How to Train Your Dog to Respect You

Medium
3-8 Weeks
General

Introduction

You accidentally drop some food onto the floor and your dog bounds over. You instruct him to back off, but as usual, he ignores you. You’re out on a walk and he sees another dog across the road. You tell him to heel but he instantly tries to leap across the road to sniff the other dog's behind. The truth is, he just doesn’t respect you. If he doesn’t respect you, then training him to do any number of things can be an uphill battle.

Training him not to go to the toilet inside, training him not to jump on the furniture, and loads of other instructions will fall on deaf ears. If you can train him to respect you, however, you will reassert yourself as the pack leader and finally be able to enforce the rules.

Defining Tasks

Training your dog to respect you isn’t a walk in the park, but it isn’t overly complicated either. The first thing to do is hammer home some obedience commands. These will help show him who is in charge and get him dancing to your tune. You will also need to tackle bad behavior firmly. If he’s a puppy, then getting him to respect you should take just a few weeks, as he should be receptive. If he’s older, it may require a couple of months of reinforcing boundaries before you finally get the respect you deserve.

Get this training right though, and you may see a transformed dog. A dog that sits when you tell him to, goes to the toilet where you want him to, and stays off your furniture when you tell him to. It could also make him more friendly, gentle and sociable around other dogs and people. 

Getting Started

Before you can begin seizing back control, you’ll need to gather some things. His favorite food broken into small pieces or tempting treats will be used to motivate and reward him during training. 

You’ll also need a quiet place to train for 10 minutes each day. Use a location where you won’t be distracted by noisy children and other pets. For one of the methods, you will also need a spray bottle of water to knock bad behavior on the head.

The only other things you need is a proactive attitude and patience. Then you’re all set to get going!

The Pack Leader Method

Most Recommended
3 Votes
Step
1
Protect him
When you’re on walks, position yourself between other dogs and your own dog. If he’s in front of you then he’ll think he is pack leader and that it’s his job to protect you. If you’re always in-between he’ll respect you keeping him safe.
Step
2
Comfort him
If he’s afraid of fireworks, thunder, or other dogs, make sure you cheer him up. Just by gently playing with him or giving him the odd treat will perk him up. This is important because he’ll begin to see you in a protector/leader role and he’ll respect you for it.
Step
3
Always feed him
Dogs respect and remember those that feed them. If you’re always the one to give him his food, he’ll see you as the gateway to calories and want to keep you happy. Also make him wait a couple of minutes for his food, this will further cement your position as the pack leader.
Step
4
Be firm but never terrifying
Some owners make the mistake of thinking the more they shout the more their dog will respect them. This isn’t the case. In the wild, mothers simply pick pups up by the scruff of their neck and remove them calmly when they’ve misbehaved. You need to have the same calm but firm approach.
Step
5
Plenty of exercise
If he needs you for his food and exercise he’ll be keen to please you. Give him plenty of walks and he’ll be tired, grateful, and love his adventures with you. All of this will help to position yourself as the pack leader and earn your respect.
Recommend training method?

The Overall Package Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Be assertive
You need to be calm but firm when your dog misbehaves. Don’t shout or go off the handle, this may just terrify him. Instead, if he does something wrong, calmly remove him from the situation until he calms down. This will help show him who is pack leader.
Step
2
Be consistent with boundaries
The saying ‘give him an inch and he’ll take a mile’ can also be applied to dogs, so you have to be consistent. If you let him on the sofa once, he’ll jump on it again. Stick to every rule religiously.
Step
3
Make him wait
An easy way to demand respect is by making him wait for things. Make him wait a minute before you give him food. Make him wait for a couple of minutes before you take him for a walk. This will all show him you’re the boss and that he has to respect that.
Step
4
Make him work
Before he gets something nice like a treat or a meal, have him do something to earn it. It could be as simple as getting him to sit or lie down. This will help him to focus on pleasing you and trying to win your affection for tasty rewards.
Step
5
Give him his own space
Ensure he has a bed or corner of a room that’s all his. Let that be only his, don’t always go in there to play with him. This will soon become his own territory. By having his own territory that’s all his, he’ll begin to realize everywhere else in the house is your territory and that you’re the leader of it.
Recommend training method?

The Obedience Commands Method

Least Recommended
1 Vote
Step
1
‘Sit’
Hold a treat out in front of him and give him the ‘sit’ command. By teaching him obedience commands you are reinforcing your control and showing him that you control the tasty rewards.
Step
2
Encouragement
If he doesn’t get the hang of it straight away, lead his nose up with the treat or push his bottom down gently with your hand. As soon as he’s seated, give him a treat and lots of praise. Practice this each day until he’s a sit down pro.
Step
3
Incorporate other obedience commands
You could teach him to lie down, to roll over, even to do a back flip. Daily training like this will be fantastic for teaching him to respect you. It will change the way he perceives you and for the better!
Step
4
Water spray bottle
If he misbehaves, you can quickly give him a spray of water near his face. Don’t spray it into his eyes, just a short burst to let him know that was the wrong behavior. He will learn to respect you, otherwise you can cause this unpleasant experience.
Step
5
Encourage down time
Spending a few minutes each day quietly in each others company is important for building a healthy, respectful relationship. Don’t play with each other or be noisy, just have him lie next to you. This will help build a comfortable bond and that will in turn lead to him respecting you.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Bailey
French Bulldog
3 Months
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Question
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Bailey
French Bulldog
3 Months

