Little Miss Pushy-Pants

Our Bailey-dog is the most submissive puppy ever. She's a little protective of us around strange sounds and people she doesn't know, but she's happy to flop on her back and let you take charge. In exchange for belly rubs, which is fine with me.

Now Sadie on the other hand...she's a pushy, pushy girl. She gets very jealous and very excited about whatever is happening around her. She's not aggresive - she's just pushy. If Bailey's getting a treat, then she'll push her way in for one, too. If it's time to go for a walk, she has to be the first one to the door. If there's company, she wants full attention regardless of who they're actually here to see.

We've really had to put the brakes on this kind of behavior. Pushy puppies are cute and you giggle over their antics, but a pushy 60-pound black lab isn't so cute anymore. Pushing turns into dominating and we refuse to let it turn into that.

If this sounds like your home, try what we've found to be the best ways to control a pushy dog.

1. Control your personal boundary. Your space is yours until a cold, wet nose intrudes. This is the perfect time for the "back up" command or a "sit-stay" command. It may take some time to comprehend this new tactic, especially if you have an older dog, but it's definitely worth it to not trip over a puppy every time you move.

2. Control your front door. This is super-important if your guests aren't particularly fond of puppy kisses. Or getting knocked down. Or being forced to stand on the porch while you put your dog in another room. Instead of changing your behavior or your guests' behavior, make the entry way off limits until your visitors are in and settled. You set the boundaries, not your pets.

3. Control your walk. We still have issues with this one because both of our dogs L-O-V-E their walk time. Having a dog almost half your size take you for a walk isn't fun, so take control from the moment you step out of the door. You decided when to walk, where to walk , how fast to walk and whether you want them right by your side or not. It's supposed to be a fun time, but it's also a time to practice discipline and respect.

4. Control your games and treats. Do you buy your children something every time they ask for it? If not, why should you give your dog something every time she whines, pushes or drops toys in your lap? This is not cute...this is dominence. They actually have to do something in order to be rewarded not matter how cute and sweet they are. When they sit, reward them. When they come when they're called, reward them. When they wait for your spoken command to do something, reward them. Put yourself in the driver's seat and prevent that pushy behavior.

5. Control your tendancy to make excuses. But she's so stinking cute! But she's just a puppy! But she' Stop. She's a dog and you're the human. You are in charge and she'll be just as cute when she's curled up at your feet instead of pushing you off the couch so she can get comfortable. Obedience and respect are much more important than the sweet little labels that we put on animals. If you want to take the push out of your pet, all it takes is you.


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