Does Your Dog Respect You as a Pack Leader? Know the Signs

A golden retriever.

Human food is safe for humans, but it is not always the case for your dog (Image: Caleb Fisher via Unsplash)

Most dog owners want a calm and assertive dog. But how do you get to that point? It is not something that happens overnight. The key is to keep the right energy with your dog and have your dog respect you as its pack leader.

The first mistake you can make as a dog owner is thinking of your dog as a cute and furry human. A dog is so far very from being a human, and treating him as such not only leads your dog to act out at home, it can encourage him to develop dangerous or intimidating behaviors.

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Hints your dog does not think you are the pack leader

Owning a dog, in my opinion, is a big responsibility, as you need your dog to be safe and sociable around you and others. In essence, your dog should be recessive, calm, and looking to take orders from you at all times. If this is not happening, and the dog is not respecting you as a pack leader, there is work that you need to do and habits that need to be broken.

Here are some signs that your dog doesn’t consider you as its pack leader:

  • Your dog snarls, growls, or snaps at you if you try to move it off the couch or bed.
  • Your dog curls up on the couch or bed uninvited.
  • Your dog snatches food from your plate or from your hands.
  • Your dog does not listen to you when you call it; it will not obey orders to sit or stay.
  • Your dog pushes past you when passing through a doorway or gate; it does not wait for your command.
  • Your dog has annoying behaviors that you don’t like, but that you put up with — such as scratching the door, barking at you, or nudging you to pet it.
Does your dog respect you as a pack leader?
Learning how to be a leader for your dog is an empowering journey, particularly if being the boss is not a role you are used to filling. (Image: Lukas Blazek via Dreamstime)

Becoming a pack leader

Learning how to be a pack leader for your dog is an empowering journey, particularly if being the boss is not a role you are used to filling. In the beginning, changing your actions and attitudes may feel like you are being harsh and cruel toward your dog. But have you ever seen the way dogs communicate with each other? It’s pretty black and white. There is no democracy in the hierarchy of dogs.

This video explains how the hierarchy should be in your home in order for there to be harmony between you, your family, and your dog:

The reward for this new approach is enjoying a closer, more reliant companion. Your household will feel calmer, less chaotic, and you will again be in control — as you should be. Your dog will be obedient and will seek affection and reassurance from you.

Feel like a pack leader

To get into the mind of a pack leader, you need to exude the confidence of a “boss.” Dogs are expert body-language readers; show them with your body who’s in charge.

  • Stand tall and proud. Think: I know who I am, I am assertive.
  • Relax your body. Think: This is my place, I make the decisions, I take my time.
  • Be aware of your stomach and heart. Think: I am strong and deep, I am unshakable, I am the true leader, I can be trusted.

On a final note, I must drill home one most important fact: Dogs need a pack leader; either you assume that role, or they will.

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