when am I the leader again?
My just over 2 year old male snapped at me a month ago as I was leaning over him while he had a small chew. Never done it before. Always a good dog. I have been told this was because he has no respect for me.
I trained and socialized him every day until I had to attend hospital in June 2009 until December for cancer treatment. I was not able to train him as too tired, but hubby walked him although we attended hospital every day.
Recovered fully now and started retraining him. Just wondered when and hopefully soon, I should earn his respect and how do I know when I have it?
Part of the problem here is probably that your reduced interaction and input coincided with his adolescence - a time when a pup, especially a male pup, is testing boundaries and trying to find where he fits in the 'pecking order'.
Obviously this couldn't be helped, and I'm very happy to hear that you're fully recovered now. Your dog is still young and I think you should be able to get things back to the right footing as long as you're consistent, patient and loving.
Dogs respect those who control the resources of life (food is a big one!) and it's important that you are responsible for feeding, grooming, walking, training and so on at this point. Also make him 'earn' everything from his meals to his daily walk, by asking him to 'sit' and making sure he obeys before giving him his dish, clipping on his leash, giving him a treat/toy, brushing him etc. etc.
Work with him so that he knows the 'leave it' or 'drop it' command inside out (where he'll drop whatever he has in his mouth whenever you tell him to) and obeys instinctively. He also should allow you to put your hand in his food dish, or pick up his dish, without complaint. If he doesn't already allow this, start working on it now. Whenever you begin to work on this, or on the drop it command, always give him a treat in exchange for whatever he gives you (be it his toy, or his food bowl). Feeding him a meal from your hand, letting him eat from your palm, is a good way of reducing any problems he has about your hand being near his food, and helps encourage trust.
I'd also recommend a formal obedience training class as a way of helping you strengthen the bond between you and your dog, and also to help you with some hands-on tips and advice for specific problems.
If your dog has a sound temperament, and is basically a good dog, then you should be able to get your leadership status back reasonably quickly.
Hope this helps, best of luck.