Most owners struggle with the leadership side of things with their dogs. They lack accountability, setting rules, boundaries and they give their dog too much love, accessibility, couch privileges, free roaming, allowing non-sense behavior and reinforcing behaviors they actually don’t want.
Many times we see owners saying “no” or “it’s okay” to their dog while petting them after the dog has lunged or barked at another dog/person. We humanize our dog by comforting them and re-assuring them things are okay as how we would a human. The thing is, dogs don’t learn that way…if you tell your dog “it’s ok” and pet him after he’s lunged at someone, you’ve just reinforced the behavior you didn’t want.
We say it all the time, when you get a dog, teach him right away, limit access to valuable things in your home (couch, bed, unearned physical affection) teach all of the fundamental work (threshold manners, crate manners, sit, down for long period of time, place command, waiting for food/water), make your dog work for every thing. Dogs LOVE to work for their rewards and need to be punished or need consequences when they share unwanted behavior, that is how dogs learn (through reward and consequences).
Be the authority figure and the leader your dog needs. Be believable and consistent and then you can soften up a little bit but scale it and keep things balanced in you and your dog’s life. If you share a 5 in affection, then you better share a 5 in rules, authority and accountability department and so on. Keep the scale balanced, that’s the goal.
Build you and your dog’s relationship by teaching your dog to respect you and your rules first, then comes trust through leadership and guidance. Respect is #1.