Dogs don’t just become exceedingly dominant overnight. It’s actually a continual process than can sometimes take up years, and would involve a lot of warning signs. Recognizing this signals early on and responding to them properly is very important in order for you to retain your role as the pack leader. The moment you lose it, you will no longer be the owner of your household, and your dog, regardless of his size, will start setting up his own rules for the entire family – something you won’t like, worse, that can be destructive and dangerous.
Common Signs of Canine Dominance
Here is a list of some of the most common things a dog does when he thinks he is in a higher rank than his owner. Generally speaking, a dog will not show them all at once, but just a few at different times. These behaviors should already tell you that your pooch is most likely in a dominant state of mind. And these should never be encouraged but always corrected as soon as they arise.
- Display of manipulative behavior (by demanding and begging)
- Demonstration of too much guarding behavior
- Barks at other people and animals unnecessarily
- Objects to something undesirable through high-pitched screams
- Jumps on people suddenly
- Sleeps on your bed or other furniture even if you command them to stay off
- Goes in and out the doorway first (or before the pack leader)
- Pulls the leash while walking with you
- Refuses to wear a collar or to walk on a leash
- Nips at people’s heels
- Ignores well-known commands
- Shows possessive and protective behavior towards food and toys
- Dislikes being touched on the head, back, or shoulders
- Gets annoyed if disturbed while eating or sleeping
- Licks in an obsessive manner
- Likes to be physically above you by stepping on your foot, sitting on your lap, or sleeping on you
- Dislikes being left alone and gets over excited upon your return
How to Establish Yourself As the Pack Leader
There are five things that you can do when it comes to dealing with an alpha dog.
- Be calm but more assertive. Dogs do not follow unstable energy. Besides, they will sense if you are nervous or anxious and will only take this as their cue to take charge.
- Set the rules and boundaries. These things are especially important for dominant dogs since it allows them to focus their dominance on something else without using it on you.
- Never force affection. Dominant pooches are innately more solitary and aloof. The best approach is to ignore him. If he wants attention, he would have to come to you. This will reinforce your role as the leader of the pack. Remember, the alphas do not approach the followers in a pack. It’s the other way around.
- Use meal time to assert your role. Leaders in a pack generally eat first, and the same should thing should take place at your house. During feeding time, wait for your pooch to be calm and submissive before you put down his bowl of food.