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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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Overall Package Method
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Obedience Commands Method
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
By James Barra
Published: 10/18/2017, edited: 01/08/2021