How to Tell if Your Dog Respects You: 21 Signs of Respect

how to tell your dog respects you

The natural order, or at least how we perceive it, should mean that your dog respects you as the pack leader and alpha in the canine to human relationship. But this won’t always be the case, with some dogs not understanding where they should be in the pecking order.

It tends to be dogs that have not had properly training from a young age, that like to push the boundaries of acceptable behavior and respect towards their owners. If your dog doesn’t respect you and thinks he’s in charge, it will mean problems. Not just for you, but also other dogs and other people.

With that in mind, I’ve put together a list of signs that your dog respects you. If you can tick most of these signs off, it means your dog respects your position as the leader.

Signs your dog respects you

Given the correct training, environment, and up bringing from being a puppy, the majority of dogs will grow into loving and trusting pets that respect the strong bond they have with you. Dogs are (in the main) very loyal.

You will have a problem if this isn’t the case, so here are the signs that show you how you can tell if your dog respects your or not. If your dog does respect you, your life will be a lot easier in public places, homes, and daily interactions.

1. Your dog doesn’t sit in your seat when you get up

Do you have a dog that leaps into your chair or seat the minute you get up? This might seem cute and make you think they want to be close to you and get your warmth, but the complete opposite could be true.

It could instead mean that your dog does not respect you, because he wants the number 1 seat or throne… and believes it’s his natural position in the hierarchy to have the hot seat.

The alpha is the one in charge of the pack and should be getting the best of everything. This means the best food, the best drinks, the best company and yes, you guessed it, the best seat in the house.

how you know your dog respects you
My dog really lacks respect – that was my seat!

If he’s in your seat when you come back in the room, you might have a power struggle on your hands!

2. Your dog lets you choose your seat

Following on from seats, we can take this one step further by letting you choose which seat you are going to sit in first. For example, when you walk in a room, does your dog wait for you to be seated before he takes his position?

If your dog is letting you sit first and find the prime spot it’s a sign of respect… because after all, the leader of the pack should always get to choose first.

Similarly, dogs that respects their owners will also move out of the way when the owner wants to sit down.

3. Your dog follows you everywhere

Whilst a dog that’s too clingy can’t be a little problematic occasionally, having one that wants to follow you wherever you go is a sign he respects you. It’s all about the pack, and as the pack leader, others will follow you out of respect.

If your dog has such blind trust in you to believe you know what you’re doing and where you’re going, it means he respects you complicitly.

4. Your dog doesn’t walk you on the leash

Ask yourself this question; is your dog walking you, or are you walking your dog?

If it’s the latter, then you know your dog respects you. However, if it’s the former and your dog is pulling you along, he’s positioning himself as the alpha who is leading the pack.

A dog that lets you lead and walks by your side on the leash is one that respects you and waits for you to tell him what is happening next and which direction your pack is taking.

5. Your dog lets you go through doors first

On the topic of walking and the respect of hierarchies involved, what does your dog do when you approach a door? If your dog lets you in first, you can tell that your dog has a lot of respect for you.

If instead, your dog is rushing to get through the door, it means you’ve lost his respect.

Think of it this way; as the brave pack leader you should go into doors (or caves) first, just in case there are any predators in their who need to be defeated by your strength.

6. Your dog brings you toys to gain approval

Before dogs were domesticated, they would have been in wild pack. Within that peck was a pecking order, with the leader at the top. The leader of a pack gets to choose the best food, and that will be offered up as gift by the rest of the dogs.

signs your dog respects you
Look how brave my dog was bringing me his prey!

In more modern times we still see elements of this behavior when dogs bring their favorite toys to their owners. Yes, of course, they want to play, but it’s also a submissive sign of respect as they are giving you their prized “prey”.

7. Your gets close to you to seek protection

The pack leader is the strong one who protects the pack. Other members also have to offer a ring of protection to the leader.

Therefore, you can tell your dog respects you as the leader if he wants to sit and be near you all of the time. It’s his way of not just getting protection, but also offer you strength in numbers too.

As their owner, they trust and respect you to keep them secure and safe.

8. Your dog doesn’t walk away when you talk to him

What do you think when someone turns their back to you during a conversation? It’s a sign of utter disrespect isn’t – and it’s the same with dogs (I think). What could be more disrespectful than them turning around and walking off when you address your dog?

So, if you have a dog who doesn’t listen to you, it’s a sure-fire way to tell they don’t respect you at all. You have zero authority unfortunately.

9. Your dog listens to you when you give him a command

On the other side of the fence, if you have a pet that hangs on every word you say and obeys you, it’s a sign your dog respects you.

As the leader of pack, you should be able to command the respect of a room, with the rest of the pack looking attentively at you and waiting for orders.

