Ok, I often get phone calls or emails from distressed owners who are having trouble with their dog. My dog is being difficult! I can't make him do anything! He only listens to me when he's in the mood. So I decided to write this and post it hoping to give a little insight to anyone who might be dealing with these same issues!
My first question often is so your dog is being rude...? This often catches them off guard, I mean how can my dog be acting rude?
Let us count the many ways shall we!
Talking back: Sassin, you back when you tell him to do something? Does he bark back at you If he doesn't want to do something? Grumbling when annoyed? Does he ever grumble at you when you wake him up? Or when you try to move him off his favorite chair? Or when you reach toward his food bowl while he's eating? Or when you touch some "sensitive" part of his body, like his tail or stomach or paw? Let me guess…. but he's just telling me not to bother him. Hanging onto objects Does he brace his legs and refuse to let go when you try to take something away from him?
Pestering you: nudge or pester you for attention when you're trying to read the newspaper, or when you talk on the phone or visit with guests?
Stealing food: Does he sometimes steal food off your plate when you leave it unattended? Does he get into the trash? Staying just out of your reach When you reach your hand toward him, does he sometimes dart away from you, keeping just out of reach? Running away from you: When you catch him doing something wrong, does he run from you? Does he lead you on a merry chase around the house or yard? "Telling off" strangers or other dogs: Does he decide who's welcome in your home and who isn't? Does he bark or grumble at visitors even after you've let them in? Pitch a fit when he sees another dog?
Jumping on people: and if he does like them, is he calm and polite? Or does he jump all over them?
Yes, if your dog does these things they are really that bad. He is being RUDE
Why rude behaviors are bad
Those behaviors are rude and disrespectful. If a dog is allowed to do things that are rude and disrespectful, he starts believing that he is higher in the pecking order than YOU.
What is a pecking order?
It's like a ladder of hierarchy. Dogs are sociable animals who like to live with other sociable animals in a group or pack. This "pack instinct" is built into your dog's genes, and it's a good thing because it's why dogs wedge themselves so tightly into our families. When a dog joins your family, even if your family consists only of a single person – YOU – a pack is formed.
YES, in his mind it certainly is, and his instincts compel him to seek out its structure: Who is the leader, and who is the follower?
I'll give you a hint.....whoever is allowed to set the rules and make the decisions is the leader.
The other one is the follower.
If you don't establish YOURSELF as the leader, your dog will be compelled by his instincts to assume that role. And then you will see those "rude and disrespectful" behaviors. Your dog isn't really being rude or disrespectful. He is simply carrying out his role as Leader. Since you haven't assumed the role, HE has to do it." Your dog can’t just be your friend."
He is your dependent. He depends on you for his health, his safety, his very life. There are times when you need to do things with your dog that he won’t understand and doesn't like.
For example, you might need to give medicine that tastes awful..... or take something dangerous out of his mouth..... or roll him onto his back so you can cut out a nasty mat or remove a tick from his belly.
He may be smart, but he doesn't understand that medicines will help him, that some things he puts in his mouth will poison him or choke him, that mats are bad for his skin and ticks carry disease. Without this knowledge, He doesn't know what's best for him.
For his own safety, your dog must always accept YOUR greater knowledge and judgment.
For your own peace of mind as your dog's guardian and caregiver, you must feel confident that you can restrain and handle him in any way you see fit, at any time you see fit.
If your dog won't even accept minor things such as clipping his toenails, or cleaning his teeth, or dropping a toy or sitting quietly while you attach his leash.... if your dog barks back at you, or pesters you, or won't shut up when people come to the door, or dashes away from you, or won't come when he's called.... then he's certainly not going to accept some major things you might need to do with him to take proper care of him.
You simply cannot take proper care of your dog if he doesn't acknowledge you as his leader.
If you're worried that if you take charge all the time, Your dog will resent you the simple answer is "No, he'll RESPECT you.....and that is a wonderful thing! When your dog respects you, when he recognizes you as a capable leader worthy of respect, he will not only behave beautifully for you, but also he will feel happy and secure.....because it's a great load off his shoulders. Follower dogs are MUCH happier than dogs who are forced to be the boss in their family.
Let me explain why follower dogs feel so happy and secure
Follower dogs feel secure because they know someone else is in charge
Your dog craves a leader who has everything under control. Then HE doesn't have to worry about trying to figure out our complicated world. Follower dogs can just relax and enjoy life while YOU handle all the decisions.
Follower dogs feel happy because everyone likes them
Since follower dogs are so willing to listen to you and learn from you, it's easy to teach them the kinds of good behaviors that make them stand out in a crowd. People appreciate well-behaved follower dogs and are quick to pet them and compliment them. Dogs love this kind of attention.
Follower dogs feel secure because they've learned the consequences of everything they do.
Follower dogs have been taught which behaviors bring them praise, petting, and treats, and which behaviors bring scolding or corrections. This clear distinction helps them choose which behaviors to do, and which behaviors to avoid. Dogs love the security of knowing what to do and what not to do.
Follower dogs are happy because they've learned what our human sounds mean.
Like anyone who learns a foreign language, your dog feels confident and empowered when he understands what you're saying.
If you want your dog to be the follower......YOU must be the leader
Why do you need to be a leader to teach him things? Won't he learn from you if I just love him? Don't dogs want to please the people they love?"
Surprisingly, no. Dogs only want to please people they respect. They only want to please leaders. If your dog is doing any of those behaviors we talked about earlier.....if he's not listening to you....then you've lost at least some of his respect, and you need to know what to do to get it back. With the help of a professional trainer, you'll learn how to teach him to be a respectful follower dog and then he'll pay attention to you and do what you say.