Most dogs are happy to assume a submissive role in the family, allowing you to be the leader of the pack. Others may enjoy challenging you for control. If youre not the top dog in your family, its time to put your pooch back in his rightful place for his own good as well as yours.
How do you know if you have a pushy dog? Does he bring you toys and nudge you until you play? Does he push or pay to go through doors before you? Does he maneuver himself into position under your hands and nuzzle you for pets? If so, you have a dog who is controlling you!
If allowed to continue these behaviors without correction, your dog will get the message that he has trained you and these behaviors will be repeated.
No Free Rides
Curing a doggie diva of bad habits requires that you consistent asserting your control. In fact, most dogs prefer that you assume the role of the pack leader; it is reassuring to your dog to know that hes in a secure environment and can get all his resources from you provided he behaves as directed.
You must practice the nothing in life is free approach with your dog, making him work for everything he gets from you — from food to toys and playtime. Require him to perform an obedience command (sit, down or other) before your give him anything, including affection. This approach establishes your leadership and reinforces desired behaviors.
A dog who thinks hes the boss of the house may try to manipulate you into a petting or play session; who can resist those big brown eyes? However, its important to remember that youre the one in charge do not let him direct you into a situation where hes calling all the shots.
You go first!
Even simple actions can relay the message that youre the leader. If the pooch has sprawled himself on the floor and is blocking your path, dont step around or over him make him move. The pack leader of the group is always able to move about freely, and subordinates move aside.
When leaving or entering the house, you should always go through the door before the dog. Make him sit and wait for your command. If fact, dont chase after him to put on his leash; call him to come to you and sit quietly while you put on his leash.
Training experts recommend suspending tug of war type games while the dog is being re-conditioned because it puts him on equal footing. Instead, play fetch or find it and games that make the dog work for you. If he tries to change the game, ignore him and walk away. Resume a play session later, when you want to not because hes asking to play.
Finally, dogs that have a pushy attitude should never share a couch or bed with you. If you give him permission, he may sit there by himself. Territory defensiveness could lead to aggressive behaviors, even with even-tempered pets. Visit your veterinarian if your dog is showing signs of aggression or excessive fearfulness.
One of the simplest lessons you teach your dogs could be the most valuable: respect.
For more information about training and pet behavior, visit or call the Best Friends center nearest you.