I feel as though my dog does not respect me. Barks. Constantly tries to chew on me. Disobeys when she knows she did something wrong.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
115 Dog owners recommended

Hello Lauren, One of the best ways to build respect between you and your dog is to spend time teaching obedience throughout the week. You can have your dog work for you to earn it's kibble, one piece at a time, by practicing commands such as sitting, heeling, downing, staying, paying attention, leaving it, waiting, and more. Practicing these things can not only teach your dog to listen to you better, it can also have the added benefits of building a relationship of trust, respect, and fun, decreasing your dog's excess mental energy, developing useful commands to help your dog understand you better, and giving your dog a sense of purpose. You must be consistent and require follow through while training and in general. For example , when you practice teaching your dog to come, you can attach a long, light weight, twenty or thirty foot leash. Then you can excitedly call your dog to come while running away to encourage running after you, and then praise your dog when she arrives. If she does not come, you can reel her in with the leash, so that she learns that she is not able to ignore your command. You have then ensured that she followed your command while also giving her reason to want to come in the future. Working on training can also help with the mouthing and barking. You can teach her to stop mouthing you by teaching her a very strong leave it command. Once she knows the leave it command well around food and toys and household items, you can then place the items in your hand or on your person and practice having her leave the items alone when you have them. Once she will leave those known items alone when you have them, then you can practice having her leave your hands, feet, clothes, and whatever else on you she is mouthing alone. For the barking you can work on teaching a quiet command, then once she understands the quiet command, you can enforce the quiet command by blocking her vision with your body and getting her focus back on you using your body language, while giving her the command. She can then be rewarded with a toy or treat or with being allowed to be near or to view whatever she was barking at before. The barking trigger itself can be the reward. At three months old she is likely teething and a lot of mouthing can be normal. She is also likely beginning to show more independence and is testing boundaries as she matures into the equivalent of a dog preteen. This period requires a lot of consistency and training, and it can appear that the training is not working at this age, but it is important to stay consistent. Eventually she will grow out of this period and your training success will become more evident if you persevered during this period. If you feel like she is beginning to show any aggressive tendencies, it is best to consult a trainer early because the sooner you begin the more effective the training is likely to be. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Callie
Border Collie
11 Months
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Callie
Border Collie
11 Months

Hi, I adopted a border collie/cattle dog mix almost 2 weeks ago. She's quite nervous of everything which I expected beings she came from a kennel environment. At first she clung to me as her source of comfort and listened to me without prevail. She learned sit, lay down, and shake all within the first few days. Recently she fights me on every obedience command. She also refuses to let me be in charge when we go on walks. I'm at a loss of what to do.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
115 Dog owners recommended

Hello Ashton, Border Collies and Cattle Dogs are both highly intelligent, hard working, often strong willed breeds, but they are also sensitive, very alert, tuned into people and their environment, and need a lot of mental stimulation, especially Border Collies. Check out this Wag! Article and pay special attention to the obedience method and the consistency method. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Those breeds need their owners to earn their respect without being physically tough with them. The best way to do that with those breeds is to challenge them mentally with frequent training sessions that involve concentration, focus, self-control, and learning new things. You also need to be very consistent. When you ask your girl to do something that you know she has already learned, then make sure that she does it. For example, when you tell her to come, if she does not come, then go get her and bring her back to where you originally called her from and have her sit, then attach a fifty foot leash and release her again and call her again five times in a row until she is coming consistently. When you tell her to sit then do not let her leave until she sits. When you first teach her something new make it fun and rewarding, but once she knows the command have her work for everyday life rewards like walks and meals by having her do a command first. Your attitude with her should be patient and calm, but very firm when enforcing something. Believe that she can do it and expect it of her. Your girl will benefit from the structure and consistency if she has anxiety issues. Even though she is challenging your authority she will benefit from your leadership. For the walks, check out Jeff Gelhman from Solidk9training's videos on YouTube. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Tober
Border Collie
6 Months
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Question
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Tober
Border Collie
6 Months

My puppy is kennel trained, but spent his first 4 months living at my parents house even though I took care of all the training, feeding and walking. He would bark in the middle of the night to go out, and has yet to figure out how to sleep through the night. I’ve trained him to “settle” which will stop the barks for about an hour, but he continues to wake up about 3am. His barks strike me as telling me he is lonely (he sleeps in another room), because it is a single bark followed by about 45 seconds of silence. I did call my vet and she told me to let him cry it out as it didn’t look like he has a UTI or anything. But he continues to do this after 3 weeks. Any advice? I don’t want to sedate him at night and he’s already walking 5 miles every day to tire him out (split into seceral walks) in addition to several training sessions and puzzle toys during throughout the day.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
115 Dog owners recommended

