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Dog Dominance Behavior

Updated on November 7, 2009

Dog Dominance Behavior - What Is It?

What excatly is Dog Dominance Behavior? What are the symptoms of Dominance Behavior in Dogs? What do I do if my dog is being dominant? Is dominant behavior in a dog really such a big deal? All these questions and more are answered here. Welcome!

Dog Dominance Behavior

A dominant dog, or a dog showing dominant behavior... It is a very common problem as well as a popular term in this day and age. But few people really know what it means. Or how to deal with it.

Dominance is the art of keeping everything under control. There are symptoms of Dog Dominance Behavior, and then there's the dog who is truly being dominant... We sure have a mess here don't we?

What Are Some Symptoms Of Dog Dominance Behavior?

Symptoms of Dog Dominance Behavior include, among others, such things as:

-- Refusing to move out of your way

-- Blocking your ability to where you want to go

-- Stealing and hiding your stuff

-- Destroying your things

-- Peeing on your bed

-- Pooping on your bed

-- Stealing your food

-- Ignoring commands that he knows well

-- Demanding your attention through nudges, whining, or mouthing you

-- Growling at you

-- Humping you, your guests, or things

-- Mounting you, your guests, or things

-- Guarding food or toys

-- Putting your stuff in his area

Note: The dog was only playing in this picture. DogWhisperWoman Rena Murray knows the difference. Do you?

If My Dog Does One Of These Things, How Do I Know He's Really Being Dominant?

Some of these behaviors such as nudging may just be attention seeking behavior. The question is, does your dog start yapping or nipping at you when you ignore him? If the answer is yes, it is a dominance issue. But a dog who goes in the corner and sighs is simply pouting.

A dog who does not come when called may be that way only because he is confused, thanks to no consistency in his life. That is neglect on the part of the owner, not dominance on the part of the dog.

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How Do I Handle A Dominant Dog?

Iron sharpens iron...

Remember at all times, "Iron sharpens iron." Yelling at a dog who has already shown his teeth at you is likely to result in you being bitten. Stay calm and mean business. Follow through one hundred percent, and make no excuses for your dog.

He is to work for his food and earn his play and free time. Those are privileges and not rights.

"Work?" That means at least 45 minutes of rigorous exercise where he is mentally focused on you. He can swim, run, walk, carry a backpack, walk on a treadmill, pull a cart... You name it. But his brain needs to be focused on YOU.

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You Can't Get On Your Bed!

A Real Life Show-Down With A Dominant Dog

You've got to be kidding! You're the one who paid for it. But the audacity . . . There he is, peeing right in the middle of your bed, and snarling at you when you try to change the linen or get in it!

The dog does not care if you paid for it. Dogs don't see things that way. If you are being weak about something, not showing that you own it, then . . . in his mind, it's free for the taking.

So what are you supposed to do?

Put a leash on your dog and lead him on a heel into the bedroom. Followers go behind leaders. If he jumps on the bed, promptly remove him from it and sit him down in an assigned place. Sit down on the bed yourself while making eye contact with your dog, so he is getting the message that YOU own the bed. Stretch out on it. Roll over on it. Show him who owns it!

Never pick your dog up to remove him. He needs to walk or jump off. Otherwise, you did the work, not him.

If your dog moves from the assigned place without your permission, bring him back promptly.

you notice there are not really a lot of words here, but the communication is serious, and your point is being driven in.

I Can't Touch My Dog's Food!

Food is something a dominant dog really uses to empower himself. So what is going on here?

I can't really understand why anyone would really want to put their hands in the dog's food. It makes no sense. But the point is, your dog should not be able to stop you from touching anything in your home. Him being the subordinate, and you the dominant, means that you are able to touch anything and everything that you have chosen to share with him.

You should be able to take food right out of your dog's mouth, if you so choose. It's not actually taking it from the dog that you do. It's knowing that you CAN. It's being safe in that fact.

To "claim" a dog's food, you need to be shown in person by an expert. A mistake on your part can result in a very nasty bite. But the way to control your dog's behavior around food is to make him wait for it.

Put a leash on him and remove him if you have to. The minute he growls at you or he grows stiff, use the leash to remove him right away. It is not a quick fix. It is staying there until you accomplish your goal.

"Playing With Dog Dominance"

Biting Dog

I Am Afraid Of My Dog -- She Has Bitten Me

You dog has bitten you?

