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We love our dogs and are constantly entertained by the cute and funny things they do, but some behaviours can spell trouble.
Regardless of how sweet and fuzzy they are when they’re young, dogs are a pack animal with a pack mentality and as such, need to learn their place in the hierarchy of your household. They need to learn pretty quickly that you are the ‘top dog’ and that you won’t be challenged for the role.
Here are five signs to look for that tell you when your dog is challenging your authority:
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1. Your dog urinates all over the house. This is how dogs ‘mark’ their territory. If your dog is urinating in places like the bedroom – or even on the bed – you know he is trying to make a statement.
2. Your dog tries to take food from you or other members of the household, including other pets. In the animal world the dominant ones generally eat first and the rest of the pack get seconds. This becomes even more serious if your dog becomes aggressive when you try to retrieve it.
3. Your dog will take over the bed, the couch, and your other pets’ beds. He will try to place himself between you and other people or between you and the task you are doing (reading, watching TV, using the computer.) Your dog is demanding your attention and not allowing you to interact with other people or things. He thinks he ‘owns’ you.
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4. He will push past you when you open the door, run away from you, wander (or run) out of the yard at every opportunity and begin to mark the rest of the neighbourhood. He doesn't know where his boundaries are.
5. He will attempt to raise himself above you. For example, climbing up onto your shoulders, sleeping on your pillow. Climbing onto the back of your couch or standing over you when you are lying down.
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If your dog is exhibiting any of these behaviours it’s time for you to take a stand. You’re the top dog, the dominant one and your dog needs to be re-trained to see you that way. Always make him wait his turn. Let him know that his bowl, his bed and his toys are ultimately yours, and you allow him to use them when you say so. Don’t punish your dog for these behaviours; he’s not being naughty, just a normal dog. Reward him when he does the right thing. He’ll soon learn who is boss.