Dogs are naturally pack animals. In a family situation with people, a dominant/pushy dog may “test” his place in the pack by asserting himself.  This may be done in subtle ways such as nudging your hand for petting, stealing objects or going out doors before you do.  More extreme ways he may assert himself  can be actions such as guarding resources such as food, toys or even people.

You, as the leader, should establish your position in the household by providing structure and boundaries for all dogs living with you.  Have clear and definite rules for your dogs to live by.  Examples can include  things such as your dog not being allowed on furniture until he is invited and he has to get off when asked; working for all attention or food (tricks or obedience commands like sit or down work great) to teaching your dog not to go through doors until released.  Always keep in mind what motivates your dog’s behavior.  Make sure he is living by YOUR rules and you’ll have a willing follower in your pack!


Feel like you need a relationship makeover with your dog?  Many times, behavior problems are created by the relationship issues between the dog and his owner. All too often, the owner feels that giving the dog treats, affection or allowing the dog to do as they like, is the answer to building a strong relationship and acquiring their dog’s love. WRONG!

Building rapport with your dog takes planning, setting definite boundaries, and reinforcing rules. What improves your relationship and rapport with your dog depends  on the current status of your relationship with your dog.  Read over the following and see if any ideas might help improve your relationship with your dog.

Mealtime. There are a lot of opportunities that can be associated with mealtimes. Your dog working for his food is a “biggy”. Take advantage of mealtimes to train a few skills or even modify a behavior. Plan feeding times with your dog before the bowl is filled. Once the meal is fixed, place the bowl on the counter and get to work. Pick new and exciting skills to test your dog’s knowledge and see how eager he becomes when working for his food!

Pick up the toys. Those toys belong to you! Your dog needs to look to you to provide the fun things in life. When you want your dog to play, select a few toys and use the toys to interact with your dog. Use this time to teach your dog to tug,  retrieve and  play with you!

Walkies”. Going for a structured walk with your dog is a great way to get exercise and spend some quality time with your dog. What is a structured walk? It is taking your dog on a “walk”. Setting a brisk pace with no stops and randomly throwing in some training along the way. Walks should be in a controlled position.  This means your dog walking next to you.  While it’s ok to stop for a potty break, it is not ok for your dog to sniff every blade of grass or pee on every tree. You set the pace and make the rules for the walk. What a great way to burn energy AND bond with your dog.

Crate time. Time apart is a GOOD thing!  Get the crate out of your bedroom, leave your dog home once in a while, and let them learn to stay without you. We don’t always have to be interacting and touching our dogs. Time apart will build your dog’s desire to be with you.  As a result, your dog will WORK harder when with you and give more effort to gain your attention.

Train! A busy dog is a happy dog. Providing mental stimulation is just as important as physical exercise. You would be surprised at how quickly a dog will become tired after a quick training session. Teach your dog to spin, crawl, sit or down or any other trick. Training of any kind will help mentally stimulate your dog.  Skills or tricks are great ways to get your dog’s mind working. A tired dog is a happy dog!

Structure and boundaries set foundations for a wonderful pet and companion.  Check the way you spend your time with your dog.  Are you adding to behavioral or training problems?  How is the rapport between you and your dog?  Anytime you have a problem with your dog, look at home life first!  

Here are a few really great “dog” items I use in everyday life and in training. Click on the link or image and it will take you to affiliate Amazon.

DebbyQ’s Picks

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