If that is the case, you already know in your heart of hearts that you need professional help. This is dog dominance advanced to aggression.

Do NOT go to a dog obedience class. You need a dog behaviorist at least. A traditional trainer will generally refuse to work with even a level one biter. They usually say the dog is untrainable and recommend euthanasia. Or at least they help you train the dog to sit and stay, but he's still a biter!

Find the behaviorist, and be prepared to face your fear of your dog. . . and regain control of your house!

Am I Going To Stress My Dog Out By Becoming His Pack Leader?

No! Consider the wild wolf...

If I become "pack leader" to my dominant dog, will that stress him out?

No! Just look at the wild wolf.

Put an alpha wolf alone with an omega. The alpha's heart rate is steady, while the omega's is like a jack hammer. The alpha is totally in control, and it takes very little of his energy to control this low ranking wolf.

When the pack is all together, the alpha's heart rate goes up due to the pressure of all his responsibilities. The omega's heart rate has then gone way down, because he has nothing to worry about. So actually by becoming your dog's alpha, you are decreasing his stress and yours. The stress of having a dog who pushes you around is horrible!

And One More Thing

If dog dominance is your problem, do NOT be ashamed or embarrassed to ask for help. Please get it. We all need help from someone at one time or another. And yeah, it really is a serious thing. Dominance behavior in dogs often leads to aggression.

If you need help with dog dominance or dog aggression problems, contact Rena Murray for a consultation. Provide the information she requests on Paw Persuasion - Solve Dog Dominance Behavior Problems to get fast, accurate, tailored and effective solutions - So you can enjoy a right relationship with your dog!

Please Sign Our Dog Dominance Behavior Guestbook - Do you have a dog dominance problem? What are your dog behavior problems?

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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      my dog jumps up and bites my hand when i come home, she also barks and gets crazy when we hold her. why is she doing this and how can i stop it?? she also REFUSES to be potty trained! i can be so consistent and put her out every 30 minutes and she will go out there, we'll be out there for 20 min or more and she won't go adn she'll run back inside and pee!! if i lock her out there she'll run through the fence and bark at the front door. help!

    • lewisgirl profile image


      6 years ago

      great lens. Yes, my dog thinks she is the pack leader. We are working on it. Good info here!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      my two year old male gold lab jumps and nips me when i meet new company and new dogs , what can i do

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      my husky will give up her bone to me when I say leave it, but she won't give it up when she really starts chewing it( she growls and stiffens her body) how should I show her that I am alpha. She is also very dominent with other dogs ( likes to play pretty rough) how can I make her more submissive and relaxed???? Thanx

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I have an 11 month husky and when i'm sitting on the floor she backs into me. I have never had a dog do that, what does it mean?

    • Timewarp profile image


      8 years ago from Montreal

      Thank you for visiting us at the Dog Park Headquarters this lens has been added, don't forget to go vote yourself up!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Good Information. I have pet related lens. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Good Information. I have pet related lens. Thanks for sharing.

    • cannedguds lm profile image

      cannedguds lm 

      10 years ago

      My beagle is doing some of these things, too, and sometimes, it's even choosy of the food. My darling Beagle is always dominating me and I need help how to get rid of this behavior. That's why, I'm very lucky to have come across this lens of yours. I know this can help me a lot! I love my Beagle so much and I even have his pics all over my Beagle checks ! I own a lot of dogs and Russell is just one of my favorites! thanks for sharing your 5-star lens!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Your lenses really provide some great info. My 6 month old lab mix had a dominance problem put with proper training and love we conquered that behavior. Well done. **Dog Agility Training Videos**

    • RuthCoffee profile image

      Ruth Coffee 

      10 years ago from Zionsville, Indiana

      Good information, people need to realize they can work with behavior..there are often options other than giving the dog up.

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Other than terrier-mix Rigsby hiding toys under the bed and sometimes humping the big dogs as a statement of control, fortunately I never had a real dog dominance behavior problem. It's scary and serious. Great info.***** The Caregiver

    • Guinness LM profile image

      Guinness LM 

      11 years ago

      Many people don't recognize dog dominance behavior for what it is. Thanks for the excellent instruction! 5 stars and favorites - Best Dog Health Care Solutions to your Dog Health Problems

    • Gatsby LM profile image

      Gatsby LM 

      11 years ago


    • DogWhisperWoman1 profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago

      5* Dog Dominance is very serious indeed. Pitbull Dog


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