An owner sitting with their dog in their lap in the kitchen.

How To Show Dogs You’re In Charge?

5 mins |

Owning a dog is a full-time job, and you probably want your dog to be well-behaved. But how can you do it? How do you show dogs you’re in charge? 

To show dogs you’re in charge, maintain eye contact, adopt a “leader first” mentality, eliminate bad habits and behaviors in your dog, take charge of the resources in your home, stay consistent with the rules, and establish clear boundaries.

Why Is It Important To Present As A Leader With Your Dog?

Every dog owner (especially new ones!) needs to know how important it is for you to present as the leader. This is because dogs operate on a hierarchical structure, and those above do not have to follow orders from anyone. 

They are creatures that operate on body language. That’s why you need to assert strong body language when training your dog. Otherwise, your dog will never be the leader in the eyes of your dog. 

If you don’t present yourself as the leader, your dog may turn out to be disobedient and even put itself in the shoes of the leader. 

When you make all the decisions, your dog knows you are in charge and will follow your lead. By presenting as a leader, you can guide your pup’s behavior and make sure they respect you and others. 

Six Things To Keep In Mind When Presenting As A Leader To Your Dog

A dog laying with its owner on a couch.
Looks like it’s time for a conversation.

A leader asserts strength. And do not get us wrong; this is nothing to do with showing aggressive behavior. It’s all about creating a relationship based on balance and respect. 

But how can you do it? That’s where we step in. Let’s look at a few things to help you assert your leadership over your dog. 

Maintain Eye Contact

Eye contact is a powerful, powerful thing when it comes to dogs. But unfortunately, dogs rarely make eye contact with other dogs in the pack because they consider this as threatening behavior

As dogs are sensitive to eye contact, maintaining direct eye contact when giving a command is key to showing you’re the leader. 

Make sure not to break that contact until you’re ready, as your dog will interpret it as a lack of authority.

Whenever your dog disobeys you, lock that cold-eye stare toward them.  And do not, under any circumstances, break eye contact until they get your message loud and clear. 

Adopt A “Leader First” Mentality

That means you always come first, no matter what. So, for example, you should come out of the door when taking your dog for a walk or entering a room; ensure your posture is strong and confident. And yes, you should speak clearly and calmly. 

Basically, with every little thing you do, your dog should always be aware you are the pack’s leader. 

However hard it may seem for you to keep up with this, do not let guilt take over. When you become too soft on your dog, it’ll see it as a chance to take over. 

Eliminate Bad Habits And Behaviors

Puppies are most likely to pee around the house or steal food, while adult dogs often misbehave, so they don’t come when called, or they may bark or growl whenever things are not as they please. 

That’s why it is important to establish what behaviors are acceptable and how your dog should behave from a young age. However, you should understand that no matter how hard you try to train them, they can start acting out of line. 

If your dog displays unacceptable behavior, address it immediately and eliminate any chance of reward or praise for those behaviors.

Control All Resources

Dogs need to understand that you are in charge of all resources in the home, including food, water, toys, and treats. 

When they are not playing with their toys, keep them stuffed in a box, way out of their reach. Even though it may seem cruel to deprive them of their toys, it shows leadership. So keep that in mind whenever you think of leaving their toys around the house. 

When it comes to eating, establish a feeding schedule and stick to it. Don’t let your dog beg for food or treats, as this will reinforce bad habits. Eating before giving them food may be a good idea too. That way, your dog will know they’ll get a yummy meal after you eat. 

Stay Consistent With Rules 

Dogs need to understand what is acceptable and what is not. So, set rules that are consistent, clear, and fair. Make sure you never break the established rules, or your dog will become confused and lose respect for you.

For instance, if you decide to keep your dog from a certain room, stay consistent with it. 

And remember, don’t stop training once the puppy years end. They are intelligent creatures and are constantly faced with challenges during their short yet remarkable lifetimes. So, naturally, you’ll need to keep up with training and provide guidance throughout their life. 

Establish Proper Boundaries

Dogs need boundaries in order to understand how to behave. Set boundaries around what is acceptable behavior and how they should interact with other people and animals. If the boundaries cross, be sure to take action and make sure your dog knows you’re in charge.

Bottom Line: How To Show Dogs You’re In Charge

You wanted to know how to show dogs you’re in charge, and now here you are, packed with knowledge when it comes to showing your dog you’re the leader. 

We know that’s easier said than done though. But with patience and consistency, you’ll be able to establish a strong foundation of respect and trust between you and your dog. 

Also, we are interested in how you worked with your dog. Let us know in the comments below!

Sandra is a veterinary undergraduate student based in Macedonia. She combines her two passions: veterinary medicine and writing, and she also tends to raise awareness about animal welfare as much as she can. As a student, she has attended many seminars and conferences related to the veterinary profession, and currently, she is focused on veterinary content writing. Although she owns a cat, she strongly claims that “dogs are her favorite people”.