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3 Signs Your Dog Does Not Respect You

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3 Signs Your Dog Does Not Respect You

Filling the Leadership Role Rather Than The Litter Mate Role


Respect is mutual.  To have your dog's respect, you have to do the right things to earn it.  On the other hand, your dog will not understand how to earn your respect unless you teach him or her.  The majority of new puppies I see default into treating their new owners like litter mates rather than their mother, or leadership figure.  These behaviors will continue into adulthood unless you teach them otherwise.  While being a playmate sounds fun, the reality is it can be potentially dangerous for your pet.  Without respect of human leadership figures, dogs can develop into bite risk cases.  Besides, playing with their leader is much more fulfilling psychologically for a dog than playing with their litter mates, so you do not want to cheat your dog out of that facet of life either!

Here are a few signs your dog or puppy does not see you as a leader:


1.  They invade your space without permission.  

The behavior I probably get called as a dog trainer to fix in puppies the most is nipping.  People are tired of their cute little furiends drawing blood with their sharp needle teeth constantly.  All puppies will do this unless taught otherwise.  You have to assume the leader role, or the parent role if you will, rather than the litter mate role.  Puppies cannot mouth on their mother dog whenever they choose.  They have to be invited to play with her and any other adult dogs they interact with in their infancy.  It is only their litter mates who are a free-for-all.


This extends beyond just nipping.  Dogs who do not respect your personal space may just be loving and want attention.  Or they may simply think they have the right to sit on you whenever they choose.  It is a fine distinction to make between cuddling and claiming.  If you are not certain which your dog is engaging in, contact a professional trainer.

2.  They guard possessions from you or guard you.

Leader dogs own all the treasures.  These can be tasty bones, food, prized toys...and attention.  When a non-leader dog tries to take a treasure from a leader dog, the leader dog will either choose he or she is done with the treasure and allow it to be taken or they will reprimand their subordinate for attempting to take it before he or she was done with it.  If your dog snarls at you while they are nursing a bone, there is a good chance you do not fall in the leader category.  When you do, your dog might not be happy about relinquishing treasures, but he or she will do so without too much protest when asked.  Guarding includes you.  I see this a lot with little dogs, as they were bred to be companion dogs.  Companion dogs are very much motivated by your presence, hence being bred to be companions.  Therefore they highly prize your company.  However, if you do not fill the leadership role, you become a possession to be guarded.  I see this a lot.  The dog jumps into the owner's lap and then growls, snaps, and snarls at anyone who comes near.  Owners usually make the mistake of trying to comfort the dog  (little dogs often shake when excited and owners mistake this as fear).  Fluffy is not seeking comfort from you, at least not in entirety.  Fluffy is guarding you, her favorite possession, against interlopers...and you are rewarding her with physical contact and comfort by keeping her in your arms and petting her.
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3. They ignore commands.

Every dog has a varying degree of consistency in obedience.  My job is to increase your consistency whether it be pretty good already or nonexistent.  However, ignoring you when you give a precise, enunciated, clear command is not just an obedience consistency issue- it is also a respect issue.  Leader dogs issue edicts all the time.  If dogs choose to ignore the leader dog, they receive a quick, decisive reprimand.  If your dog is ignoring you, it is entirely possible he or she does not think you have the authority to reprimand them (filling the leadership role).



That's nice, Sammy.  How do I fix it?

While I do not espouse dominance training (see The Death of Dominance Training), consistent training and being fair, humane, and judicious with reprimanding undesirable behavior is a start.  I could (and have) a whole book on how to do this (follow me on Instagram: sammythedogtrainer and Twitter: @sammydogtrainer to help me get it published!).  Many of my blog posts will help you become a better dog handler/trainer and start to fill the leadership role as well.  Here is a list of a few of them, but please peruse- there are more!

Avoiding the Chihuahua Syndrome

What is Positive Reinforcement, Really?

Simple Dog Training Rule

Be a Better Dog Handler



If you are comfortable being a litter mate, and do not feel the need to take up the yoke of leadership, I will leave you with this thought:
dog behavior quote



Cheers,
Sammy the Dog Trainer

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