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Why Your Dominant Dog Is Not A Bad Dog

Aug 17, 2007
Among dog enthusiasts, it is often popular to discuss whether this or that dog breed is actually "bad," or whether genetics or environment is the main contributor of problems such as aggression in dogs. Such discussions may lead one to assume that the only enjoyable and safe companions are submissive animals. But with proper handling, dominant dogs can become the life of the party.

So what, then, is a dominant dog? To understand that, you must first understand a little about canine psychology. For instance, if your dog bites or snaps at you, he isn't necessarily doing it because he doesn't like you. He is simply trying to "train" you not to touch his toys, or not to disturb him when he's sleeping. He's certainly not trying to allowing you to make him move from his favorite place. In short, he is using physical intimidation to control you.

Dogs can be very clever when it comes to establishing dominance. Everything is a test to see how far they can push and what they can get away with. Anything that he does that has an impact on you changing your behavior is an attempt to undermine your authority. Some of these behaviors might seem innocent, but each time you let him get away with putting his teeth on you or simply refusing to do what you want him to do is one more advantage to his favor. This tells his dog brain that he is superior and can get away with whatever it is you don't want him to do because you will let him.

The reason you want to correct dominant-dog behavior is that it could become dangerous. Of course, if you have a dog that simply taps you with his paw when he wants attention, that doesn't mean she is on her way to becoming Cujo. You can decide for yourself whether you like this particular behavior and whether to correct it. But if your pooch threatens you with his teeth, which is the doggie equivalent of a beating, it could pose a danger to you and others.

This doesn't mean you have to challenge your dog to a duel. Simply begin lowering your dog's status by denying him those status symbols he craves. Don't play games that would provide him opportunity to wrestle you to the ground and stand over you or games that tempt him to bite or nibble, even in play. Instead, play games in which you are in control such as fetch and tricks. But don't allow him to coerce you into chasing him down for the toy. If he begins to try to manipulate you in this way, simply withdraw your attention. Owner attention is a valuable commodity that must be earned.

In addition, do not allow him access to your bed or furniture, as this is a huge symbol of status. At the very least, insist on being the one to initiate furniture-time. The same goes with your attention. Do not allow your overly dominant dog to order you to spend time with him. You initiate all contact, even if that means ignoring a particularly charming bid for affection. Remember, you truly are doing this for your dog's own good.

The one thing you should never do with a dominant dog is use physical punishment. You wouldn't try to physically punish, say, Dirty Harry, if you saw him behaving inappropriately, would you? He might give you a thrashing, and your dog might try to do the same. Instead, use psychology. Bribe him off of the furniture with a favorite toy or treat.

Help is always available should you find that you have got your hands full. Don't be afraid to consult an expert to aide you in setting things straight with your dog. There are many trainers who have the skills and experience to deal with dominant dogs or pets with an aggressive streak. Trying to handle the problem yourself isn't always a good idea and it's important to get Jack the training he needs.
About the Author
Jeff Clare runs Dog Training News where you can read many more articles on dog control . For more general advice on dog food go to Dogs And Dog News.
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