Who’s Top Dog?

By: Joel Allen

Well, folks, another month has already blurred by and we are almost half way to Christmas, lol! Y’all don’t roll your eyes at me, I am just stating a fact.

Years ago, when Zues was on this earth with me and he was learning that a ride in a vehicle was a wonderful thing, I found myself being trained by him. He would always get into a vehicle, especially a truck, placing his front paws in and his upper body half way in and then look back at me like, “Would you mind lifting my rear and helping me in?” He did this for attention, I believe, but to also feel in charge. That is my belief on that subject, and it was funny. He could always get us laughing.

So, who in your household is the top dog? Does your dog seem smarter than everyone? Does he/she have everyone feeling like they need their food left out? Or are they begging for your food and thinking you will give it up to them? Are your dog(s) having control over your sleeping time at night such as interrupting your sleep to be let out all hours of the night? Is your household the type that does not like dogs on the furniture? These are a few questions I will answer in this article but there are many more.

So, who in your household is the top dog or in charge? It’s simple enough, and it better be you or there will be behavior problems. Being in charge as the “hooman,” the dog needs to see your confidence. They need to always understand that their hooman has their needs in mind. When a dog does not see a pack leader in front of them, they will assume the role themselves. This can cause behavioral issues in the home and can lead to worse situations because dogs are pack animals and they need that structure.

Are the hoomans leaving the dog food out to free feed on? If the answer is yes, the wrong message is being sent to the dog(s). Dog(s) tend to think they are in charge when this is allowed. “Oh, here comes my servant now. He has been trained well. I bark and he/she jumps. Presto! Instant food go-getter and server thingy for me!” If you’re reading this and know someone who does this for their dogs, then allow me to explain some things that might additionally transpire in that household. Resource guarding, which leads to food aggression and can easily become an issue and start fights; obesity in the dogs; and a waste of food. Never allow this to happen. You can prevent it by planning their meals. I give mine a half-hour to eat and if they don’t, then they have to wait until the next meal. Oh well!

Do your dogs beg for food when it is your dinner time? Is anyone guilty of feeding their dog from the dinner table? That is not okay and should never be started. Am I guilty of this? I am but I have corrected myself for I see the problems with this. So, no feeding the dogs from the table!

Another thing I have noticed is the dog(s) controlling our sleep patterns. How many of us get awakened just so the canine family member can go outside in the middle of the night? A quick fix for that is a dog door. There is one problem with that though, other critters might take liberties and invade your home, or even worse, another person could break into your home that way. So, a dog door is a good idea but if they can abide by a schedule that would be better.

Lastly, the furniture ninja has made his presence known. Houston is known to be that furniture ninja.  When we visit places with nice furniture, and he will sneak a nap on the available furniture. He knows it’s not ours but he still does it. I always tell him to get down, and he slowly does but not before he lets you see him sulk. I’m always telling him to wait until we get back home, and then he will have his chair back. He always sighs but is so happy when we do get home.

So folks, evaluate yourselves and see if this article is what is needed for your household. Have a great June and be safe.