Dog Body Language Respecting and Catering the Difference

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Dog Body Language Respecting and Catering the Difference

by Rena Murray

For people who do not understand dog pack behavior, dog body language or the silent ?dog whisper? communication system, and dog pack structure, it is sometimes hard to know when you are respecting your dog or catering to him.

Let's be balanced. If my dog is eating, should I shove him out of the way when he is not doing anything to disturb me? Of course not. That, my friends, is a classic example of me disrespecting him.

Now, if I picked up a stray piece of food, or bent to drop a scrap into the dog's dish, and my dog growled or snapped at me ? THAT is a possessive warning by the dog that can escalate if not corrected. So THAT is a reason for me to "claim the food." If I do not correct my dog at that point, then I am submitting to him and making him powerful.

If a dog threatens me when he has a bone or a toy, I claim it and give it back when he has surrendered and respected me. However, my dog is free to grab his ball or bone and quietly chew and play with it as she pleases. She is also allowed to bring it over and drop it in front of me, but not to drop it on me or to push me. The respect toward you must be there when she has a possession, or she may use it to control you.

If my pooch whines when I am eating and I feed her, I have catered to her and created reinforcement of the whining behavior. What to do? Remove the dog to an assigned spot and make her stay quietly until dinner is over. If you wish to feed her, do so only with scraps in her dish or plates down in her food's place. Also, wait until activity has died down in the dining room. Now if your dog is scratching at the door, go over, claim the door, give him an assigned space to wait, and make him wait ? two seconds the first time, five seconds the next time, ten seconds the next, then twenty, thirty? a very slow increase. You do not let him in when he scratches at the door, or that is catering to him. You have to mix up the amount of time you make him wait, or you become predictable to him and he "cheats."

I have found that people cater to their animals for a number of reasons:

(1)They are afraid they will be seen as mean by the dog for disciplining it. They fear hurting the dog's feelings.

(2) Sometimes people are afraid or intimidated by the dog, especially if his form of tantrum is showing his teeth.

(3) A lot of times, people would rather take the easy way out and not put the time into the dog, because they do not want to. That is what we call laziness! This is the most common problem.

So do not be fooled by dog body language when it appears disruptive and possessive. Think, instead, of dog pack behavior and dog pack structure, and take your proper position as leader of the pack. Pay attention to what the dog is really telling you. Do not fail to deal with it, but do not overreact. It may not be possessive behavior at all, but disrespect because you have not taught your dog boundaries. He needs them, and he will establish them if you don't! Or it may simply be that he is annoyed. What exactly is he trying to tell you? Pay attention ? but do not cater to him, and he will respect you. Only then will you have a healthy and happy relationship with your dog, and peace in your home.

GET HELP from Rena Murray at the Dog Obedience Training website. An accomplished Dog Behavior Modification expert, Dog Obedience Trainer, and Platinum Expert Author, Rena provides self-help Articles and free "Best Ezines"-recognized newsletter: PAW PERSUASION POINTERS to help you better understand communication and control of your dogs, debunk dog training myths, explore right and wrong dog training techniques for specific situations, address destructive dog behavior, excessive and obsessive dog behavior, and other canine issues, from new puppy to old dog. Subscribe for free at, visit Rena's BLOG -, find the dog products, crates, and gifts you need at, and Contact Rena for Coaching

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