Recognising dominance

Dog owners read this list –

  • Demanding
  • Pushing a toy into you or pawing in order to get you to play with them
  • Sitting in high places looking down on everything
  • Jumping or putting their paws on you
  • Walking in front of you while on a lead
  • Licking (giving kisses) in a determined and focused manner

Sound like a dog you know? The above are common behaviors displayed by dogs when they believe they are above their humans i.e The Alpha in the pack. Couldn’t relate any of the above to a dog? Don’t worry, there are plenty more to choose from below.

Keep in mind that a dog does not have to display all of these behaviors to be in a dominant frame of mind –  

  • Stubbornness
  • Headstrong and willful
  • Pushiness
  • Begging
  • Nudging
  • Guarding you from others approaching. You like to call it ‘protecting’ but it’s actually ‘claiming’. Your dog owns you.
  • Barking or whining at humans which many owners consider “talking” (without a command to do so).
  • Persistence about being on a particular piece of furniture when you ask them to stay off. Your dog owns it.
  • Persistence about going in and out doorways before humans
  • Not listening to known commands
  • Dislikes people touching their food
  • Standing proud on a human lap
  • Persistence about being on top, be it your lap or stepping on your foot
  • Persistence about where they sleep i.e. on your pillow
  • Likes to sleep on top of you
  • Not liking to be left alone and getting overly excited upon your return
  • Standing over you or your foot/ leg

I won’t lie, I can pick out a few of the above behaviors that I’ve seen in both of my dogs, one more so than the other, but I’m aware of it. I have 2 dogs so these behaviors are often displayed between the two of them (in order to defend who is above who), although we do get the odd paw slap and domination stand over from Ziggy.

These pictures show fantastic examples of domination from puppy to adult –

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I will admit, I was oblivious to this behavior when Ziggy was a puppy (most dog owners are) and because of it, it has been carried on into her adulthood. Cute and funny when they’re a puppy but dangerous when they’re an adult and especially if gone unnoticed or ignored.

If your dog exhibits any display of dominance it’s important you recognise and control it. Don’t laugh it off and try not to encourage it.

I could believe my dogs are perfect but then I’d be in-denial. I could pretend I’ve never witnessed any of these behaviors but then I’d be ignorant. I could say I like my dog licking and pawing but then I’d be encouraging. Therefore I’d be the creator – which we often are whether we like to admit it or not – Carlie

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