Who’s the Boss? You or Your Dog?

100 years ago, most dogs were not even allowed in the house.  farmdogThey were kept as outside animals and probably slept under the porch or in the barn.  More affluent people may have had a lapdog, but farmers and working people had dogs that were expected to work to earn their keep. It might have been by herding stock, protecting the property or by killing rodents—but they had a job, they did it, or they weren’t kept around.

In today’s society, most dogs are kept as pets and are often treated almost as if they are humans.  We have grown to love our animals so much, that this is not really surprising.  However, it can be a little confusing for the dog.  Instead of having a clear-cut job, with distinct boundaries, she finds herself caught somewhere between being a canine, a pet, or almost human.  When those lines are blurred, a dog may begin to challenge its owner because it no longer respects the owner as a leader.  This challenge occasionally manifests itself as aggression toward humans.

Many owners allow their dogs to sleep with them in the same bed.  There are millions of dogs who sleep with their owners and it never results in a problem.  However, if a problem does begin to surface, and your dog is beginning to show aggression, experienced dog trainers agree that the place to begin curbing this behavior is by removing bed privileges.  Just by making your dog sleep on the floor, in a crate or in another room, you will be making a point.  The mere physical adjustment of you being on the bed, up higher than your dog will be a loud message.

Additionally, you will have to return to the basics.  Your dog needs to be reminded that she is still a dog and that you are the leader.  Being allowed in your bed is a privilege, not a right.  Along with losing bed privileges, you will need to lower her status in other ways.  For instance, your dog should not enter a room before you do.  Entering before you is another sign that your dog is beginning to think that her status is higher than yours.

You simply need to re-establish who is boss.  Don’t put yourself in danger by forcing the issue, but instead adjust in small ways, how you interact with your pet.  For instance, you can work on some obedience.  Teach your dog to sit before receiving her dinner.  You could even feed her one kibble at a time.  She needs to be reminded that you are the one who controls the food and everything else in her life.  Have her sit at the door before she is allowed to go out.  Small lessons will soon remind her that she is dependent on your for the good things in her life.

If your dog is having issues with aggression, you may find that she has problems with giving things up like toys or food.  Guarding is another form of aggression that needs to be dealt with.  If you feel that these behaviors are presenting a danger or if making small changes doesn’t seem to help, do not hesitate to consult a professional dog trainer.  Aggression can develop into a serious problem and should not be allowed to continue.

There is no hard and fast rule that says you should or should not allow your dog to sleep in your bed.  Many owners allow their dogs in their beds and have never had a problem.  The most important thing is that you and your dog have a relationship that you both can live with.  That should never include aggression.


7 Responses

  1. […] Who’s the Boss? You or Your Dog? (Aug 28) “100 years ago, most dogs were not even allowed in the house.  They were kept as outside animals and probably slept under the porch or in the barn.” […]

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