Dogs are pack animal, and you need to be the leader of your own family pack. Motorcycle, leathers and girly vocals are optional.
Dogs, like humans, are social creatures. Wild canids such as wolves, coyotes, hyenas, live in family groupings with a distinct hierarchy of leaders and subordinates. Dogs, descended from wild ancestors have retained this social programming. It’s part of what helps them fit so well into our own society.
Dogs are individuals; he will be shy or outgoing, a leader or a follower depending on his own personality. My first Belgian sheepdog loved 5 people on this planet, and the rest of the population wasn’t worth his time. He would be polite, but really didn’t care if strangers wanted to pet him or ignore him; he was aloof, indifferent to most everyone. My second Belgian, on the other hand, loved to meet people and everyone was his friend. He’d greet them with a big toothy smile and wagging tail. Both though, were very guarded and protective if a stranger came into the home.
Your dog will naturally look upon you and your spouse and kids as his pack, his own family group. A pack has a leader, who is at the top of the family hierarchy. The leader, or alpha, in wolves decides when the pack hunts, or moves, or sleeps or plays. The alpha makes the rules and calls the shots, and every other wolf defers to the alpha. If your dog does not perceive that you are alpha, he’ll assume the job himself. Does this sound like anyone’s dog?
The dog that growls and snaps when you try to shoo her off the couch, or take away her toy.
The dog that yanks and drags his owner at the end of the leash, lunging at every passerby, dog or human.
The dog that barks and snaps at you when you kiss your spouse.
If your dog thinks he’s alpha, then in his mind, he’s being a good leader for putting you in your place. Obviously, you’re an uppity pup telling him to give up his comfy nap spot, or take his toy, and so he gets to snap and tell you to back off. It’s his job to protect the pack, so he has to scare off every stranger by being big and fierce, and why are you yelling at him? He’s just doing his job! And get away from his ‘special’ human!
You need to establish that you hold the job of pack leader, and you are so good at it, that your dog never has to worry about trying to step in and fill your shoes. Body language, eye contact and tone of voice will all convey your confidence to your dog, and he will respond to it.
Are you the leader of your pack? Or does your dog run your house?