Regarding your canine like a member of the family is one thing, but treating it like another human or a human dog is an entirely different thing altogether. Its okay to love your pet, but you must set boundaries and establish yourself as its leader or boss. That’s not cruel, it is instead (believe it or not), what your dog expects from you.
If you’ll remember, dogs are pack animals. In every animal pack, there exists a recognized leader and a group of followers. It doesn’t matter if that pack is large or small, every pack has a group of members with established roles. Since a dog enters your domain, it expects you to play the role of the leading (albeit, human) dog. A dog will follow your lead only when you provide one! And it will not only be obedient, it will also feel more secure (just think back to the pack thing).
Establishing yourself as the boss isn’t that hard. You just have to be the first in everything. Being the first to enter into a room or the first to go outside are two good examples. You may have to train your dog to wait until you give it permission to follow, but this training is expected. The minute you notice your dog rushing ahead of you, bring it back with a leash and give it the sit or stay command. Proceed to walk ahead of the dog and then give it the “come” or “release” command. This emphasizes your position as the leader.
Another way to establish your rank is to demand your dog pay attention to you. The only way your dog will learn basic dog commands is when it focuses on your desires. So get your dog to look at you and only you even when distractions are present.
Creating and following a schedule is another way to emphasize your status since it restricts times when the dog can do things and it eliminates opportunities for the dog to do what it wants – whenever it wants. That means you must schedule feeding time, sleep time, and play time. Feeding and treating the dog reinforces your role as a food source, while refusing to chase it around the house in pursuit of something it shouldn’t have reinforces your role as a non-manipulative figure. If you end each game in possession of the dog’s toy (and not the other way around), you’ll send the message that you indicate when fun ends – not the dog.