Some owners worry about dominant dogs in their household. Admittedly, some of the traits associated with dominant dog behaviors are negative, such as growling at people, jumping and nipping. But dominant traits should not be considered as a barrier to having a successful relationship with a pet. Let’s explore what constitutes dominance and how owners can successfully manage the relationship with their dogs.
First, we must approach dominance by understanding it is not aggression. Dominance will simply exhibit itself as a desire to be in charge of how things run. A dominant dog will want everything to be as he wishes. This is often confused with an aggressive dog that does have the desire to cause harm. Clearly, a dog may exhibit both dominance and aggression, but they are separate issues.
Dominant and submissive dog behavior is a natural result of the animal kingdom, where equality does not exist between the animals. All dogs who meet will quickly establish a behavior according to their dominant qualities. If a dog is more dominant by nature, the more likely he will be to exhibit strong behaviors. There is a strong genetic link to dominance, along with the training environment to which the dog is exposed. Remember that while certain behaviors can be modified through training, a dominant dog will be a dominant dog forever.
Some dominant behaviors are enjoyable, such as pushing a toy into you in order to get you to play with them, or nudging to be petted. The dominant dog will be very demonstrative about what he wants, which can make it easier as a pet owner to provide for the dog’s needs. For those behaviors that are less desirable, dominant dogs are normally quick learners and can be conditioned to behave properly.
Ensure that control is exerted over any situation, whether making the dog wait for a treat (instead of jumping up and taking it from the hand) or only allowing the dog to jump up on a couch when invited. This will make a dominant dog more mindful and more likely to listen to commands. Do not use force that could escalate into retaliation from the dog, but instead use “time outs” in the crate to help the dog understand what behavior is not acceptable. Above all, be consistent so that the dog can learn quickly. These simple tips can ensure a happy household with a dominant dog.