Friday, March 26, 2010

Signs That Show Your Dog Respects You

By Linda Cole

The loyalty of our dogs cannot be questioned; they will stand by us through thick and thin. Dogs can be well behaved and guard our homes and property, but it doesn't necessarily mean they respect you. You can tell if your dog respects you by how they interact with you.

Happy tail wagging, ears laid back and submissive body language when you return home is one sign your dog respects you. Lip licking, grooming you and even a kiss on the cheek are signs that they recognize you as their leader and respect you.

In the dog world, the leader always goes first. A dog who races to the door ahead of his owner is showing disrespect, and doesn't see the human as the alpha of his pack. When your dog respects you, he stays calmly behind you and waits for you to walk through the doorway first. Whether you are going outside for a walk, up or down steps or someone has knocked on the door, a respectful dog will never push ahead of his owner.

The alpha always eats first and never gives out scraps of food while eating. The dog who recognizes you as his leader and respects you will never steal food from your hand, the dinner table or your plate. He will wait until you decide it's time for him to eat. Anytime you feed your dog, if you haven't eaten beforehand, take a snack and eat it in front of your dog and then feed him. If you can leave your food unattended for a short time, that's a big sign your dog respects you.

The leader of the pack always takes the prime places for sitting or lying down. The respectful dog will move out of your way anytime you claim a spot on the couch, your chair or in your bed. There's nothing wrong with allowing your dog on the furniture or in bed with you, but never allow him to push you out of your spot. When you get up, the dog should take a position on the floor and if he is lying in your path, he will get up and move if he respects you. Never walk around your dog. Make him move out of your way.

We need to groom, bathe, trim toenails, give medication, put on flea control and do things the dog may not like. A dog who respects and trusts his owner will not growl while things are being attended to no matter how much he dislikes it. Dogs use eye contact to challenge and intimidate subordinates in the pack. If your dog respects you, he will break eye contact with you first. Never look away from your dog first if he is staring at you.

A dog who completely ignores your commands to sit, drop it, stay or lie down is showing they are the ones who decide when and what they will do. Following your rules and basic commands not only shows your dog respects you, but it's important for them to learn and obey commands because they don't understand the danger a moving car can present to them if they ignore it.

Being the leader of the pack is an awesome responsibility. Your dog is giving you his trust that you will provide him with what he needs and do so in a respectful matter as his leader. But you have to earn your dog's trust and respect. It's not automatic and you do have to prove yourself to your dog. An owner who appears weak as a leader, is inconsistent, unfair, shows that the dog intimidates them and allows their dog to be dominate has lost the battle for control, and the dog will not respect them.

When a dog doesn't respect his owner, it can open the door to an out of control, unhappy dog and owner who clash every day. An owner who has not taken full command of his dog will have an unstable and potentially more aggressive pet that is difficult to handle. These are the dogs that often end up in shelters or even abandoned.

It's not difficult to earn a dog's respect and trust. By taking the alpha role and showing your dog love, kindness and your own respect for him, your dog will gladly follow and obey you. Be consistent in your training, fair in your punishment if and when it's needed and give your dog lots of praise. Set aside playing time to bond, and stay in control to earn your dog's respect and the right to the best places to sit and sleep.

Read more articles by Linda Cole


  1. I don't 100% agree with all the points, but mostly true in my experience.

  2. what a great post. this does talk about good information and i am a dog lover. will surely follow your advice....

  3. This makes me feel so proud. I have a very "bossy" dog who would happily run the household if I let her. Sometimes I despair that she'll ever calm down and behave! But these little signs, particularly my being able to leave food unattended, make me feel like I'm doing a good job with her. Thank you for posting this!

  4. I don't agree with much of this post - of course all of the behavior she describes should be what your dog does (doesn't steal food, budge in front to get out the door, etc.), but I think it is more of teaching your dog the house rules then a power struggle for alpha. Read the book "Inside of a Dog" by Alexandra Horowitz for a much better idea of the relationship dynamics between humans and dogs then is presented in this article.

  5. The problem with these signs of "respect" is that they really don't have anything to do with the way the dog feels. The have to do with what the dog has been taught is acceptable.

    My dog goes ahead of me through doorways and up stairs. I want to see where he is so we don't trip over one another. I have the upright body and the forward facing eyes. He stays in front because he's been TAUGHT to stay in front.

