Dominant Dog


The dominant dog is not necessarily an aggressive dog but can become so depending on the circumstances involved. He can be a perfectly loving dog as long as you do everything on his own terms .This doesn't make him a bad dog and indeed most of the time he will be a great dog. It is a matter of genetic profiling that demands that on occasion he will act this way. Take the example of a hunting dog whose survival depends on his ability to hunt or the bulldog who is genetically engineered to maximise his success at fighting bulls. In these cases it is expected that the dog will have a stubborn and resilliance to his character sometimes to an extreme degree. What is not quite as expected is the fact that every dog no matter the breed or its role in life may have these characteristics and in most domestic situations the modes of behaviour that can result as a manifestation of what are in reality are seen as "uncivilised" at worst and unsociable/unacceptable at best. This is where the dog must be helped to leave aside his natural wild instincts to ensure that his life ( and yours as the dog owner!) is a joy rather than a chore. This is achieved by reprogramming the dog through a behavioural training course.

The dog 's determination in getting what he wants from you will depend to an extent on how tolerant or overtolerant you have been of his behaviour.

When you choose a dog is of the utmost importance that you get a dog that matches your personality. Energy, temperament , strength and size are important factors to be considered when choosing the right dog for you and your family.Not choosing the family dog correctly is the reason why so very many humanitarian groups rescuing dogs from all walks of life are required.A wrong match can sadly result in the owner becoming overwhelmed and sees the only option as giving the dog away.In Scotland, especially,due to the inclement weather most family dogs live inside the house. The result of this is that the dog becomes humanized which is one of the most common reasons for a dog becoming dominant and out of control.

The characteristics that a dominant dog displays is that he pulls while onthe leash demonstrating that he wants to be the boss , the leader . Another tell tale sign may be that when you are reading the paper or watching the tv the dog demands that you pet him and if you do so but then stop the petting he will nudge you with his paws or head until you "obey" his demand that he gets the attention he is seeking. A dominant dog will expect to pass through a doorway or walk along a narrow path ahead of you as he believes he has the absolute right of "first place" .Since dogs are pack animals, you and the other humans he comes into contact with are all part of the pack.As far as your dog is concerned, no pack can exist without a leader and that leader is either you or it's him. That's the way it has to be. You may think that the ideal situation would be that you can treat your dog as an equal and that there is no need to establish who has the dominant role and who has the subservient role. This works in the world of humans (in theory at least!!) but is not the order of the animal kingdom and certainly not the dog kingdom You can indeed be on " best friend" terms with your dog , but for the well-being of your dog you must be the one in charge.

Few dogs actively seek leadership and most are perfectly content for you to assume that role AND YOU MUST DO SO or even the meekest of dogs will try to take over. Remember, it's not a matter of choice. For every one's safety, you have to be the one in charge and he must be in no doubt whatsoever about this otherwise he imagines himself to be "the boss" and that can only lead to trouble on all fronts . In the dog's mind if he is allowed to be the leader of the pack( and remember his pack comprises of all those other dogs and humans he comes into contact with) he is entitled to exercise what I will refer to as:-

The Leader of The Pack's Bill of Rights .

  • I. To eat first, gorge himself, and have an indisputable right to any left overs.
    2. To stand, sit, or lie down whe never and wherever he may wish.
    3. To have access to the 'prime' spots in the house.
    4. To control entry to or from any room in the house.
    5. To proceed through all narrow openings first.
    6. To initiate "the hunt" and dictate where to hunt ( for example when playing with a ball, frisbee or stick)
    7. To make the 'kill' at the end of the hunt.(ie who decides when the game ends)
    8. To demand attention from subordinate pack members.
    9. To ignore or actively discourage unwanted attention.
    10. To restrict the movements of lesser ranking pack members.
    11. To win all games.

  • By carefully studying this Bill of Rights you can tell who is at the moment the pack leader in your house. If you think it's your dog you must effect a role reversal and establish that you or a member of your family becomes pack leader. This can be achieved by adhering to the following "do's" and 'don'ts."

  • How to Establish yourself/chosen family member as a Pack Leader :
  • DO :
    · Eat before your dog
    · Restrict access to your bedrooms and furniture
    · Take the shortest route to your destination and make your dog move out of your way
    · Proceed first through narrow passages
    · Run in the opposite direction if your dog 'takes off' on a walk- dont chase after him.
    · Take your dog's 'kills' ("stolen" articles or food) away from him immediately and without any hesitation.
    · Call your dog to come to you when you want to pat him/ show him affection
    · Ignore or discourage pawing, nudging. whining
    · Restrict his movements with the 'Long Down' exercise
    · Initiate games with your dog, make sure you win them and end up with possession of the toy
    · Reward your dog for completing an exercise well

  • DON'T
  • · Feed your dog first
    · Let your dog sleep in or on your bed
    · Let your dog restrict your access to anything in the house or take up residence in the doorway
    · Let your dog bound out of the door ahead of you so that he's "leading"
    · Chase your dog yelling 'COME!'
    · Allow your dog to keep or play with "the kill"
    · Give attention whenever your dog demands it from you
    · Make a large fuss over your dog whenever he demands that you do so
    · Play games, especially tug of war, if you can't win, or give the toy to your dog after the game is over
    · Give more than one command, or any command if you are not prepared to reinforce it
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