You’ve likely heard there’s an alpha dog in every group that other dogs respect. And as much as you love your dog, their constant desire to be at your side or to whine when they don’t get their way isn’t practical or healthy.
So, if you’re at your wit’s end, you might wonder how to get your dog to respect you. There are many ways to get your dog to respect you, including protecting them from scary things, comforting them, and setting (and sticking to) rules.
I’ve been in your shoes with needing to get a dog to respect you. So, I’ll give you actionable strategies for becoming the alpha in your dog’s “pack.”
A Background on Alpha Behavior
Despite the popularity of the term “alpha” when talking about a dog’s behavior, scientists argue it’s misleading. That’s because the concept of being an alpha in a pack of dogs came about from observing wolves in captivity.
The researchers in this study noted that the wolves competed with each other and would become aggressive as they fought to find a place on the social totem pole.
The moral of the story is that “alpha” and “dominance” often go hand-in-hand in the modern-day thought process. But getting your dog to respect you with that mindset is a disservice to them, as building a trusting and safe environment will cause them to respect you more.
8 Ways To Get Your Dog To Respect You
Below are the best ways you can get your dog to respect you. Some of the items on this list will likely surprise you. So, snuggle up to your dog and get ready to understand their thought process for respect.
1. Meet Their Basic Needs
Believe it or not, meeting your dog’s basic needs is foundational to getting them to respect you. I know what you’re thinking—but I always feed my dog plenty of food, and they have a roof over their head!
And while that’s true, meeting your dog’s basic needs goes beyond giving them food, water, and shelter.
For example, do you feed your dog at consistent times, or do they sometimes have to wait for you to get home from a long work meeting? By showing your dog that you’re 100% reliable to meet their basic needs, they’ll feel more comfortable and have more respect for you.
2. Protect Them From Scary Things
Even if your dog is a watchdog breed, no dog is immune to becoming scared. And when that happens, they want to know they can rely on you to save them from the squirrel in the bushes or stranger that walks into your home.
It’s especially easy to gain respect from dogs by comforting them from scary things if your dog suffers from anxiety. That said, you might want to seek the support of a dog trainer or therapist to help your dog manage their anxiety.
By reassuring your dog by talking with them in a loving voice and petting or cuddling them, they’ll feel safer and grow to respect you more.
3. Sign Them Up for an Obedience Class
Training your dog is essential for getting them to respect you, and signing them up for an obedience class is an excellent approach.
By taking an obedience class, you’ll learn positive reinforcement techniques that will teach you how to balance being firm and encouraging with your dog. The result is an emotionally positive experience for your pet that will help them bond with and respect you.
Some of the most common commands to teach your dog include:
- Lie down
The idea behind positive reinforcement training is to use treats or toys to reward good behavior instead of punishing bad behavior.
4. Ensure They Have Adequate Exercise
Consistently keeping your dog in a small space for their size could lead them to resent you rather than respect you. For this reason, you must ensure you give your dog plenty of exercise time to help them build respect (and a healthier mind and body).
The length and intensity of exercise depend on several factors, including your dog’s age and breed. But generally speaking, adult dogs should have a minimum of 30 to 60 minutes of daily exercise.
Ideally, you should break up their exercise into at least two sessions. You should also try to get them outdoors and switch up their activities to keep their minds engaged.
5. Make Rules
If you’re wondering how to get your dog to respect you, making rules—and sticking to them—is highly effective.
The rules you set are entirely up to you, as long as they’re humane. Examples of rules that dog owners make in their homes are:
- No jumping on furniture
- You exit a door before they do
- No begging for food
If other people are living in your home, ensure everyone is aware of and on board with the rules. Otherwise, your dog will get mixed signals if one family member cuddles with them during a Netflix session on the couch and another person reprimands the dog for doing the same.
6. Use Consistency
Dogs are intelligent animals and love routine. So, if they don’t see you as a reliable source of giving them consistent rules, feeding schedules, and an exercise routine, they could start to disrespect you.
Not only does inconsistency spark disrespect, but your dog could develop negative behaviors. Most of the time, that happens when they’re trying to get your attention.
So, even if you’ve had a bad day of work and would love a snuggle on the couch with your dog, hold yourself back from doing so if you’ve made the couch a no-no for them. Instead, find a workaround such as sliding to the floor and cuddling with them there.
7. Make Them Earn Treats
Treats should be just that—a treat. Not only is rationing out treats healthier for your dog to prevent obesity, but it will also make the treat more special.
If you start giving your dog treats multiple times a day when they haven’t done anything, they’ll begin to expect you to do so whenever they stand by the treat drawer or whine or paw at you.
Even though you’ll make your dog happy at the moment by giving them a treat, the long-term effect is that they’ll begin disrespecting you by expecting them.
So, save treats for training, and when your dog behaves well so they can link it to receiving a treat.
8. Give Them Space
You might laugh at this one if you have a dog that stays pegged to your side whenever you’re home. But in many cases, even the most loyal dogs enjoy a little space, especially when they want to sleep.
When setting up your dog’s space to sleep, ensure it’s in a quiet environment and keep it consistent; if you move their bed throughout your house, they’ll believe they rule the roost.
Respecting your dog’s space when they want alone or sleep time will cause them to respect you more.
What Not To Do When Trying To Earn a Dog’s Respect?
A part of knowing how to get your dog to respect you is understanding what not to do.
You should never verbally or physically abuse your dog to get them to respect you. Doing so will only make them afraid of you and show fear instead of respect.
Even when your dog isn’t showing you respect, you must remain calm and consistent with whatever you’re asking from them.
Positive reinforcement techniques have become popular because they’re effective at getting your dog to do what you ask while showing them love and affection.
Are You Ready To Have Your Dog Respect You?
It’s easy to fall into the thought trap that your dog is too set in its ways to get them to respect you. But I’ve seen incredible transformations by implementing the strategies here.
If you only take away one lesson from this article, let it be this: Dogs respect those who respect them.
So, by going above and beyond by meeting their needs, showering them with love, and training them with positive reinforcement techniques, your dog will respect you in no time.