Winning a dog's respect is not complicated. Dogs are naturally loyal and they inherently understand a certain need for authority structure. If you treat them with respect and kindness, they generally will put their trust in you as the leader of the pack. But a disrespectful dog can be quite a handful.
In the canine world, a dog who's happy to see you is a dog who respects you. Happily wagging tail, playful energy and relaxed ears are typical signs of a dog who respects you. A respectful dog also obeys your commands to sit, stay or come to you happily and without hesitation. And he will be relaxed and submissive when you brush him or check for fleas or ticks.
Dogs convey their emotions and intentions through their posture and body language. Submissive body language shows that your dog respects your authority in the pack. A happy dog shows a relaxed posture -- no tension in the muscles, fur that sits naturally and is not raised, and relaxed tail and facial expressions. A dog showing submission will make himself look smaller to convey that he is not a threat. He will also turn his head and avoid eye contact if you scold him.
In the canine world, the leader always goes first toward a destination. A sure sign your dog respects you is that she will let you reach the door or the other room first. A dog who consistently races ahead of you or stands in your way may not respect your authority. A respectful dog also always lets the leader choose where to sit. If your dog refuses to give up the couch when you want to sit, she may be challenging your authority.
Dogs respect those who respect them, but if you are too deferential to your dog, you are likely to create a sense of disrespect in him. If, for example, he is lying in your way, stepping over him rather than telling him to move sends the message that you are more in his way. Or if you shower him with treats for doing nothing you are telling him that you are there to serve him.
- Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images