Teaching your dog respect training is easy – here’s how

Trying to teach your dog how to obey your commands can be an uphill battle. If your dog doesn’t respect you, then chances are good that they won’t want to listen to you, either. Once your dog recognizes you as pack alpha, you’ll be able to lay down the rules and have your dog jump to follow your orders — no yelling or pleading necessary.

Teach your dog what’s allowed and what isn’t

Four puppies on a pink background.
Goochie Poochie Grooming/Pexels

Teaching a puppy respect training is easier and takes less time than teaching an older dog, but it is possible. The first step you need to take is teaching your dog simple obedience. Find a spot where you can work on obedience training for 10-15 minutes a day without any interruptions. Spending any longer than 15 minutes pushes the boundaries of your dog’s attention span too far, so they won’t really pay attention after that.

You’ll need some of your dog’s food or favorite treats, a leash, and a spray bottle filled with water to correct bad behavior without harming your dog. If you’re teaching your dog to heel, tell them “heel” and lead them with a treat while keeping hold of the leash. You can give it a gentle tug to encourage your dog to follow, but don’t yank on the leash.

Discipline bad behavior

When you’re training your dog, it’s the best time to teach them not to jump when they see food. If your dog jumps for their treat during training, firmly tell them “no” and give them a quick squirt of water to teach them not to jump on you. When your dog follows your command to heel without jumping, give them a treat and lots of attention as a reward for good behavior.

This works for teaching your dog to sit, stay, roll over, or any trick you want to teach them. Never spray your dog directly in the eyes, nose, or mouth, but make sure you get their attention, so they learn that being naughty and rambunctious results in getting sprayed.

Make sure your dog feels protected

Some dogs are anxious, and in order for your dog to respect you, they also need to trust you. Make sure your dog feels calm and safe when you’re out for walks. If you notice your dog is nervous around other dogs, make sure you stay between your dog and others. Always maintain the position of pack alpha, so that your dog knows who’s in charge.

If your dog is frightened of loud sounds, give them a quick cuddle and lots of love. This will help them feel safe in the moment, and it will further cement the idea that you’re the one in the protector role. When your dog feels safe with you, they’ll also feel safe to follow your commands without trying to take the lead.

Be firm and consistent, but never be aggressive

Yelling at your dog is the human equivalent of barking at them. Teaching your dog to respond with aggression will only make them feel the need to assert their dominance, which is the opposite of what you want. Be consistent in your training. If you scold them with a spray of water when they jump on you once, you need to make sure to do it every single time they jump.

If you’re training a puppy, you may want to take a page from a mama dog’s book and scruff them. Picking up a puppy by the scruff of their neck and firmly telling them “no” is an effective training technique that doesn’t harm your puppy.

As your dog ages, you can still grab them by the scruff as a means of establishing your position as pack alpha. Just make sure you’re gentle, and don’t try to pick up an adult dog this way, as it places too much weight on the neck.

Spend quality time together

One of the best ways to earn your dog’s respect is simply spending time together outside of training and playtime. Make sure your dog is happy and well-fed, and spend some quiet time together watching television or sitting outside. This teaches your dog they can relax with you, and it’s a great bonding experience.

How do you tell if your dog is trying to dominate you?

Respect training establishes your position as pack alpha. If your dog hasn’t learned their lesson yet, they may try to guard you from other dogs — even other members of your household — demand playtime by placing toys at your feet after you’ve told them “no,” or refuse to obey your commands. With time, effort, and patience, you can teach your dog to respect you, and these behaviors should stop.

Tan dog playing with a green ball.
Matthias Zomer

According to the American Kennel Club, the first five things you should teach your dog are:

  • Coming when they’re called
  • Good loose-leash behavior
  • How to sit
  • How to stay
  • How to lie down

Once your dog has mastered these five things, they’ll respect your commands, and you’ll be able to teach your dog any number of tricks. Respect training doesn’t have to be stressful. It takes patience, a few treats, and a bit of time, but it’s well worth it in the end. Your dog will feel happy and safe with you, and you’ll have a best friend who behaves.

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