Causes of Dog Dominance
Dogs are pack animals, and in any pack there are struggles with dominance. In the wild, this behavior is allowed to play out, but in domestic life, dominance is considered bad manners and can lead to dangerous aggression.
Not all dogs who exhibit dominant behaviors will do so in every situation. Some dogs may be very protective of their “home turf” and will show dominance in his own home or yard area, but will be just fine at a dog park or kennel. Other dogs will display dominant behavior no matter where they are. It is important to recognize the behavior when you see it and curb it as early as possible in order to prevent potential aggression issues in adult dogs.
Dominant behavior in dogs is a situation which can quickly spiral out of control. It is best to try to prevent dominant behavior from developing in the first place, and there are steps that you can take to ensure that your dog does not develop this potentially dangerous behavior.
Often times canine dominance has its roots in the dog's territorial instincts. In many cases, a dog will protect its family or territory, and in males, may be particularly protective of women. A dominant dog will also be more aggressive with playing. The dog needs to feel that they are the “top dog” and have a tendency to try and show that all the time. If you have small children with this type of dog, be cautious of how rough the dog maybe playing. Your children may get hurt with what is considered a challenge to the dog.
Training Tips to Prevent Dog Dominance
One of the best methods that you can use to prevent dominant behavior in your dog is to always use positive reinforcement. Reward good behavior with plenty of praise, petting, and an occasional treat. If your dog disobeys you do not hit, or yell at, your dog. This type of punishment can contribute towards the development of dominant behavior. Instead tell your dog in a firm voice, “No, Bad Dog.” Then place the dog in a timeout area and ignore the dog for a set amount of time. Dogs crave attention and affection; your dog will soon learn that good behavior results in affection and attention, and bad behavior results in no attention at all.
Having rules around the home, and making sure that your dog follows them is also a good way to prevent dominant behavior. Do not feed your dog at the table, do not allow your dog to beg, and do not allow your dog to get on the furniture. Have a set of commands that you want to teach your dog such as sit, lay down, and come. Set limits to your dog’s behavior, and let your dog know what type of behavior is acceptable or not through positive reinforcement.
Dominant behavior in dogs will often develop if the dogs are not spayed or neuter early in life. If you have adopted a dog, make sure that you have the dog spayed or neutered as soon as possible. If you are having troubles controlling your dog, or teaching good behavior, an obedience class may help to get your dog back on track.