If you are reading this article, then it’s likely you have concerns about your dog’s behavior. Something that underpins how well your dog acts around you is whether or not he respects you. A respectful dog is usually one that is well mannered and listens to training commands. Let’s explore this idea a bit further and look at what both respect and disrespect might look like on a day-to-day basis.
How to tell if your dog respects you
1. Your dog doesn’t pull on his leash
No one enjoys being dragged along on a walk! If your dog walks nicely to heel and doesn’t pull excessively, then he is treating you with respect. If your dog is well-mannered enough to listen to your commands and walk nicely by your side, then this is a very good sign.
Dogs that are distracted and focused on other things (like getting to their destination quickly) are not being respectful. Small dogs seem to get away with this behavior a lot more than large dogs, but it still shouldn’t be overlooked. Don’t forget, though, that young dogs and dogs in training need to practice their skills before being expected to perform them in distracting situations.
2. Your dog brings you toys/prey
Bringing you gifts can be a sign that your dog respects you. Dogs that do this tend to be people-pleasers and are keen to show you how much they like you. Bringing you toys or bedding is a common way of showing that you’re part of the family. Some dogs may take it a step further and bring you things like prey they have caught or found.
3. Your dog listens to commands
As with people, listening to someone is one of the most respectful things you can do. So, if your dog is paying attention to you and following your commands this is an excellent sign. Puppies and younger dogs can get easily distracted, so may be less able to concentrate than older dogs. You should praise your dog any time he listens and follows a command successfully, to reward his good behavior.
Don’t forget that a dog isn’t born understanding human language and commands – he learns when you reward his behavior – so it’s not disrespect if he’s not responding to a command he’s not familiar with.
4. Your dog avoids your seat
Rude dogs tend to climb all over sofas and will more than happily sit in your favorite seat. A dog that looks up to you will make sure he stays out of your chair so that you can sit there, or will move immediately if asked. Allowing dogs on the furniture can send mixed messages and cause confusion when they visit people’s houses, so encouraging your dog to his bed on the floor might be easier.
5. Your dog seeks protection from you
If your dog looks to you for protection and reassurance then he probably sees you as a good leader. This means he respects you and looks to you for guidance. Reversing this, a dog that is protective of you may see you as weak and vulnerable, but you may also have been inadvertently rewarding his protective behaviors. This could cause issues if he starts guarding you and becomes aggressive to others that approach you.
6. Your dog follows you
If your dog follows your lead then he is being respectful. Dogs that barge through doorways first or bound out of the car without looking back are not paying you enough attention. Some dogs will follow you around the house, which to a certain degree is ok. If, however, they won’t leave your side at all then you may have another issue on your hand in the form of separation anxiety.
Dogs with separation anxiety become very stressed, sometimes even when you only pop to the toilet. This behavior may need intervention to stop it from escalating.
7. Your dog respects their food schedule and doesn’t take your food
If he is snatching food from you, begging, or whining when you eat, then this is a sign that your dog has been rewarded for these behaviors in the past. Many people see this behavior as rude and disrespectful.
Try not to reward this behavior by giving him tidbits from the table. He should wait until his own meal is served to him. Asking your dog to sit and wait whilst you prepare their food helps to teach them patience.
8. Your dog displays signs he is relaxed and happy around you
A happy, friendly, and relaxed dog is usually a respectful dog. These animals are often eager to please and keen to learn. If you’re struggling with fearfulness or aggression, it may be worth consulting with a qualified animal behaviorist to look for positive ways to improve your dog’s confidence, helping him learn his place in the world.
9. Your dog lets you groom him
A dog that allows you to groom him is being respectful. If your dog attacks the brush, growls, or pulls away, then they aren’t comfortable with the situation they’re in. Some dogs love being groomed, whereas others tolerate it, but either way a respectful dog will sit there and allow you to do what needs to be done. If your dog isn’t tolerating it – or even if they are! – try to make the experience fun for them by adding treats and rewards throughout.
10. Your dog lets you leave the room first and lets you choose where to sit
Similar to earlier points, a respectful dog will look to you for guidance. A rude dog will barge, and rush ahead. They might jump onto sofas ahead of you and won’t be conscious of what your needs are. Of course, this all comes down to training – if you’ve allowed these behaviors in the past, or inadvertently rewarded them, your dog is going to continue them until a new behavior is trained.
How to discern a dog’s respect through its body language
A respectful dog pays you attention, by looking in your direction and listening. Tail wagging and eager-to-please body language is another good sign. A respectful dog may also come to you with a toy or other gift in his mouth and is ready to engage with you.
Respectful dogs will not be pulling you on the lead and will follow you around the house rather than barging ahead. These dogs will see you as their leader and look to you for advice and guidance. Respectful dogs are happy that they know their place and don’t feel anxious or confused.
Ways you may be creating disrespect
While personality can have an impact on how respectful a dog is or not, training goes an awful long way as well. Some breeds are easier to train than others, so when choosing a dog make sure you pick a breed that is appropriate for your status (novice vs. experienced pet parent).
You could inadvertently cause your dog to become disrespectful by accidentally rewarding bad behavior. For instance, if he gets cuddles when he jumps up as a puppy, he’ll continue to do so as an adult. Many people find this behavior rude.
Your dog should only receive treats when he does the right thing. Giving him a treat at random or after he does something wrong could confuse him.
Keep training positive
Training should be a positive process. Yelling at your dog could cause them to become stressed and anxious. Messages about the correct thing to do could be lost in the process. Yelling can also be seen as a form of attention by some dogs, thereby accidentally rewarding naughty behaviors. This can all lead to a confused and possibly disrespectful dog. Instead, you need to give plenty of rewards when the right behavior is shown.
When training your dog make sure all family members are consistent and are giving the same messages. This will help to keep things clear and let your dog know what’s expected of him at all times.
Ways your dog will demonstrate disrespect
A disrespectful dog does not follow commands, ignores you, and continues to do his own thing. This could include pulling on the leash, not listening to recall commands, and not sitting when you tell him to. It is not uncommon for puppies and young dogs to be a bit more this way inclined but as they mature things should improve, as long as you are giving the right training.
Remember, dogs need to practice new commands in a quiet, stress-free environment before being expected to try them ‘in the field’. You wouldn’t like to sit a maths exam without having time to practice the subject, would you?
Aggression is a complex behavior that can be caused by several things. However, aggressive dogs are potentially dangerous and so this behavior needs dealing with as soon as possible to keep everyone safe. Conflict is not a good sign—dogs should be happy and keen to please their pet parents.
Other disrespectful behaviors
Some dogs may show other disrespectful behaviors like urinating in the house, and scent marking in inappropriate locations. Stealing food, lying on the sofa or bed when they aren’t supposed to, and barging in front of you are all signs your dog is behaving rudely.
However, dogs that haven’t been taught where to toilet, or dogs that are ill can make mistakes – it’s worth having a look at your training regime and looking for mixed messages before becoming upset.
What can you do?
If you have concerns about your dog’s behavior, you shouldn’t just live with it and you certainly shouldn’t let it escalate. Consider attending training classes to help with obedience and socialization. If you feel you need one-on-one help, then a qualified animal behaviorist or dog trainer may be a good investment.
Respectful dogs are a pleasure to be around and will be keen to keep their pet parents happy. This usually comes about through appropriate training, which means putting some time and effort in and making sure all the family is involved. The rewards for this are great though, as a disrespectful dog can be antisocial and cause all sorts of stress. If you need help with any aspect of training your dog, then make sure you reach out to local training classes or a behaviorist sooner rather than later.