but it’s just the way of being assertive without having to shout or be violent. If your dog keeps on violating your rules, put him on a leash or don’t let him sit on the couch with you.
4. Let him earn his keep
Don’t give the much-adored petting all the time. Let your dog earn it by following commands or respecting boundaries. If he’s becoming too bossy or asking for too much attention, don’t have eye contact with the doggo. As days go by, he will realize that he can’t always get his way around.
When it comes to snacks or treats, give it once he’s done a “good boy” thing. It’s like earning a paycheck to get food, much like us humans who work for our sustenance.
By working for everything he gets, your dog will know that you’re not a push-over. It’s part of being firm and stopping him from leading you to do things. If he keeps on scratching your leg for a pet, say a strong “no”. This would be a repetitive process, but you it’s a way on how to make your dog respect you.
5. Be in control of the feeding
There’s nothing wrong if you prefer your dog to have his meals on the same table as yours. But if you have a new doggo who needs to learn some lessons, you should be strict about the feeding setup. Always take the first bite, no matter if it’s a full meal or a snack. What’s more important is to teach him to wait before chomping on his feeding dish. A lot of dogs would start nibbling violently on the bowl as you put the food on it. This is lack of respect and discipline.
Don’t let your dog eat unless you invite him too. Put the food on the bowl and train him to wait until you say so. It’s not like you’re punishing your pooch, you’re just instilling the sense of distance and patience.
6. Be the parent, not a sibling
Remember, you are the parent, you’re not a co-equal sibling. This should manifest in your daily routines if you want your dog to respect you. When he is lying in front of the door, get him to move away out the spot. Don’t walk past him since this will deliver a message that he’s the one gaining the respect and not the other way around.
Shuffle your feet or ask him to move verbally. Make your dominance be seen at all times so your dog will see you as a parent and not just a playmate who gives free hugs. The alpha never adjusts to his littermates; it’s the other way around.
Don’t get this wrong, though. Asserting your dominance doesn’t give you the right to hurt or abuse your dog. One way of knowing how to make your dog respect you is by respecting his rights as well.
7. Let him work for his toys
Like how you control the feeding, you should have the superiority when it comes to the dog’s source of entertainment. Take out about two toys a day and let him “unlock” it by following orders. Alternate the toys so you can keep the enthusiasm of your pup. At night, pick the toys and put it away again. Make sure that your doggo is seeing this so he knows that you’re the one in authority. If he tries to linger on a toy, remove it still and don’t show it up for a day or two. This will make the doggo realize that his actions have consequences.
Also, initiate play and set the rules. You can stop whenever you want and the doggo has to wait until you continue. If he seems to lose attention from what you’re saying, walk away and stop the play.
8. Don’t let him sit on top of you
This part will gather varying opinions. Some dog owners love the idea that their dogs join them on the couch by sitting on their stomach. Although some disciplinary factors are at play here, it’s better to stay clear of this practice until the pooch learns to respect you.
This stems from the basic concept of hierarchy dogs have. An alpha never let other members of the pack sit on top of them unless it’s an act of a mutual play. You can use this concept as a guide too. Cuddling with your dog on the couch is totally fine since it develops your bond with each other. Just be observant for the signs that he might be going overboard.
9. Help him adjust to restraint
If you have a new doggo, make sure that you’re the one to bathe and groom him. Also, pet him on the ears, touch his paw, and give him gentle hugs when he follows your commands. Such physical acts will familiarize your dog with your body and will help him adjust to restraint.
However, take note that there are “least affectionate” dogs who don’t like being hugged. Shiba inus, terriers, and chow chows may not like constant hugs, especially from strangers. It doesn’t mean that your doggo doesn’t love you. It just happens that he’s not used to that kind of stimulation.
Anyway, you can get everything in knowing how to make your dog respect you and understanding your pet’s innate behavior. Some rude actions from pooches aren’t always a sign of disrespect. It might be their nature in the works.
10. Stop playful bites
So your dog started to follow your orders until he became too excited at play time. If your dog starts to playfully bite you or starts showing his teeth, let out a firm “no”. After that, stop playing and don’t give him the usual attention for at least a few hours. Don’t pet him, don’t look at him, and don’t talk to him. Your doggy has to learn that such threatening behavior is uncalled for.
If you don’t correct this right away, he might think that he has the freedom to bite anyone who acts differently than what he wants. If he couldn’t stop biting you, more so the other people who will be visiting your house.
11. Play control games
Maximize your play time with control games like fetching, keep away, and tugging. Ask him to stop when you want to and don’t let him reign over. Set your rules and let it be known that you’re not happy by walking away or stopping play time when he misbehaves. It’s some kind of tough love that will teach him to be a good boy in the future so you don’t have to feel guilty about it.
Also, make sure that he has his own territory. Set up his dog house and don’t play with him there. He will soon realize that such a spot is his territory and the rest is yours. As you see, you also have to respect your doggo’s space.
12. Don’t let him in unless invited
Is he itching to jump into the couch with you? Don’t let him in until you say so. This will teach your doggo that permission is required before he breaches the distance. The same goes for petting and play time. Make him wait for a few seconds or minutes. It’s the guaranteed way to show that you’re the boss.
Do this when feeding too. Food is the kryptonite of dogs and if you get to train him to wait, you’re succeeding in asserting your dominance. But don’t be so cruel, though. That doggo is craving for his meal, hooman!
Watch this video for an inspiration:
It will take months for these steps on how to make your dog respect you yield positive results. You have to practice patience since there are dog breeds that can be pretty stubborn when it comes to training. But give them more love and they will give it back even more.