How to Improve Dog Obedience: Doggy Dan 5 Golden Rules — Rule #3

The question of how to improve dog obedience boils down to one thing: in the eyes of your dog, who is in charge?

When no leadership is in place, dogs usually take on the role of the leader… and this paves the way for bad behavior issues to arise.

I always tell dog owners that if they want to see a significant improvement in dog obedience, they HAVE TO BE THE LEADERS.

And Rule Number Three of the Doggy Dan Five Golden Rules — DOING EVERYTHING ON YOUR OWN TERMS — helps dog owners become just that: the leaders dogs respect and trust.

But what exactly does “DOING EVERYTHING ON YOUR OWN TERMS” mean? What does it entail? And why is it such a CRUCIAL rule?

Read on to learn more.

Key Takeaways

  • The dog who feels they can invade and control your space will be very protective of you because they feel that they’re in charge. This is where behavior issues come in.
  • Doing EVERYTHING ON YOUR TERMS helps establish that you’re in charge, and you’re the one calling the shots.
  • Rule Number Three encourages dog owners to be the ULTIMATE decision makers for everything that involves their dogs. From feeding, to affection, to leisure, exercise — everything should be your call!


Table of Contents:

  1. How to Improve Dog Obedience: Recap of Doggy Dan Golden Rule Number 1 and Rule Number 2
  2. Rule Number Three: How To Improve Dog Obedience By Doing Everything On Your Terms
  3. How to Improve Dog Obedience: The Story of a Woman with an Aggressive Dog
  4. How to Improve Dog Obedience: The Dog Psychology Behind Rule Number Three
  5. If Dog Obedience Training Gets Hard, Remember These 4 Reasons Why Rule Number Three Is a Must-Do
  6. Conclusion: Learn How to Improve Dog Obedience + The Powerful Doggy Dan Five Golden Rules with the Dog Calming Code

How to Improve Dog Obedience: Recap of Doggy Dan Golden Rule #1 and Rule #2

The common factor between these two rules are taking control and being the leader in your relationship with your dog.

You see, most behavior issues come from dog owners not putting these rules in place. And through the lens of dog psychology, without these rules, your dog has no other choice but to be the leader instead.

So here’s why Rule Number One and Rule Number Two are essential pillars in dog training.

Rule #1 of Doggy Dan’s Five Golden Rules: Controlling the Food

The goal of Rule Number One is to help dog owners understand that for dogs, FOOD IS NOT JUST FOOD. The power of food is HUGE and dog owners can really use their dog’s daily meals to teach BIG lessons.

Dogs regard FOOD as a treasure. It’s their lifeline. When they have it, life could not be better. FOOD IS EVERYTHING!

And when you take control of the food, it sends a powerful message to your dog about who is really in charge.


Rule #2 of Doggy Dan’s Five Golden Rules: Delaying Acknowledgment After Separation

Rule Number Two is inspired by how wolves operate in the wild.

Every after separation, wolves would go to their leader NOT TO SHOW AFFECTION but to actually see if the Alpha is still capable of providing food and protecting the pack.

Our dogs are domesticated, but they still operate like this!

Some dog owners would say “My dog is just so affectionate. They just want to reconnect with me.”

In the eyes of your dog, it’s a different story. They’re also checking on you, eager to see if you truly are a capable leader.

Delaying acknowledgment or attention is like an Alpha’s way of assuring the other pack members “Don’t challenge me. I am still the leader.”

Rule #3: How To Improve Dog Obedience By Doing Everything On Your Terms

In the first two rules, we really stress the idea that your pup should see you as their food provider and as the confident leader who can handle anything that comes their way.

For Rule #3, the golden rule is EVERYTHING ON YOUR TERMS.

(I have a full video on this topic which you can watch below.)

What does it mean?

In every interaction, only two things can happen: you do everything on your terms OR your dog gets the upper hand and does things on their terms.

Being in control and being in charge DOES NOT STOP with food and affection. Decisions like where to go, what to do, where to potty, when to give hugs and pats, and when to train, are your call.

It’s like this: your dog should know when it comes to decision making, YOUR word is the green light.


Why? Why does it matter that YOU give the go signal for everything?


Dogs actually play mind games with us. A dog’s cuddles and bid for attention, DO NOT ALWAYS MEAN AFFECTION.

It’s always their way to check if YOU ARE A WORTHY LEADER.

You can counter these games by showing to your dog “No, in this house, I call the shots. Everything’s on my own terms.”

However, in my years as a top dog trainer, I have seen a lot of dog owners fall into the trap of letting their dog INVADE THEIR SPACE.

DOGS KNOW SPACE and they know getting into your space means they’re challenging your leadership.

