Winning a dog's respect is typically not a complicated matter—though it does take persistence. Dogs are naturally loyal and they inherently understand a certain need for authority structure. However, just as in human relationships, you have to give respect to get respect. If you treat dogs with respect, kindness, and use positive reinforcement, they will trust you and view you as someone worthy of following.
Happy Equals Respect
In the canine world, a dog who's happy to see you is a dog who respects you. Happily wagging tail, playful energy and relaxed ears are typical signs of a dog who respects you. A respectful dog also obeys your commands to sit, stay or come to you happily and without hesitation. And he will be relaxed and submissive when you brush him or check for fleas or ticks.
Dogs convey their emotions and intentions through their posture and body language. A happy, respectful dog shows a relaxed posture -- no tension in the muscles, fur that sits naturally and is not raised, and relaxed tail and facial expressions. A dog showing deference will make himself look smaller to convey that he is not a threat. He will also turn his head and avoid eye contact if you scold him.
"Please, After You"
A sure sign your dog respects you is that she will let you reach the door or the other room first. A dog who consistently races ahead of you or stands in your way may not respect your authority. A respectful dog also always lets the leader choose where to sit. If your dog refuses to give up the couch when you want to sit, she may be challenging your authority.
You May Be Creating Disrespect
Dogs respect those who respect them, but if you are too deferential to your dog, you are likely to create a sense of disrespect in him. If, for example, he is lying in your way, stepping over him rather than telling him to move sends the message that you are more in his way. Or if you shower him with treats for doing nothing you are telling him that you are there to serve him.
By Scott Morgan
About the Author
Scott Morgan is an award-winning reporter and editor who has covered central New Jersey since 2001. He has worked with the Princeton Packet Newsgroup, US 1 Publishing, "Unique Homes Magazine" and Community News Service. Morgan also serves as a professional speaker and teacher. He holds a bachelor's degree in humanities from Thomas Edison State College.