10. Your dog doesn’t come and sit on top of you

Back onto the topic of seating arrangements now, this time regarding dogs that like to sit on top of you. If your dog sits on you, it could mean he’s trying to dominate you and your space – placing a solitary paw on you is acceptable.

You know your dog respects you if instead he wants cuddles rather than being a space invader. After all, the alpha would not let his minions sit on him, would he?

11. Your dog is fed on a scheduled time

You can gain the respect of your dog by being in total command of his food – which you should be anyway, but extend that control to the times he’s fed. The pack leader decides when and where the rest of the pack get fed.

If your instead your dog has a food dispenser, he can decide when and how much he eats. This level of control takes away your position as the pack leader in the house.

Your dog will respect you more when you’re in charge of when he gets fed.

12. Your dog is happy to wait until you have eaten before having their meal

Continuing on theme of food, dogs that beg and jump up to get your food evidently have no respect. If you truly are in charge of the household, you can tell your dog respects you if they wait until you eat before they expect to be fed.

This is a basic level of the chain of command.

13. Your dog doesn’t steal your food

Taking things to a whole new level of disrespect are those dogs that are brazen enough to steal the food from your hand or plate, even when you’re back isn’t turned.

The pack leader’s food is sacrosanct, so for a dog to steal yours tell you all you need to know about your position in the pecking order.

14. Your dog doesn’t get treats for doing nothing

Similarly with treats, your dog might grow to disrespect you and having to obey your commands if you give him treats for no reward. By doing so, it could mean your dog thinks your role is purely that of having to serve him, rather than the other way around.

dog signs of respect
We might have overdone it with the treats this time, no wonder he doesn’t respect me! 

Only give your dog a treat if it’s deserved.

Your dog will respect you a lot more if you make him work for his treats on an action versus reward basis. As the pack leader, you should control the food source.

15. Your dog doesn’t urinate in the house

When dogs urinate indoor it can mean they have health and behavior problems, including anxiety. If your dog is doing this, please do seek professional advice.

However, dogs that pee indoors could also be doing it to mark their own dominance in the household… and that’s problem as means there’s no respect for you or your home.

16. Your dog lets you groom them

Does your dog happily let you groom his fur? If yes, you know that your dog has respect for you because this plays into the being submissive – especially if letting you groom those hard-to-reach places!

Dogs need to be fully relaxed and feel at ease before any grooming takes place, so it’s a sign of trust, love, and respect.

17. Your dog lets you greet visitors first

Another sign that your dog sees you as the alpha is by letting you get to and answer the door first. If your dog is running in front of you to greet visitors before you can at the door, it means he believes he’s the boss in the chain of command.

Respect means the leader of the pack is who get to greet visitors first. If your dog really has respect for you, then he should accept he’s the one who is the last to get attention from a visitor.

This makes sense when you think about how pack mentality should work; the leader is the one to greet visitors, as he can ensure things are safe before the remainder of the crew get introduced.

18. You dog doesn’t wake you up

You know your dog has the utmost of respect for you when he lets you sleep in. After all, you’re the leader of the pack, so you decide when to wake up, not him.

If your dog continually wakes you up, and it’s not because they need a pee, you need to start setting boundaries. Just because your dog is bored, he should not be waking you up and should instead wait until you are ready to start the day.

how you know your dog has respect for you
I let him get his beauty sleep, so why doesn’t he give me the respect back! 

19. Your dog breaks eye contact with you first

Have you ever heard about looking dogs in the eye? If your dog is trying to stare you out, it means he thinks he’s the dominant one, and refuses to break eye contact first… and it’s all part of their ingrained behavior.

In the dog world, prolonged eye contact is deemed to be threatening. The dog that looks away is the weaker one that has backed down.

So, if you have a dog that refuses to look away in a staring competition, it could be a sign that he doesn’t respect you.

20. Your dog doesn’t nip your ankle when you leave the room

There are a few reasons why dogs nip at heels and ankles, including a herd instinct that’s hard-wired into their DNA.

However, some will also do it as an aggressive motion because they don’t want you to leave them room. In fact, your dog is so dominant he might think you need to get his permission to get up and leave, which certainly can’t be a sign of respect.

21. Your dog is relaxed and happy around you

And lastly, just how happy is your dog? A happy dog is usually one that trusts and respects you. If they are submissive, joyful, have a wagging tail and are relaxed, that equals respect and contentment.


Without respect between the both of you, you won’t have a happy dog. But just because you want to be the boss, it doesn’t mean you have to be hard on your pooch. Instead, to get your dog to respect you, it takes training, patience, repetition, and understanding.

If you can get that all right, a mutual respect will grow.

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Marc Aaron

I am one of Claude the French Bulldog's human parents. I write about all the things we've learned about owning a Frenchie, the adventures we have, and any advice and tips I've picked up along the way. Read more about Marc Aaron.

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