Here’s a quick example…

Let’s say your dog is being affectionate to you. They come up to you and start licking your arms for attention or a pat, or they jump up to share your seat.

Now, giving them a pat or a cuddle SEEMS HARMLESS, RIGHT?

But this is where most dog owners get it wrong: the moment you give in to ANY request, you are letting them invade your space without your consent. Your dog will think they’re in charge.

After all, THEY requested, and YOU answered. It’s telling your dog that they — not you — are the actual leader.


How Rule #3 of the Doggy Dan Five Golden Rules Improve Dog Obedience by Communicating YOUR Leadership


In truth, I encourage you to listen to your dog’s needs.

Our dogs require love, food, and plenty of playtime from us! And as dog owners, that’s our responsibility.

However, the general rule here is EVERYTHING MUST BE ON YOUR OWN TERMS.

You can give your dog a treat, or a hug or a pat WITHOUT indulging to your dog’s every request.

You are NOT going to deny food, but YOU control when to give the food, what to give, and how to discipline a dog’s approach to mealtimes.

Of course, you can play with your dog! But making the decision what to play, when to play it, where to play it is yours alone to make.

When you do this, there will come a MAJOR shift to how your dog views you and themselves.


The dog — the rowdy, restless, anxious, aggressive, and even resistant one — who previously saw themselves as the Alpha will start to look up to you, THEIR BELOVED LEADER!

How to Improve Your Dog’s Obedience: The Story of a Woman with an Aggressive Dog

I received a phone call one day from a woman who called me about a concern she had with her aggressive German Shepherd.

Her dog had barking issues and was very aggressive to anyone getting near the property! The family was seriously considering putting him down.

She was a smart dog owner who was already following Rule #1 and Rule #2.

But she was still having major issues and her dog had started to bite strangers.

“What would you do, Dan? My big dog is still aggressive to everyone!”

I then asked if the dog was constantly asking for pats and cuddles.

“Hang on! Yes my big dog loves asking for pats and cuddles! All the time!”

I immediately knew what was wrong. He was always being rewarded whenever he invaded her space and demanded attention!

Remember: a dog who feels can freely invade and control your space is far more likely to over protect you and react to anything that comes near you.

This explains her dog’s aggression, and why the dog bites! He felt like he was in charge and was being very protective of his owner!


I told her to put Rule #3 in place. EVERYTHING should be on her terms.

A day or two after the call she cancelled her appointment, so I rang her up to check on what happened.

“It worked, Dan! His aggression stopped after I followed your suggestions. Not giving in to his requests has changed him!”

I can still hear the excitement and disbelief in her voice!

What made the difference? Through Rule #3, she was able to let him know “Hey, I can handle myself. Thank you, but I don’t need protecting.”

Can you imagine? The dog who was previously chasing and biting people, and barking excessively around the property, FINALLY calmed down!

How to Improve Dog Obedience: The Dog Psychology Behind Rule #3

These are three of the biggest reasons why Rule #3 resonates with our dogs.

Dogs Always Check for the Leader

For dogs, hierarchy makes them feel that everything in life is right and in order.

Dogs thrive in packs… after all, they share 99.998% of their genes with wolves! And because they belong in packs, having a leader is a must.

Our dogs are relentless when it comes to keeping the leader in check.

The leader must be capable of protecting and providing. It’s a risk if they’re not!

This leadership check-up continues even with our domesticated dogs.

One of the BEST WAYS to tell your dog “I’m fine, I can lead” — inspired by dog psychology — is to call the shots and do everything on your terms.

When your dogs can depend on you and your decisions, they will trust you as their leader.


Dogs Naturally Assume the Role of the Leader

The moment they get into your home, dogs naturally seek out who’s in charge. You can see this in the way they challenge everybody.

You might think “Did I get a bad dog?” The answer is NO.

It’s simply this: the dog has assumed the responsibility of being charge, and feel the need to control everything that’s happening around YOU.

If they don’t see you in control of their food, you are not the leader.

If they can easily invade your space, you are not the leader.

If you give in to requests, you are not the leader.

So what choice do our dogs have? BECOME THE LEADER INSTEAD.

AND BECAUSE LEADERSHIP MEANS PROTECTING YOU, your dog is always uneasy, and even anxious. They may resort to barking and leash pulling, and can show more signs of separation anxiety.

Leadership is ESSENTIAL for dogs to thrive, and if the dog can’t get it from you, they will assume it.

Dogs Don’t See Us As Equals

And because dogs don’t see us as equals, they can easily feel that they’re ABOVE us.

Obedience problems come up, they don’t respond to your call, and no matter what you do they remain aggressive.

