How to Be Assertive With Dogs

Dogs respond well to calm, gentle leadership.
i the dog sits image by Aliaksandr Zabudzko from

Dogs are pack animals who take cues about how to behave from their pack members. In households, your family is your dog's pack, and calm, assertive behavior from you is a valuable training tool that will encourage good behavior in your dog.

Step 1

Envision yourself being calm and assertive, particularly if you are an anxious person or worry about your dog's misbehavior. Dog trainer Cheri Lucas emphasizes the importance of envisioning the behavior you want to see in both you and your dog. By picturing the best-case scenario instead of the worst, you're more likely to remain calm and provide strong leadership to your dog.

Step 2

Behave calmly in stressful situations. If, for example, your dog tends to be aggressive around cats, you're likely to pull on his leash and become anxious when you see a cat walk by. Your dog might pick up on your anxiety, assume it's because of the cat and react aggressively toward the cat. Instead, focus on keeping a calm, soft tone and teaching your dog to rely on you rather than protect you.

Step 3

Make your dog work for rewards. Many people are so excited to see their dogs after a long day at work that they lavish their dogs with attention. This teaches your dog that he can have whatever he wants and often results in rambunctious, hyperactive behavior. Instead, ask your dog to sit, shake or come before he gets a treat or attention. This helps you to remain calm and avoid overexciting your dog, and is a great opportunity to practice basic training tricks.

Step 4

Talk to your dog in a calm, even voice rather than yelling at him or squealing in excitement. This teaches your dog that you are reliable and predictable, and makes him more likely to look to your leadership during stressful situations.

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