Dogs are pack animals and all packs have a leader. In a domestic situation that should be you and not your dog. When your dog knows its place in the pack it is actually happier than when the boundaries are unclear.
Even though dogs are a domesticated species now they still retain the pack instinct.
If you allow your dog to sleep on the bed this is reinforcing the fact that he is the alpha dog. The alpha dog in a pack always gets the comfiest place to sleep. Larger breeds sometimes like to push their owners out of the way, which is not acceptable since it further reinforces their dominance. If you want to be the leader of the pack and still wish to have the dog sleep on your bed, they should only be allowed to get up there when asked and made to sleep at the foot of the bed rather than beside you.
If you are the owner of a large breed dog it is probably not a good idea to engage in games such as tug of war. The reason being that he might win, hence giving him the perceived position of leader of the pack.
There are many ways in which you can reinforce the fact that you are the leader. Here are a few examples you might like to try:
- When walking the dog make sure that he does not lead the way. In a pack the alpha dog always leads.
- Do not allow your dog to be the first to enter or leave a room. You lead, he follows.
- Always let your dog see you eat something before you feed him.
- All human family members should eat before the dog
- Never feed scraps to him during the meal
- It is very important never to show fear or weakness in the presence of your dog
- Don’t allow anyone to rough and tumble on the floor with the dog. You should always be in a ‘higher’ position than the dog.
There are lots of other ways to reinforce your leadership. A good idea is to buy or borrow some of Cesar Millan’s books which contain invaluable advice around this subject.
Don’t fear that you are mistreating your animal when you are asserting dominance over him. This is the natural way of life for a dog.