“My dog doesn’t respect me”

by Myrto Anthypatopoulou

You’ve probably heard this comment from other dog guardians or have maybe even made the remark yourself. Perhaps you’ve been angry when your dog was “disobedient” and put you in a difficult position by not fulfilling one of your commands. He doesn’t come when you ask him, he doesn’t stop digging / barking / eating from the ground or pulling on his leash. There are several reasons why this can occur with a healthy dog, but his level of respect isn’t one of them.

Comparing human behavior patterns with those of a dog is misguided and based on the faulty projection of our own values ​​in dogs. In fact, a dog thinks in a much simpler way; the concept of respect has never crossed his mind and it doesn’t even exist in his cognitive system. Dogs simply think: “What you ask of me works / doesn’t work and is safe / unsafe”. Their behavior , therefore, depends on whether they want something to happen (it works and it is safe) or not (it doesn’t work / is unsafe).

For example, your dog walks around the yard after rain and sniffs around, something that is a lot of fun for him. When you call him to come in, he may stop for a few seconds, look you in the eye and weigh his options: should I go inside where it’s boring, or should I stay here and explore all these smells? All dogs would opt to stay out and have fun, as this works best for them. You’d also rather stay outside if you were not offered a more fun pastime instead, so why blame the dog for making the same choice?

The key word in this case is motivation, which is a very common concept in dogs and humans: you may like your job, but if your salary goes down or you stop getting paid, you will stop doing it. Similarly, most dogs like to work, but will not waste energy doing something that isn’t rewarding. Instead, they prefer to take a siesta in the sun, digging, running and discovering new smells, or hanging out with other dogs in the park. If we want our dog to “work” for us, or otherwise obey, we must offer him something stronger and more attractive than what he’s already engaged in. It’s your job to discover what that is and to bring it about, until the reward history is so established that your dog will follow the commands automatically.

Obedience, in fact, is a matter of motivation and trust. Before you get angry with your dog, ask yourself: Have I given him the right motivation to carry out the order? Have I made sure he considers what I ask him to do safe? If not, re-work the commands so that they are combined with a scheme that works and is safe. That is, motivate your dog by offering something he loves and boost his confidence in you, until he feels that nothing you ask of him will put him in danger.

Don’t be disappointed, be gentle with yourself and don’t give up! The road to a healthy relationship of trust and communication is not straightforward and may have obstacles you did not anticipate, but once you get past them, it will be very rewarding for both you and your four-legged companion.

Source: dogpositive.gr/category/συμπεριφορά/

My name is Myrto Anthypatopoulou and I am a force free dog trainer, aiming to help dogs and their families to build a harmonious relationship based on communication and trust. You can find me on my site www.dogpositive.gr and on social media as Dog Positive Dogtraining.