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Do You Have a Dominant Dog?

dominant dog
Learn How to Begin To Shift the Power Dynamics Between Your Dog and Yourself

Most likely you do not have a dog with a naturally dominant personality.  However, it is  more likely that you have given a lot of leeway and privileges  to your dog which can result in a dog who thinks it has the “right” to make decisions for the owner.  In addition, many owners use use the word “protective” when describing a dog that is actually possessing them like an object.  Dogs with a high sense of self-importance will possess objects as their own, because the top dog of any canine group does have legitimate ownership of all resources.

In a dog owning household where no human clearly takes the lead, the dog is left to fill the status void and often assumes the lead and all of the rights and privileges of this “high office”,  so to speak. When this happens the following behaviors are commonly seen:

-Excessive guarding of objects and property including being possessive or jealous of the owner or their attention

-Pulling on the leash

-Biting at the leash, objecting when owners attempt to control him.
 
-Talking back
 
-Demanding attention
 
-Leash aggression towards other dogs
 
-Excessive protection of the home and yard

-Failure to obey commands when they are distracted or have different priorities (dogs will disregard commands from members of their own social group with lower status than their own.)

To effectively address all of the issues,  changes in the household must lower your dog’s sense of status in the family pack. This is not done through force or intimidation, but through a focused effort of less freedom and more rules and consistent follow through overtime. You, the human, need to have the highest status in the household relationship, so that the dog can come off of “high alert” while they are living and working together with you and will defer to their human in situations when response and obedience is crucial.
 

Training addresses a dog’s behavior in real-time in response to owner control because in the scenario the owner will be able to disallow the dog’s natural urges. The urge is still there, but the owner can disallow it, with training. The owner can disallow unwanted behavior as long as they have earned the dog’s respect as the rule setter, boundary maker and legitimate leader, and the dog willingly defers. Obedience training refers to the working relationship between the owner and the dog and the owners ability to disallow the dog’s natural urges. It does not remove natural urges or instinct. It can control them when the dog is under the owner’s control. When the dog is on his own, off-leash, away from the owner, however, he will act on his own, controlled by his personal instinct.

 

The desire or ability to “get along” with other dogs is determined by nature and personality. No one can “train” a dog to get along off leash(or on leash) with other dogs. Dogs come with their own individual personalities and sometimes those personalities clash.

 

On leash, one can address manners and control; off-leash, one cannot. This does not mean to allow your dog to go nose to nose with another dog while leashed.  However, training your dog to walk politely on leash can enable you to walk your dog in public without a lot of dog to dog drama!  

 

Start by working on good polite behavior within your own home.  Don’t allow your dog to be pushy or dictate your actions.  If your dog is pushy or demanding completely ignore him.   If he walks away,  you can then move on to the next activity.  There are other techniques you can try if ignoring doesn’t work.

You need to master all indoor activity before being able to address issues outside your home. Use a leash indoors to help guide your dog.  Leashes are helpful tools to quickly gain control.  Once you have immediate responses and polite manners inside your home, take it outside and begin to practice in the presence of other distractions.  Start in your backyard.  Praise any effort your dog makes when he compiles.  Always follow through on any commands.  It is very important to prove to your dog that you will always follow through.  Never try to intimidate or sound angry.  This will work against you and will not help gain your dog’s respect.

 
 
Practice commands that involve your dog holding a “stay” and “recall”( the “come” command).  When your dog complies, praise and feel free to reward his hard work with kibble or a treat.  Finally, be sure you have trained your dog to walk politely on leash, with no pulling.
 
If you don’t know how to introduce or teach these commands, it is well work your time and money to hire a professional to help.
 
 
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About Kids-n-K9s

As a former elementary school teacher and now current dog trainer, I have seen the results of dog bites to children.

I developed Stop, Look and Paws as one tool that can start the process of understanding some basic canine body language and thereby prevent dog bites.

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