Too many people believe you must dominate or be the Alpha dog in the home to co-exist happily with their companion pet. You may have heard that in order to prevent your dog from becoming dominant that you had to: 1) always go through doorways first, 2) always eat before your dog, 3) never allow the dog on furniture where they might be elevated above you, 4) never allow the dog to sleep on your bed, 5) always punish your dog for stealing or chewing things that belong to you, 6) push your dog away when they jump up or paw at you, and 7) never let your dog walk in front of you. You may think that you have to be ever vigilant and that you have to do whatever it takes to show your dog that you are the boss in order to prevent him from taking over your home and becoming disobedient and even possibly aggressive.
I believe it is important to build a trusting relationship with our pets while helping them understand that when they comply, we make life really good for them, including helping them feel safe. If a dog is successful in a behavior, it will be repeated, not because it is dominant but because it has learned the behavior is rewarding. So it is important to establish a clear understanding in the dogs mind how to live in a humans world. Not by dominating, scaring, or threatening, but by helping them cope with the humans and environment they live in.
I believe a lot of smart dogs learn to train their owners, again, not because they are dominating them but because we the humans Spoil them!! I also believe it is never too late to improve the relationship with your pet by rewarding good behavior, and therefore reinforcing good habits!
For more Positive Reinforcement tips, check out Canine Behavior Counseling on Facebook!