Being Dominant

I absolutely love being a dog owner. They way they wiggle all over when you finally come home is such a blessing to behold, and I just want to show them how much I love them in return. However, that usually results in me becoming one of the pack instead of a pack leader. Typically I’m okay with this: I absolutely love when I visit my parents and Boomer (my boxer) sits in my lap and crawls all over me as a way of “claiming” me as his. I find it endearing and I wouldn’t have it any other way. With a German Shepherd – a breed that places high importance on pack structure – though, I need to assert myself as a dominant.

I struggle with this so much. I am not very assertive, nor do I have a dominant personality. As a result, Aaron worries that when he’s gone, I won’t have control over Sammie and will struggle with keeping her in line. He’s probably right, although she listens to me really well right now. In all honesty, the only obedience problem I have with her is she jumps on me every time I come home (okay, and we’re still working on leash training). While I correct her with the knee up and the “off!” command, Aaron always tells me I’m too lenient with her and I need to make sure she understands she can’t do that. We have friends that are expecting, and I have a feeling we’ll be volunteering to babysit a lot (YAYY!), so that behavior definitely needs to stop. I understand his concern, and I’m trying REALLY hard… I just don’t know what else to do. Advice?

We’ve also had a lot of discussions around this topic because we have different ideas about what is acceptable behavior for an animal we’re trying to teach is not the pack leader. While jumping up is obviously wrong and needs to stop, there are some boundaries that are less black-and-white. For example, I love having her get up on the couch with me, while he would prefer she didn’t. I thought a good compromise could be that she can only get up on the furniture when she is invited (which still establishes boundaries), but he didn’t say too much in response. Perhaps he would rather we just have an all-or-nothing approach.

If anyone has experience with this, I’d love to know how you balance being the doggy mom with being the pack leader. I’m definitely struggling right now.

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