Hello Erin, I agree with your vet that he needs to cry it out. After six months of being attended to during the night it will take him a while to break the habit of barking in the middle of the night. This is especially true for smart, stubborn, sensitive dogs like Border Collies. When he barks don't go into the room or you will simply prolong the barking. There are a few things you can do in addition to that however. First place him into the crate every day while you are at home for up to an hour. Stuff a large Kong toy with 'mush' and then freeze it. To make the mush, place his food into a bowl and cover it with water, then let it sit out until the food absorbs the water and turns into mush. Mix a bit or peanut butter or soft treat paste into the mush and then very loosely stuff and freeze the Kong. When you place him into the crate put the stuffed Kong inside with him. When he stays quiet for five minutes, or becomes quiet for at least thirty seconds after barking, then go over to the crate, drop several treats inside, and then walk away again without saying anything. Repeat this throughout the crate hour. As he improves, then only go over to the crate and drop in treats every ten minutes, then eventually every thirty minutes, then only once, then not at all. Continue to give him a Kong whenever you crate him though. The idea is to teach him to self-entertain, self-sooth, and accept the crate by giving him something to do in the crate besides barking and by rewarding his quietness. At night when you place him into the crate, wedge a couple of larger treats into the Kong, then give him the Kong when he goes to bed for comfort. Do not give him a completely stuffed Kong because you do not want him to have to go to the bathroom during the night, just do a couple of large treats. After spending time training him during the day, he should begin to associate the Kong with entertaining himself so that he will chew on that when he wakes up and needs to wind back down. Expect him to cry still, possibly for another month. Let him. Learning how to be independent from you and self-sooth and self-entertain can help prevent separation anxiety later on. He does need to be shown what to do during the day, be given something safe to do during the night that is not too stimulating, i.e. the Kong, and be given the opportunity to figure it out on his own. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Cooper
Golden Retriever
6 Months
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Cooper
Golden Retriever
6 Months

Cooper used to obey me till he was 4 months old by that time I taught him to sit on my command later he started to disobey me he only listened to me when I hold a piece of food and barks at me when I ask him to do stuff when he’s not in the mood in front of me when I take him for walks he tries to free himself from the leash and run away and eat garbage from the street jumps on me and starts biting when he sees me after a long time tries to eat food from my plate. Help!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
115 Dog owners recommended

Hello Subham, Check out the article that I have linked below and work on a bit of all three methods. Also, Cooper likely needs to attend an Intermediate Obedience Class. In Basic Obedience dogs learn what different commands means, but in Intermediate they learn how to do those commands in every day life, even when they do not feel like it. A good Intermediate class should also work on phasing out treats, so that you do not always have to have food to get your dog to listen. Check out references and reviews for trainers in your area, ask if they phase out food, and explain your issues to them to get an idea whether or not they can address enforcing known commands, rather than simply bribing with treats. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Rosie
Pit bull
3 Years
0 found helpful
Question
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Rosie
Pit bull
3 Years

I can't get Rosie to stop jumping on people when she's excited and running around the house. With other dogs it may not be as much of a problem, but she is a 60 pound, very strong pit bull. She leaves scratches on me and others when she gets excited. I don't want to discipline her for being happy or showing her excitement, but I want to teach her how to calmly and appropriately express that excitement. Any suggestions?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
115 Dog owners recommended

Hello Natalie, Check out the article that I have linked below. All of the methods in that article are pretty gentle. You can even do a combination of all three methods. Whenever you are able to step toward her, do so because that will teach personal space and respect, and then when she sits to greet you instead of jumping, reward her. Do this to teach her to respect your personal space but also to teach her what she can do instead of jumping when excited. When she is greeting other people, if the person is not someone you can reasonably expect to be able to step toward her, then use the "Leash" method with other people and let her correct herself by keeping the leash tight enough that when she jumps it up and all the slack goes out of the leash the leash will pull her back toward the floor. When she sits to greet after being corrected with the leash, then either have your guest give her a treat or you can give her one instead. When she begins to sit without jumping first, then only give her a treat for sitting without any jumping. Here is a link to that article: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-australian-shepherds-to-not-jump Also, because she is jumping for attention, never pet her or talk happily to her when she jumps, instead give her affection, rewards, and praise for doing the correct behavior, which is sitting or at least keeping all four paws on the floor. Sitting is often clearer than just standing for a dog at first though. Sitting gives the dog something specific to do when he wants to ask for attention. When she gets super excited and starts jumping while playing, end the play sessions whenever she jumps up. It might be hard to do, but it is gentle and dogs need rules and boundaries too. Play with her and have a great time while she is playing nicely, but stop all play if she jumps. That should also help her to learn that jumping shouldn't be a part of play. Because she is heavy jumping on the wrong people, like kids or elderly or disabled people can be dangerous, so it needs to be taken seriously, but reward her for doing the correct behavior so that she is still able to have fun. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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