Dear Mr. Wade,
I have an month old Labrador Retriever. She does not see me as the alpha “dog” and only listens to me when she feels like it. I know that she saw my ex as the alpha but it’s just the two of us now and she’s driving me crazy.
One word provides the answer – Clarity. Men without any conscious effort provide clarity. However, with the right sort of coaching, on average women are by far better dog trainers then we men are.
Those men that haven’t been carried away “embracing their feminine side” send out “I’m in charge.” Here’s an example. A man and woman both have had a hard day at work. It’s a problem and it’s fresh. A man is going to come home and outline what a jerk the problem is and how unreasonable the jerk is etc. Then he tells his beloved precisely what he’s going to do about it. It’s probably not what he’s actually going to do but he’s “got a plan.” All this is going on while he’s grabbing something to eat, answering or making a phone call, finding his hockey equipment etc. Now a woman with the same problem is going to take the phone off the hook and say to her husband, “Sit with me. We need to talk.” If the fellow can get to the door (although he’ll find it has been padlocked anyway) before she can get to him he avoid the marathon. If not, were he wise he would listen but not talk. Dogs may listen better to men but it sure isn’t because we’re wise. This hypothetical man will start in with, “Here’s what you should do . . .” when she just wants him to listen. That in a nutshell is why dogs listen to men better then women and by no coincidence why so many men have become have ex-husbands and ex-boyfriends. In a dog’s eyes, we provide clarity and women beat around the bush. Dog’s see in us the potential for consequence.
Regardless, women have the potential to be better dog trainers then men because they see things that men don’t see or we see too late. For example, a man and woman have come back from a social get together. The woman says to the man, “Did you see the way so and so was looking at so and so? A typical man’s reply, “Were they there?” It’s that ability to see nuance, something off in a child; did something happen at school? Are they coming down with something?” etc. This is an invaluable ability when training dogs. It allows the trainer to catch the idea before it turns into an action which leads to more subtle direction and quicker progress. However, it’s useless without a woman embracing the male side of her personality.
This can be done without embracing flatulence, doing laundry only when the closet is empty and cleaning the tub only when you move. Femininity does not need to be cast aside. Just stop treating the dog like a child and start treating it like a boyfriend or husband that is being disrespectful and dismissive that needs to be set straight. I know you won’t and you know you won’t but your dog needs to believe for a couple of weeks that being cut loose is a real possibility. Otherwise you’re just going to continue to be a door mat that provides meals and loving once in a while on another’s agenda.
Here’s a start. Leave a leash on your dog whenever you’re together and absolutely insist the dog stay in one spot at each door way, the kitchen and the stairs until given permission to move and if you’re having not luck in no more then 3 days contact a balanced trainer for help.