Does your dog engage in seemingly sweet, subtle, manipulative behavior such as nudging you for affection, forcing a ball in your lap, mouthing your hand, or pawing you when you sit on the couch? Or does he display more of an insistent, aggression dog dominance when commanding your attention?
In either event, you have a dog dominance behavior problem. Your dog seeks to control and manipulate you, and it will not become so cute over time. These dog behaviors can lead to demands that drive friends away, prevent your children from hearing the serious message you are trying to tell them, make someone trip and fall, lead to nipping or biting, and more. It is neither pleasant nor safe.
So then, how do you make Fido stop? What can you do to assert your authority and gain your leadership position over this dog dominance behavior?
First, always make your dog sit or lie down, a submissive posture, for a treat, food, or prior to going out for a walk. Make the dog wait until he is calm for ANYTHING … You will soon thank yourself!
Your dog should ALWAYS walk beside or behind you when on his daily outing, never in the lead. Remember the Leader-Follower Rule. Note how calm a dog is when following an owner, and how on edge he is when he is in front in the control position.
To gain your dog's full respect, your comportment and attitude must command that respect. One aid to help you exude authority in a manner the dog actually senses and smells, is your intensely positive FOCUS. Stand tall and concentrate on something that makes you feel very proud.
I think about a very unruly dog I once trained on and off leash, and the look on the owner's face when he arrived some weeks later. As he came through the wide opened doorway, upon seeing the previously wild dog seated calmly behind my friend, he exclaimed: "This cannot be the same dog!" That makes me smile, fill my lungs, and thrust my head up and shoulders square with powerful inner assurance!
Another dog training tip: If your dog is lying down in your path but not sound asleep, do NOT step over him or go around him. Instead, nudge him gently with your foot, tell him to move, or get his attention some other appropriate fashion. He has to move for you, NOT you for him! He will soon understand this without your having to do anything. Then, like my Border Collie, he will just get up and move out of the way when he senses you need to pass. Otherwise, he begins to feel in control and may also become a safety hazard, rising unexpectedly as you step over and causing you to fall.
As much fun as you may have with it, roughhousing and growly games with your dog are certainly not recommended – especially not with young ones who have not yet learned proper relationship boundaries and protocols. Note that even older dogs can gravitate from play to serious control actions, too. I have received and seen too many accidental bites and worked with too many unbalanced dogs as a result of this! I even have a friend whose three-year-old Dalmatian had to be put down after a pattern of roughhousing with her little brother. It reached the point that the dog carried the rough control into the house, not playing any longer – ultimately biting the child and drawing blood more than once! Let dogs roughhouse with each other.
Even games like tug-a-war between you and your dog are not good. Let dogs play it with each other, instead. Yes, that colorful rope you bought just begs you to take one end for your dog's delight. I watch my two dogs as they play this game … and the victor gains power! It boosts his self-confidence. If you win, you lessen him in his eyes, and if you give in or simply lose hold of the rope, in his mind he has just gained power over you!
No, your dog needs to be secure and confident IN YOU and not feel competitive with you. This way, it is a win-win situation for you and your dog, and YOU can be the TOP DOG – the confident leader of the pack!
by Rena Murray