I often hear people express concern that their dog does not respect them due to certain behaviors that the dog displays. One common example is a dog who tries to avoid their owners when they try to trim the dog’s nails and when the owners hold the dog in position for the nail trim, the dog will growl, snarl, snap, or bite.
Does this have anything to do with respect? Well, if a dog is showing avoidance behaviors when he knows it is time for a nail trim and then when physically held for the trim shows aggressive behaviors, this has to do with fear rather than a lack of respect. The reason(s) the dog is fearful of nail trims may vary, but it is the fact that he or she is scared which is driving the behavior as opposed to a lack of respect.
Think of it like this:
1. Pick something which REALLY scares you ( a mouse, snake, spider, heights etc..).
2. Now, pick someone who you know well, love, and respect (a partner, family member etc..)
For the purpose of giving an example, let’s say you are really scared of snakes and you love & respect your partner. Now, picture yourself at the kitchen counter paying bills. All of a sudden your partner approaches you from behind and you turn to him/her and you see that he is holding a 6 foot python ( snake). You start feeling scared. Think of all the behaviors you may do at this time ( try to get farther from your partner, yell, scream, etc…) Now, ask yourself this: Are you scared because you do not love/respect your partner?
I hope everyone can see that claiming there is a lack of respect when there is a fear issue makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.
If we want a dog to overcome his/her fear of nail trims, we need to design a plan for him to help him overcome his fear. Dogs can show fear in many ways such as avoidance behaviors BUT if the dog is being physically held and can not get away, one strategy of asking you to stop is to show aggression.
The goal is to help the dog overcome his or her fear and NOT to make the dog respect you.