Dogs and humans think very differently, so when people overly cater to their dog, the dog may assume the role of Alpha or pack leader. This can become a nightmare for the owner(s) as well as a burden to the dog, who takes on the role of the protector and leader. Dogs are happiest when they feel safe, protected, and taken care of by their owners. Then they can enjoy just playing and being a dog.
There are many subtle things we can do to teach our dogs that we are the pack leaders in charge. For example, for dogs who are overly possessive with their food, we can pretend to eat some of their food first before we serve them. You can also get your partner and kids to take a bite too, to show them that we are all higher-ranking pack members. This is important to help the dogs realize that they cannot play with the children as they would with another puppy.
Never give in to a barking or whining dog as this will reinforce unwanted behavior. Simply ignore them and wait until your dog quiets down for a period of a few seconds up to minutes. Then you can pay attention to your dog again and you will all enjoy the same affection, only in a calmer state. You must repeat an action until the dog learns it, even if it takes several tries.
Positive reinforcement helps dogs feel like a valuable pack member and strive to follow your commands and be your loyal companion. Dogs feed off our emotions, so keeping ourselves calm teaches our dogs that there is nothing to worry about and they can just relax.