Written By Sharon Parry
Last Updated March 3, 2021

Teaching your dog to respect you is at the heart of all dog training but is something that many dog owners struggle with. If your dog does not both trust and respect you, obedience training is going to be an uphill battle. Some dogs are easier to train than others so we have compiled a list of the dogs that are easiest to train here. However, all dogs can be challenging at some point, especially during adolescence. In fact, teaching your dog to respect you is the most important thing that you will ever teach them! Read on to find out how you earn your dog’s respect.

Signs that you Need Puppy Respect Training

There are some tell-tale signs that your dog does not respect you. Take this quick test. If you answer yes to most of the following questions, it’s a sign that you need to teach your dog some respect!

  • Do they bark back at you when you give them a command?
  • Do they grumble and growl when you move them off their favorite chair?
  • Do they refuse to let you take objects off them?
  • Do they constantly pester you for attention?
  • Do they steal food off kitchen surfaces and off your plate?
  • Do they refuse to come back when you call them?
  • Do they jump up on people when they visit your house or in the park?

Why Teach Your Dog Respect Training?

So, why should you bother going to the effort of teaching your dog to respect you? Dogs are pack animals and therefore expect and assume that someone is in charge. In a pack situation, this is the alpha dog. They are in control of the other dogs and set boundaries.

If no one in your household asserts themselves as pack leader, your pet will take on that role for themselves. This leaves you living in a household where a dog is in charge – and that is not a good situation for anyone to be in!

Once you have established your leadership status, it will be a lot easier for you to train your dog. A calm and respectful dog is also more popular. They will get a lot of praise from people for their good behavior and dogs love this. You will also be able to let your dog go to more places because you know that you can trust them to follow rules and behave. Respectful dogs are happier and more confident because they know what the boundaries are. Without boundaries, there can be no control.

Dog Respect Training

You must first learn how to assert dominance over your dog. This does not mean that you become a bully. Your pet must trust and love you and feel safe also. Never punish your dog for bad behavior. This will just make your dog fearful of people and could make them aggressive.

It is much easier to train a new puppy so start this early. Keep all of your training sessions short – a maximum of 10 or 15 minutes. You shouldn’t have any interruptions so that you can give your dog your undivided attention. Dogs always respond well to food treats so have some with you. A spray bottle of water can also be useful. A quick squirt of water is a great deterrent if they break the rules.

Respect based dog training can be a part of your obedience training. When you teach your dog the basic commands, you can also teach them respectful behavior. Here are some ideas:

Walking to heel

This is where your leadership is important. Your dog must know how to walk nicely to heel if they respect you. Take your dog for a walk around your familiar neighborhood. Lead your dog with a treat. You should be the one that sets the pace and not your dog. If they pull on the leash, stop until it goes slack and then start again. When you have your dog’s respect, they will follow you with their eyes and stick to your side.

Behavior towards other dogs or humans

When you are walking with your dog on a leash and another dog or human approaches, your dog should look at you to see how they should react. As pack leader, you are in control of the situation no matter what distractions are around. They should not run up to greet other people without your permission to do so.

Behavior around food

This will be one of the hardest parts of training for some dogs. They should never jump for treats. If you reward them for doing this, they will never learn that this behavior is not acceptable. Always reward good behavior only.

A group of dogs listen to the commands of the dog trainer

How to Be a Pack Leader

You need to be the pack leader so you need to know how to be alpha dog. To do this you need a set of rules established right away. It easier to do this with a young dog but there are special training techniques for older dogs too. Here are some ideas that will work.

1. No freebies

Your dog has to earn everything that they get. Only give them a treat or praise if they have earned it. Treats and your attention should never be demanded.

2. Control the food

Food is very important to pack animals. As the leader, you are in charge of which dogs get food and when. They should not eat until you give the commands that mean they can approach their bowl. A whistle can be very useful for teaching them this. They cannot eat until they hear the whistle.

3. Control access to toys 

Dog’s toys are another way of rewarding them but you are always in control. If they become possessive about their toys you should remove them until they learn respect.

4. Stay calm

A calm and silent leader is always most effective. People who get angry and shout a lot do not earn the love and respect of dogs.

5. Make them move

If you are walking around your home and your dog is in your way, they should move out of the way. You may have to shuffle into them a few times to help your dog realize that these are the rules.

6. Do not allow jumping up

If you are going to take your dog with you to meet people, they must not greet them by jumping up. This is rude and the alpha should not allow the dogs in their pack to do it.

7. Don’t sit below them

For dogs, hierarchy is a physical thing. Never sit on the floor whilst your dog is on the sofa. They will immediately assume that they are the boss because they are higher up.

8. Be careful with playing sessions

Play sessions are great fun for you and your dog but it must be you that initiates it. Do not give in to nagging. When playing, you are in charge of the rules and the toys. Retrieving games that use dummies make it easier for you to stay in control. When you decide play time is over, it ends.

9. Make sure that they come back

Recall is a critical command. When your dog is not on a leash, they should trot nicely by your side unless you tell them that they can run around. We have more details on how to train your dog to walk off the leash in another post.

10. No biting

If your dog bites you, give a sharp verbal rebuke and then completely withdraw your attention. Do not even make eye contact.

How to Become the Alpha Dog with Your Puppy

Respect training for puppies needs to start as soon as you get them back home. Part of respect training is getting your new pup to love you and feel comfortable when you are around. As pack leader, you must always keep them safe. So, if you notice that another dog is making them feel nervous, step in between them and the other dog. You are teaching your pup that you are their protector. Some nervous dogs can become aggressive and if this happens you may need to use a muzzle.

With pups, you can play the mama dog role. You can pick them up by the scruff and say ‘no’ in a calm but firm voice. Without basic commands, you cannot control your pup and you will not be regarded as the alpha. Therefore teach them to come when they are called, to walk nicely on the leash without pulling, and to sit, stay and lie down when you say the command. Sit is the first command that most pups learn and a clicker can be very useful in the early days. Give plenty of praise and they should soon get the hang of it. If you find that you need some help with training your dog, there are plenty of dog training books that can help. You could also consult a professional dog trainer.

Now that you are the leader of the pack, you will enjoy your dog’s company even more!

Sharon is a Ph.D. scientist and experienced pet content writer. As a life-long animal lover, she now shares her family home with three rabbits, a Syrian hamster, and a Cockapoo puppy. She has a passion for researching accurate and credible information about pets and turning it into easy-to-understand articles that offer practical tips. When it comes to our furry friends, she knows that there is always something new to learn!

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