The leader is the one who makes the decisions. In dog training we have a saying, “Leaders initiate, followers react.” If you feel like you are not in control of your dog, you’re probably not. Literally.
Want to know what may be behind the lack of respect from your dog? Keep track of all interactions you have with him for the next few days. Every time you do something together, ask yourself, who initiated that? Was it you or the dog?
Example 1: You are throwing the ball for your dog. Your idea or his? Did he push the ball into your leg while you were watching TV, then you threw it for him? His idea. He just gave you the command for throw. You’re an obedient owner. Respect-o-meter going down.
Example 2: Your dog is lying quietly on her bed while you are eating dinner at your coffee table, watching TV. You save a few scraps on your plate. You walk over to your dog’s food bowl, call her, and scrape the leftovers into her bowl. Your idea or hers? Your dog was calmly resting while you ate. You called her over and she came right away. Your idea. Respect-o-meter rising.
Do you see the difference here? If the dog is initiating the majority of your decisions, you’ve trained her to train you. You’re a good trainer. Sort of.
If this is a problem in your relationship with your dog, you can turn it around. Start ignoring pushy behaviors, and reward polite behaviors. Be patient with yourself – you may find at first that you’re more well-trained than you thought.