Just like people, dogs come in a variety of personalities. Some dogs are passive and timid while others are dominant and outgoing. Dogs that are deemed “dominant” by trainers or handlers may exhibit difficult-to-handle behaviors like aggression, pulling on leashes, mounting dogs or people and stealing food off of human plates. Fortunately, there are ways to make life with the dominant dog a bit easier.
In a wild environment, dogs exhibit dominance as a way of communicating with one another and ensuring access to resources. Dominant dogs generally get more food, more mates and a higher level of respect than non-dominant dogs. Dominance is generally established through factors like sex, age, physical strength and size. Dogs establish this entrenched behavior by fighting and posturing.
The Line between Dominance and Aggression
While many pet parents confuse dominance and aggression as being one and the same, this is not true. A dog can be dominant without being aggressive. Dominant dogs will not necessarily become aggressive with dogs or other humans. If pet parents see signs of aggression such as snarling, biting, or barking, it may be time to get help.
What to Do with the Dominant Dog
Although the line between dominance and aggression is clear, dominant dogs may become aggressive when handled incorrectly by humans. For this reason, it is important to ensure you are following these tips when interacting with a dominant dog:
- Stay Calm: Dominant dogs will not respond to dominant handlers. For this reason, it is especially important to remain calm when disciplining or interacting with the dominant dog. When a pet parent becomes upset or angry, this energy will transfer to the dog, exacerbating the already dominant energy and creating a prime environment for aggression.
- Say “No” and Mean it: Dominant dogs need boundaries even more than non-dominant dogs. In order for a dominant dog to be a good pet and companion, it is important for pet parents to establish rules and boundaries. For example, if you decide that the dog is not allowed on the couch, do not change your mind and allow the dog up every now and again. This will result in the dominant dog taking advantage of you and setting his own rule.
- Respect the Dog: Dominant dogs are not often affectionate and this is just fine. Trying to force a dog to show affection is a great way to invoke aggression and make the dog fearful and resentful of human contact.
- Keep the Dog’s Mind Busy: Dominant dogs are generally intelligent and driven and, because of this, they do well with a job. By providing the dog with a sport or class to take part in, you can help channel excess energy and keep the dog happy and engaged.
Living with a dominant dog is a great adventure. Dominant dogs are intelligent and creative. With these tips, pet parents can start to understand and engage their dominant dogs more effectively. Need more help? Ask a question here on Lovepets...
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