Dog Dominance Behavior

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Dog Dominance Behavior

Dogs often display their dominance to gain a hold over their territory. While this is appreciated and required in the wild, it will be hard to cope if a dog is dominant in a domestic setting.

Dog dominance behavior is commonly found and most dog owners often look for ways to suppress the aggression.

If you are dealing with dog dominance and want to correct your dog’s unwanted behavior, you need to understand the signs of dominance.

Dominant dogs get aggressive when they see children and other animals. They try to bite and scare them to prove their dominance.

While it is their natural instinct to be dominant, not all dominant behaviors can be accepted. As a responsible dog owner, you need to learn to tackle and train your dog to stop his aggression.


How do dogs show dominance?
·       Guarding you from other dogs/people
·       Leash pulling
·       Always trying to steal attention
·       Refusing to obey your command
·       Demanding play or treat by putting things in your lap
·       Constant licking
·       Showing refusal by jumping, growling and nipping
·       Focused staring
·       Getting aggressive, especially with small children
·       Attempt to herd people and other animals
·       Barking all the time
Causes for dominant dog behavior:
·       Lack of training
·       Lack of socialization
·       Environmental factors
·       Underlying medical condition

A common mistake dog owners commit is accepting their dog’s dominant behavior considering it as ‘normal’.

Many dog owners fail to discipline their dogs from the beginning, giving them opportunity to escalate their aggressive behavior. 

If your dog is showing signs of dominance and you are not taking it seriously, take note, you need to be ready to deal with dog dominance problems later on.

Dog dominance behavior can occur in any breed, in both females and males. However, it is more common in males. If you’ve got a puppy and are noticing signs of aggression, please take steps to discipline him right away. 

It will be difficult to deal with and change his behavior as he gets older.

Now you know the causes, it is easy to get your dog on track. Train him from the very beginning and make it clear to him what behavior is acceptable and what not.

Slowly introduce him to other people and animals, right from when he is a puppy. If you got an adult dog, teach him how to behave with the others.

Dominant dogs don’t like being instructed. If you are trying to correct your dog’s behavior, he may refuse your command initially.

However, if you can dominate and make him obey, you can share a fantastic bonding with your dog.


Here are ways to handle a dominant dog:

Stay calm and confident

Dogs are sensitive. They can make out if you are anxious. Dominant dogs will act even aggressive if they sense your nervousness.

So, try to be as calm and assertive as possible when trying to handle a dominant dog. Your dog will stop barking and jumping once he learns you are confident and do not accept his dominance.

Set boundaries and rules

You should make your rules clear from the time you get the dog into your house. A few rules and boundaries will definitely suppress his dominant behavior.

For instance, the need to seek your permission to enter your bedroom, not getting food until he stops barking and punishment for failing to obey you.

Show affection only when he comes to you

Never pamper your dominant dog. This will even establish him as the leader. The trick is to wait for him to come to you.

We know you love your dog and would want to cuddle him but please understand disciplining should come first.

Do not shower your affection when he is showing dominance, this will further motivate him to continue his behavior.

Use the feeding time to correct dog dominance behavior

Do not offer treats or food to your dog when he is not obeying you. He should understand he will not get his meals until he is calm.

Wait for him to get submissive and offer him food only after he calms down.

Dog Training

Try to correct your dominant dog’s behavior by setting rules and limitations. However, if you are unable to change the way he behaves, you should start looking for dog training classes.

Trained professionals know how to deal with dog dominance and work to make your dog fit for a domestic environment.

More Tips

·       As mentioned earlier, you need to stay calm and positive when handling a dominant dog. 

But this doesn’t mean you should allow him to bark and jump at you. Stay cool but firm.

Raise your voice and say ‘stop’ when he is aggressive and if he calms down immediately, offer him a treat. On the other hand, if he gets even aggressive, show him his place to be until he calms down.

·       While some dogs are naturally aggressive, some others develop aggression due to a change in their diet. 

Some foods can upset a dog’s system and you need to check your dog’s diet if he suddenly changes his behavior. Consult your vet and seek suggestions if your dog is not behaving normally.

·       Your dominant dog thinks your rules do not apply to him. 

He tries to continue and even intensifies his aggressive behavior if he gets to know you get nervous when handling him. It is therefore important you learn the tricks and tips. 

Make him understand you are the leader, and he should follow and come to you. If you give in, forget disciplining him.

When handling a dominant dog, make sure to give instructions first. You can praise and offer what he wants only after he obeys you.

Dog dominance should not be taken lightly, especially if you have small children and aged parents at home. Follow the above tips and develop a special bonding with your furry companion.

about the author

Frank Harrigan

Frank loves tacos and dogs - the good, bad and ugly sides of dog ownership.

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