Ah… dogs, beautiful creatures of drool, fur, expressive eyes, and curious personalities. When you find the right dog, you wonder how you ever managed to go through the day without stroking, hugging, and talking with him. However, when dogs are not behaving as they should, it can be more of a chore than a joy. When your dog begins to treat you like his equal, that’s when you need to pay attention. Something has switched in his brain, something that told him that you are on his level or he is on yours. It’s quite interesting, but dogs have a susceptible understanding of human behavior. They sometimes convert our behavior cues into how dogs behave. This can sometimes mean, they begin to see you as a rival or a subordinate and not the leader, owner, and bringer of food and water.
How does this happen?
The sad truth of the matter is, a dog will take advantage of your weakness if you treat them as normal. For example, if you allow your dog on the sofa when you would rather not then you have an issue. If you try to move your dog off the sofa with verbal demands, then physically try to move them, but then you give up (because you’re tired from work, etc), they will see that as a win. Once your dog has one over you, they believe that it is possible to win against you. The next time you try to get your dog off the sofa, he will know, if he can just stick it out, ignore you, growl or bark, and you will stop and go away, he will try his chances.
This is how it happens. You lose one battle, prepare to lose a few more.
What do you look like to him?
So if your dog sees you as his equal, what do you actually appear to him? He sees you as a rival and a member of the pack. This is why you often see dogs that are friends, sometimes play rough, and test each other. They want to see who is stronger and who could dominate the other if it came to it. The dominant one would get the most food and mating rights in the wild.
You are someone who should not get more than him, if you have something he is entitled to his share. If you are sitting on a chair he wants, he doesn’t understand why you are on something that should be his. It is as confusing to him as it is to you.
So should you be tedious?
You might be throwing up your hands now, ‘so should I just be tedious and never give in?’ Yes. you cannot for one single second, allow your dog to do something you don’t want him to do. If you thought getting a pet was easy, wrong. You have to set the ground rules, and it can sometimes take weeks, months, and even a year or so.
Dogs will try to poke the perimeter. They will occasionally try to test you and see if you are worth or not being their leader. Sometimes they will sense weakness and try to take advantage of you. How long does this last? About 1-2 years when they first come home with you. This is normal by the way, as dogs are just like humans, they have to get used to something before they can accept it as normal. So never give in, no matter how long it takes, and get your dog off the sofa the second he jumps on it.
A different relationship
It’s vital to remember, you and your dog are not just friends, you are owner and beast. It’s key to think of your relationship, as that and no more. You cannot think of yourselves as you do friendships between humans. It’s a different kind of relationship, but what kind?
You are responsible for his diet, his health, enjoyment i.e. toys, walks, play, but also how he interacts with other humans and dogs. In a sense, you are kind of like his guardian or parent. You should not be possessive and allow him to explore and enjoy the home and park, but you should give him the boundaries which he obeys even when you are not there. In a sense, you are responsible for creating a pack culture that he adheres to naturally. It’s one of the reasons why so many pet owners want to adopt a puppy and not a fully grown dog. It’s easier to train them to get used to your expectations of his behavior when that is all he knows.
So what should I do?
If your dog is treating you like an equal, the only thing you should try is to give him the best dog training. The professional trainer will arrive at your home, observe how you and your dog interact, and then make a training plan. The best thing is, you will be doing the training, not the trainer. This is because the dog has to learn commands from you and this will be part of his learning process that registers in his memory bank. When he learned something, you taught him. This is useful for the future when you need him to learn something new.
The trainer will be right there with you, of course, they won’t just give you a booklet of things to try by yourself. Your dog will be taught how to behave and why things are not his. There is a lot of work for you to do as well, as you need to start behaving like the owner and leader. Your dog will recognize your shift in behavior and instantly know that you are dominant.
If your dog is treating you like an equal, it can only end in one thing; a challenge to your position. This is what they would do in the wild, and they will do the same with you. So start changing your behavior now, be more demanding and firm, and start showing him you are his leader not an equal.