Or why can't my dog and I just be friends? You can...but only if you're the boss. That's the way it is and that's the way it has to be. Dogs are pack animals and like it or not your family is the pack. And like all packs there has to be a leader. No if's ands or but's. Either you call the shots or guess what? Your dog will. And that won't be very good for either of you.
Reggie is a Lab whose owner Debbie let him do as he pleased. Not because she didn't care, but because she loved him. In her eyes, Reggie could do no wrong until the day he took off after a squirrel. "Stop?" Come! Down! She kept shouting. Reggie paid no attention. The squirrel was more important and Reggie just kept going and going to the end of the street and across a busy intersection. Horns honked, brakes screeched and only dumb luck kept Reggie from being run over.
Then there was Lucy, the cute terrier mix. She jumped on anyone that came through the front door. Jack thought it was cute. "Isn't she cute?" is what he always said to everyone. Then one day his elderly mother came for a visit. Lucy was so happy to see her she did the unthinkable. She flattened his mother. Lucy was not so cute anymore.
And let's not forget Sam the Doberman pup that had a habit of putting his mouth on anyone he thought was challenging him. What Bill and Carol thought was puppy play, turned out to be aggression. Unless that kind of behavior is recognized and nipped in the bud, you may find yourself living with a loaded gun instead of a best friend.
No responsible parent, no matter how much they love their child, would let a two year old run their family. The child would be impossible to live with, and a nuisance to others at best. Well the same holds true for dogs.
So what do you do? Start by establishing yourself as the boss or pack leader from the moment you bring your new dog home. Now that doesn't mean yelling or hitting. It means communicating in a way the dog will understand. Then, as soon as possible, housebreak your dog. Teach him to walk on a leash, come when called, and to stay in place on command. Bad habits such as chewing on furniture or nipping the hand that feeds him should be stopped before it has a chance to get started. And always have your dog do something for you before you do something for your dog. Have her sit before you feed her, before you pet her, even before you walk her.
Unless you're really experienced, joining an obedience class is an excellent idea. A good instructor will teach you how to teach your dog and your dog will learn how to behave around other dogs and people. But more important, if you want to be your dog's best friend...be your dog's best friend first and that means being the boss.