    My dog leaves unattended food along because he has been TAUGHT that unattended food NEVER goes to dogs. Instead, he can get food by leaving it alone. It's training.

    My dog will stare holes in me with his eyes. Disrespect? No. TRAINING.

    Dogs are opportunists. Not wolves. Teach them how to get what they want and everyone will be happier.

  6. im gonna have to agree with both sides on this. i have a 5 year old boxer.ive had her from the day that i could safely take her from mom. from that day on, she wasnt a family dog, she was family. next to my kids, i love my dog more than than i can put across to you. with that being said, boxers are hyper dogs- so alot of the time she will dash ahead and even somtimes grabs her learsh and meets me on the porch like im the poky one. i work during the day- 8 hrs. so she has run of the house. yes she lays on the furniture, sleeps in my bed, but never ever once has she, pee`ed or pooped in the house. never torn stuff up. and ive never had a break in or stuff like that. so by all means, she probably is spoiled more than alot would allow their dogs to be and im cool with that. she pulls her share around our house.also on an emotional lvl. she knows the feels in the house and i know hers. on the same note, we established the totem pole from day one, meaning that im top dog and she is #2. chain of command type thing. what im trying to get across is- granted dogs need to be taught, and im probably one of the lucky ones, but as close and bonded as we are i really didnt have to teach her as much as 1 would think. it so so much of living and routine, honestly shes just a smart dog. . so if you wanna train your dog to be a dog, your gonna have a dog. my dog is part of my family

  7. I understand what this post is trying to say - and I do agree with the majority of it's message to an extent. Much like the post prior, my 4 year- old mixed terrier rescue is also my family and not much training was ever involved. Besides the basic, potty training, sitting and finding/retrieving his toys on command. I find, along with lots of exercise, delicious treats and love- discipline also makes for a happy dog. You always want to keep your loved one mentally stimulated and challenged. And that means incorporating different regulations / rules - I don't necessarily think they are specific to what's listed in this post. I believe every relationship is different and the dynamic between owner and pet varies.
    For example: I don't feel the need to "win a staring contest" with my dog, neither do I feel he should ignore his excitement when he finds himself racing to our front door after a walk. Again, our relationship has varied in this respect because I know he understands this doesn't grant him the "alpha" throne. (I know this- because if he's gone too far ahead, he'll turn around, sit and wait until I've caught up...he's never far.)

    I am truly one of the lucky ones, my dog is extremely calm, cuddly, and never touches anything around the house- even if there was a plate of my food on the floor, he wouldnt go near it if I left him alone for hours! He's extremely human-like and everyone who's encountered him even for a second never fails to ask "is he going to talk soon?" He even stays put for a whole 2 hours while I'm desperately trying to cut his hair with scissors! (Now I'm babbling!)
    Point being- some dogs need to be taught, controlled, and enforced more than others depending on the owners needs. If the owner prefers a dog to walk ahead of them, is the owner automatically deemed as #2? No.

    1. We have two dogs, neither have been trained at all. My bf had them before I came here with my kids. I agreed to help him train them as they were pretty much out of control. They have eaten half his house. Ruining rugs, couches and anything held within it. The dogs seem to have no respect for his commands the first time given, second time... and even third time. One of the dogs is not to disrespectful as to playful and needing certain trainings to be considered able to stay here around the kids. The other one is pretty much out of control and thinking he can do and treat people how ever he wants. Both push the kids out of their way. Even me when I first got here. The one dog is going up to the kids when they have food in their hands. Its scary because I know what a large dog can do to a child. As of now, they are only 2... still puppies, and Im considering "its me or the dog" So for these trainings, Its worth a try with them before we end up getting rid of them.

  8. my dog doesnt move out of the way when shes in my seat. and if i try to physically move her she growls and sometimes tries to bite me, but if i say "down" and point to the floor she gets right off without making a fuss.

  9. I have 2 pitbulls and the recipe for success is exercise disipline affection. Has worked with all dogs i have owned. I learned this method years ago from a trianer long before cesar millian. If you stick with these 3 things in that order you will succeed. It will always take time but after sometime your dog will do anything you ask. I can leave my dogs in nyc on a conrner tell them to stay come back hours later they would be in the same place not because they have been trianed that way but because they trust and respect me as alpha

  10. Thanks! This is what I need! I was looking all over to find a paper like this. I wanted to know how I would know if my German Shepherd respected me.


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