The first mistake you can make as a dog owner is thinking of your dog as a cute and furry human. A dog is so far from a human it’s not funny, and treating him as such not only leads your dog to act out at home, it can encourages him to develop dangerous or intimidating behaviors.
Owning a dog, in my opinion, is a big responsibility, as you need him to be safe and sociable.
In essence, your dog should be recessive, calm, and be looking to take orders from you at all times.
If this is not happening, and the dog is not respecting you as a pack leader, there is work to be done and habits to break.
Hints your dog does not think you are the leader
- Your dog snarls, growls, or snaps at you if you try to move him off the couch or bed.
- Your dog curls up on the couch or bed uninvited.
- Your dog snatches food from your plate or from your hands.
- Your dog does not listen to you when you call him; he will not obey orders to sit or stay.
- Your dog pushes past you when passing through a doorway or gate; he does not wait on your command.
- Your dog has annoying behaviors that you don’t like, but that you put up with—such as scratching the door, barking at you, or nudging you to pet him.
Becoming a pack leader
Learning how to be a leader for your dog is an empowering journey, particularly if being the boss is not a role you are used to filling.
In the beginning, changing your actions and attitude may feel like you are being harsh and cruel toward your dog. But have you ever seen the way dogs communicate with each other? It’s pretty black and white. There is no democracy in the hierarchy of dogs.
This video explains how the hierarchy should be in your home in order for there to be harmony between you, your family, and your dog:
The reward for this new approach is enjoying a closer, more reliant companion. Your household will feel calmer, less chaotic, and you will again be in control—as you should be. Your dog will be obedient, and will seek affection and reassurance from you.
Feel like a pack leader
To get into the mind of a pack leader, you need exude the confidence of a “boss.” Dogs are expert body-language readers; show them with your body who’s in charge.
- Stand tall and proud, think: I know who I am, I am assertive.
- Relax your body, think: This is my place, I make the decisions, I take my time.
- Be aware of your stomach and heart, think: I am strong and deep, I am unshakable, I am the true leader, I can be trusted.
On a final note, I must drill home one most important fact: Dogs need leaders; either you assume that role, or they will.