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Is Your Dog Stubborn or Dominant? How to Tell the Difference?

Aug 27, 2008
It doesn't really matter whether your dog is a puppy or an adult, spoiled or abused, big or tiny. If you don't pay attention to these certain characteristics, your dog could easily become your boss and may get aggressive with you, with other dogs, or toward your loved ones.

You must be able to recognize these signs from the early start before they get worse. If you notice your dog already being very persistent and even a bit dominant, the last thing you need to do is spoil it rotten and let it get away with murder. You basically would be pouring gasoline on fire. Take kids for example, say a kid is already strong, brave and rebellious AND you go out of your way to spoil it to death. You'll definitely have your work cut out for you and might even end up on the Dr. Phil show for losing your sanity!
Here we go.

Does Your Dog:

* Constantly jump up on you, on others and on kids, regardless of how many times you tell him to stop? Do you always find yourself getting physical trying to restrain him, or else he won't settle down right away?

* Refuse to stop barking, whimpering, scratching, throwing a tantrum inside the crate or when he demands to come in or be let out?

* Squeeze through door the door like a flying bullet and push you out of the way? How about crowding you, pushing you out of the way by making you back up and by stepping in your space every time you ask it to obey a command?

* Respond to commands only if you are holding a treat, eating at the table, or have some sort of treats in your hands? This means: "Look lady. You're not worthy of my time. But, if you have something tasty, then I'll think about it." These dogs, especially around distractions, will ignore even your moist treats and STILL won't respond to you. Sometimes the owners make the horrible mistake of giving their dogs the treats regardless of whether they responded or not. So the dog wins either way!

* Demand your attention and rarely stop misbehaving when you tell him to? You'll notice your dog jumping up on you, getting on your lap, nudging at your hands and he won't care whether you are tired, not in the mood to play, or if you are holding a cup of hot coffee. He will jump up on you even when not invited. "Drop whatever you're doing, Mommy. I need to cuddle and love a tummy rub and I need it RIGHT NOW!"―that's what your dog is saying to himself.

* Keep on barking back at you when you are trying to stop him from an unacceptable behavior. This could be when you are trying to stop him from begging for food, barking back at you, mouthing, and if you happen to stop him from stealing food off tables. Some dogs get on their hind legs and try to stand up to you to challenge you.

* Rarely obeys the commands that she already KNOWS and ignores you in your day-to-day routines. You most likely find yourself getting louder and louder, and end up forcing your dog into a sit or down position. Sometimes you might find yourself grabbing your dog's collar to make her mind, tugging on her leash, or restraining her the entire time so she doesn't embarrass you even more.

* Play-bite on your hands and wrestle you by pushing down on the leash with his paw or worse, sometimes with both paws. (Boxers are famous for this.)

* Jumps up on you and sometimes throws himself on the ground so you can't make him do anything else against his will. Large breeds and spoiled dogs do this all the time and the owners end up picking them up and carrying them like a baby. (Yeah. Try carrying a Bullmastiff, Great Dane or a Saint Bernard!)

* Holds the leash in his mouth when you are in the middle of training or walking him. In your dog's mind, he is walking you! This might seem cute to you and others, but in reality your dog sees you as the "dog" and he has--YOU--on the leash.

* Resists lying down for you on command. You might see your dog trying to compromise by giving you his paw, sitting, barking and even doing a rollover instead. Some of these dogs turn it in their favor and trick you by showing you their stomach and what even funnier is, most of you end up giving them a belly rub after all. Remember, it's a down command! Not a "let me give you a belly rub" command. You probably didn't know this, but the more your dog lies down for you flat on his tummy, the more he is actually submitting to you and sees you as an authority figure.

Here's an interesting fact about the Down Command: If you tell ten dogs to sit for you, eight out of the ten might do it. But if you ask a group of a hundred dogs to do "a down," you'll be lucky if you can get five out of the hundred to do it. Getting your dog to lie down is a great way to establish leadership without being harsh or abusive. Try doing it WITHOUT a biscuit, holding your fingers as if you have a treat, pointing, bending over or slapping the ground. And good luck!

* Keeps getting frustrated and wraps the leash around you, backs away, nips at your hands and feet, starts to lunge and makes noises as if he's gone mad. All this drama and temper-tantrum so you let him get to other dogs, cats, squirrels, kids on wheels or cars driving by. In a way, your dog's trying anything possible to get his way.

* Humping anything that moves or breathes. This is rarely sexual. Most humping are a sign of dominance. Whether it's a certain family member, your kid, your roommate, a poor stuffed animal, your sofa, or even the poor visitor, your dog is desperately trying to assert his dominance by letting them know that "he" is the one in charge here.

* Leans on your foot when you ask her to sit. This sometimes happens when a dog is scared or nervous. However if you notice your dog often sitting on your foot after the sit command, even without any distractions, sudden noise or any other reason you can think of, you better believe that she is trying to dominate you. It's just like the neighborhood bully who loves to lean on that weakest kid in school.

* Out of the blue, urinates or defecates in an inappropriate place to upset you. You know for a fact that your dog is completely housebroken, has been outside, had access to the doggy door, and is NOT sick. It's been weeks and even months since his last accident. This usually happens when you didn't give your dog the attention he wanted. It could also be more serious issues such as: when you leave town, work longer hours, have a change in your schedule, brought a new pet into your home, have a guest over, date someone new, or start training your dog with a new attitude/new ground rules and your dog is upset and retaliates to get back at you. Yes. Dogs do this more than you'd think.

* Is a bit unpredictable when you grab him by his collar. Some of these dogs do back-flips and you can feel your fingers bending backward as you scream in agony. Trainers have dislocated their fingers and injured their wrists with such dogs. Basically, your dog is fighting you and saying, "NO WAY. I am not going to let you hold me against my will. Let's see if you can still hold on to me when I do my psycho move on you." These dogs may act fine in one moment, but then in the next moment, when you grab them by their collar, they try to bite your hand off. Unless you are dealing with a scared or abused dog, which is very unlikely, your dog should let you grab him by his collar at ANY given time. This shows trust and the fact that he truly "respects" you as a leader.

Make sure you seek the help of an expert in private. These bad habits always get worse as time goes by. Get ready because the next chapter goes more into dominance and aggression tendencies and these dogs will make these dogs seem like pussycats.
About the Author
Kevin Salem is considered to be one of the brightest minds in the world of dog training and one of the pioneers in his field. It's hard to paint Kevin's image with the same brush as others, as his unique way of thinking, writing, and philosophy truly makes him distinct. If you are a fan of Cesar Millan, it will be difficult not to fall in love with Kevin's book. You'll finally be able to put an end to your dog's: Jumping Up, House-training, Play-biting, Barking, Leash Pulling, Destructiveness, Bolting Out, Over-protectiveness-- to complete off-leash response. 10 week old pups to 10 yr old adults, all breeds welcome. Kevin offers Doggie Boot Camp or House Calls Nationwide. Try his book, hire him in person, or see him put his eyebrow raising skills into action by visiting his award-winning web site: http://ww.DogSecrets.com
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