You can nip the problem in the bud with the Five Golden Rules of leadership in place.


I empathize with that: you love your dogs, you want to shower them with all the love!


But your dog DOESN’T SEE YOU AS THEIR EQUAL. It’s either you’re the alpha, or simply a pack member who needs all the guarding and protection.

Dogs are not inherently bad; they don’t disobey just because. Leadership is simply not there.

If Dog Obedience Training Gets Hard, Remember These 4 Reasons Why Rule #3 is a Must-Do

Any loving dog owner can find Rule Number Three challenging! After all, we just really want to give in to what our dogs ask from us.

So if following Rule #3 becomes challenging, here are some facts to remember.

When Dogs Know You Are the Leader, They Are Calmer

Let’s bring all the first three rules together and discuss how they play out through the lens of dog psychology.

If you control the food, your dog will be able to switch off from being constantly on guard and protecting the family. They can relax, knowing someone else in charge. This is when you start seeing them nap a lot more during the day 🙂


If you delay acknowledgment after separation, your dog will see you’re still a most capable leader even after being away from them. It shows your dog YOU CAN PROTECT AND PROVIDE.

Once you start doing everything on your own terms — from feeding, to training, to leisure, to exercise — your dog will understand they really don’t have to make the decisions. There’s you! You know what to do!

All these rules make a calmer dog! They’re protected! No matter what happens, they’re in good hands!

And a calmer dog performs better in training and in real life!

When Dogs See You As a Leader, They Listen and Obey More

An endless supply of the best treats in the world means nothing if your dog doesn’t see any reason to obey you.

Why should they listen to you when they’re busy finding food, protecting the property, and staying on the lookout for threats?

This is why I don’t agree with shock collar training or overusing treat training. They would never work UNLESS you know what pushes dogs to listen and obey.

Establishing Your Leadership Helps Improve Dog Behavior

Just like in the story of the woman and her German Shepherd, you won’t only see a change in dog obedience, but in your dog’s overall behavior.

Dogs can overcome food aggression because now they know someone else is in charge of food. It’s no longer a life-or-death issue for them of protecting the food.

Separation anxiety also improves because your dog will no longer see you as a pup they need to protect. You’re now the Alpha! Not a pup in danger.

Recall training can also come with lesser resistance because you embrace your role of the leader in such a solid way that makes dogs say “Yes, I will listen and obey!”


Being a Leader in Your Dog’s Eyes Builds a Stronger Relationship

I always say this: the Doggy Dan Five Golden Rules is a surefire way to making your dog TRUST AND LOVE you.

You’re showing you are an Alpha — the one that protects and feeds the pack — and the leader of the dog pack that can’t be swayed or toppled by brute force.

And after you check the boxes off your dog’s “Is This Human Still Capable of Taking Care of Me” checklist, their respect for you will grow because you’re their lifeline.

You control the food. You are the giver of affection. You do everything on your own terms.

Your dogs can happily say “Well, someone’s here to protect me now. I better chill and listen to their instructions.”

It’s just so beautiful how dog psychology works!


Conclusion: Learn How to Improve Dog Obedience + The Powerful Doggy Dan Five Golden Rules with the Dog Calming Code

Improving dog obedience — when done right — will not call for force or fear. Once operated within the rules of dog psychology, improving dog obedience will be less harsh but FAR MORE EFFECTIVE.

By following Rule #3 (together with Rule #1 and Rule #2) you will find a more effective way that will surely leave a mark on your dogs.

Now, if you’re new to the concept of the Doggy Dan Five Golden Rules, you might have questions about Rule #3 such as:

  • Is it OK for my dog to sit on the couch with me?
  • What do I do when my dog invades my space?
  • When my dog drops their toy on my feet is this invading my space?
  • If I deny my dog’s request for attention, when can I pat my dog?
  • Can I pat my dog when he is sitting by my feet?
  • My dog barks at me if I don’t give her attention, what should I do?
  • How long should I wait until I take my dog for a walk?
  • How do I make my dog see me as the leader if I have a very big dog?
  • Can I let my dog on the bed? And if so, when?

…and so much more.

My program, the Dog Calming Code talks extensively about Rule Number Three and the Five Golden Rules of Dog Training. If you’re a dog owner looking into improving both dog obedience and dog behavior, this is your comprehensive and complete guide.

You can learn more about the Doggy Dan Dog Calming Code here.

~ Doggy Dan

Doggy Dan

Doggy Dan is the founder of The Online Dog Trainer, a wildly successful online training program for dog owners. His goal is to continue to share his unique approach to dog training with like-minded people who wish to make a difference in the world of dogs. His training methods focus on creating and building the connection between dogs and dog owners, and are shared and used around the world.

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