This seems to be a recurring theme around here lately. Owner after owner bringing dogs in with behavioral issues ranging from fear, to anxiety, to aggression, and the common thread that runs through almost all the cases is the apparent lack of respect between the dogs and their humans.
Note that I didn’t say “The apparent dis-respect“. There is a difference.
To me, disrespect would imply that the dog knows what it means to be respectful, and is choosing to disregard that knowledge in favor of his or her own agenda.
Lack of respect means that the humans never taught the dog what it means to be respectful to begin with. Sometimes because they didn’t know how, sometimes because they didn’t try.
So what does it mean for a dog to be respectful? For the purposes of this discussion, we can say that Respect is the adherence to well established rules and boundaries, and the appropriate response to pressure. Pressure here can mean physical pressure (leash, touch, electronic collar), social pressure (eye contact, forward body language, claiming space or yielding), or what I call achievement pressure which is the pressure we all feel when there is something which we strongly want to achieve and we have to figure out how to do it. This last one takes the form of respect building when the item or event that the dog wants to achieve is controlled by the human, such as a treat or the activity of going outside.
Think about it. Have you taught your dog what it means to be respectful? Have you established boundaries and rules? Will your dog respond appropriately to all three forms of motivating pressure?
If your dog is displaying inappropriate behavior, and you have not taken the time to teach your dog what it means to be respectful, it’s never too late to start. She might surprise you with just how well she can follow rules once she know what they are.