The way your dog PERCEIVES you directly impacts his or her behavior... for better or worse.

Struggling with your dog? Have a dog that is stubborn, non-compliant, pushy, reactive and/or always challenging you in some fashion or another? If you have a difficult dog and continue to struggle with him or her (despite training), then more times than not there is an issue with the "big picture" of how your dog PERCEIVES you. Your dog probably perceives you as a buddy (someone they have fun with but really doesn't have any more "say" than the dog itself) and/or... a substitute teacher: someone not truly in charge. Most likely, your dog is given free choice, free roam, love, and affection much more frequently than structure, discipline, & structured exercise... and that is a recipe for unwanted behaviors to breed.

Dogs crave, deserve and need leadership and when they don’t get it, they will make their own rules & do as they see fit (just imagine a group of middle school students going through an entire year with their "buddies" and no teacher whatsoever). Regardless of training (yes, training is super helpful and needed) and regardless of genetics (yes, genetics influence behaviors), the way your dog PERCEIVES you is directly impacting it's behaviors... for better of worse. Your dog has to BELIEVE, TRUST & RESPECT that you are a competent leader: one in charge in all situations all the time: on the walk, in the home, during an off leash hike, during group play sessions, etc... & that you will keep your dog SAFE and you will take care of the crazy world around it so your dog has nothing to worry about. However...your dog must also BELIEVE, TRUST & RESPECT your rules and boundaries and BELIEVE, TRUST & RESPECT that you WILL hold it accountable and you WILL discipline it (fairly but firmly) for any unwanted behaviors. Until your dog BELIEVES and TRUSTS in your leadership, it will always perceive you as a "buddy" or a "substitute teacher" and never truly take you seriously and then.... the struggle will continue.

Leadership (structure, discipline and engaged exercise) is far more important than affection and being a "buddy." You can do it all, but leadership MUST come first and ALWAYS be at the forefront. Until then... the struggle will continue.

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