Dominance: What Is Your Dog Really Saying?


Obviously puppies and dogs cannot talk the way we can and express their feelings. Sometimes what we mistake for dominance is them actually trying to tell us something different. Do you know the difference? Hopefully, this blog will help.

Barking at You:

You Think: your dog is barking to take his position as leader of the pack or threaten you.

Dogs can be barking for numerous reasons: they see or hear something/someone, or they are barking excessively due to fear, boredom, or anxiety.

To correct this: Teach your dog to bark (speak) on command, and also teach them to be quiet on command. If you yell at them, or give them a lot of attention when they bark, it reinforces their bad behavior.

Dog Marking/Urinating in House:

You think: She or He’s showing you that they “own” the territory.

Could Mean:

1. That your house training skills have lacked and haven’t been 100%.

2. Dog has an underlying medical condition.

3. Unneutered dogs will mark more often.

To Correct This Issue: 

1. Go back to square one on potty training.

2. You must keep a close eye on dog and let him/her out when they have to go. Praise them for doing their business outside.

3. Take your dog to vet to be certain there is not a medical condition causing this.

Your Dog Is Crazy in the Kitchen–Eating Everything In Sight

You think: it’s a dominant thing, he/she is trying to control the kitchen eat ahead of you and control you

What’s really happening: Dog’s are scavengers, their noses can smell food a mile a way, they will go to all extremes to get it first.

To Correct This: 

Teach your dog to stay out of kitchen during preparation of meals and while you’re eating. Also teach them to stay off counters.

Dog Jumping on You:

You think: He or she is being dominant and trying to be bigger than you–again taking that top dog position

What really is happening: your dog loves you, wants your attention, and usually gets a response from you when he/she jumps.

To Correct This:

Teach your dog to stay off you and others, only to jump “up” when you command. Only give them positive attention and affection when they have all four paws on the floor/ground.

Dog Pulls On The Leash:

You think: He/She is pulling to get ahead and show dominance.

What may be happening: the dog has never been properly leash trained and pulls because he/she is excited about the new smells and everything it sees.

To Correct This:

Teach the dog how to walk on a loose leash, don’t allow them to pull. Also teach them to heel. Reinforce good behavior and when the dog stays by your side.

Dog Pushes Through and Bolts Out the Door Ahead of You

You think: Dog is again trying to show dominance by being top dog and thinking it doesn’t have to obey you.

What really may be happening: just like on a walk a dog gets excited easily by what’s on the other side of the door and doesn’t know the difference of waiting and having manners unless it’s been taught.

To Correct This:

Train the dog to sit a distance away from the door and only to proceed through the door when you say it is okay. Always go out or in a door first to teach your dog patience. You can also get baby gates to block them from running throughout the house.

Dog Ignores You When You Call Them

You think: dog is ignoring you to show who’s boss.

What really may be happening: your dog is distracted, or has not been taught properly how to come.

To Correct This:

Teach your dog to come by always rewarding him/her with something awesome. Never discipline a dog for coming to you, never do something they don’t like when you call them (bath, etc).

Dogs Mount Other Dogs

You think: they are doing this to show dominance to the other dogs.

What really may be happening: dogs often do this as a playful gesture, taking turns, while playing and rough housing. 

To Correct This:

Whether it’s happening to you or other dogs, simply give them an “off” command and you can stop the play for a few seconds, give them a short time out, and let them resume again. Keep doing this as necessary. They’ll catch on pretty quickly–that this sort of play is not acceptable.

Dogs Get On The Furniture 

You think: they are doing it to show that they rule the house.

What may be happening: dogs are just like us, they like comfy, cozy things to sit and lay on.

To Correct This:

Teach them the “off” command and have a comfy dog bed on the floor that they can lay on.

by Lisa Freeman, an award-winning author, speaker, and AKC Dog Trainer and Certified Pet Therapist from Owosso, Michigan who specializes in obedience, pet therapy, service dog training, agility, and behavior modification. Contact Lisa Freeman today

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