Having a dominant dog can be a challenge for even the most experienced dog owner. From assertive behaviors to territorial aggression, dealing with a dominant dog requires patience, consistency, and effective training techniques. In this blog post, we’ll explore the best strategies for training a dominant dog and regaining control in your household. Whether you’re a new dog owner or have been struggling with your dog’s dominance for years, this guide will provide you with the tools and knowledge you need to establish yourself as the pack leader and create a harmonious relationship with your four-legged friend. So grab your treats and leash, because it’s time to take control and transform your dominant dog into a well-behaved companion.
What is a dominant dog? Male Weimeraners and Rottweilers obviously spring to mind as being in this category. Many people attend a training club for the first time because they have a dog which has taken over their household.
Train a Dominant Dog
He may, for instance, be one of the above, but he is just as likely to be a Yorkshire Terrorist. The dominant dog is not necessarily a big powerful dog. Think of all the tiny dogs who make the decisions about who may or may not enter a room or when it is time for tea.
And don’t believe that just because a breed has evolved for the express purpose of serving man that all of this breed are born submissive. I have owned two Border Collies who were definitely dominant. This breed does not always come trained ready to do whatever you want. In fact the dominant dog can appear in almost any breed.
You may be feeling a bit stupid because your neighbour’s Battersea reject never pulls on the lead, always comes when called and rarely needs training. You, on the other hand, may find that your carefully chosen companion with the extensive pedigree takes hours of your time every day but still manages to make you look like a gibbering idiot in public.
Do not despair. Help is at hand. Your canine thug can be turned, if not into a saint, at least into a dog of great character. And one day you may well be proud of him.
The first essential is to convince your dominant friend that you are the pack leader, the senior partner, his god, idol, reason for living, call it what you will. If he has been in charge for some considerable time he will be reluctant to relinquish his position. But it can be done.
Over the years many methods have been developed to control the dominant dog. You can force your intentions on him. This may work if he is not too large and you are wearing suitable padding. Many trainers can force any dog to submit. But we are talking here about ordinary people who may be afraid of being bitten and just want a friend not the canine equivalent of Attila the Hun.
At least for the forseeable future he must be restricted to a small section of your home. He is probably used to sleeping on the bed, for instance. This little habit should be nipped firmly in the bud. Only the pack leader,(you) is allowed the best place to sleep. Fido may not encroach on your territory without permission. So until you have firmly established yourself as leader it is best to restrict his access to certain areas. You, however, can occupy his space whenever you like. But do be sensible and allow him some peace and quiet.
Establish certain rules that he must obey. He will want to dash through every door ahead of you. Make him wait and then call him through only when you are ready. If this means putting a lead on him then do it. Enlist someone’s help if necesary or just tie the lead to something safe. Sometimes you may be tempted to relent . But remember that training takes time. Just remind yourself that it is in your dog’s interests not to be in charge. Have patience and you will succeed. Nothing worthwhile is ever easy.
Another favourite dominant dog trick is to jump up and prod you with his paws. Most people would see this as a friendly act. And so it is. But only you can decide when your dog is allowed to jump up. In his eyes you may be subservient if you allow him to put his paws on you. It is after all, one of the ways he would indicate his dominance to a lesser being within the pack. I should mention that my dogs are encouraged to jump up and play. But I am the pack leader. With the dominant dog who has been allowed to get his own way for too long, remedial action must be taken and stopping this behaviour is just another way of doing this. Train him to sit and give him the command whenever he jumps up. Praise him for obeying, perhaps a food reward. He will soon learn what you want.
The dominant dog’s method of dealing with humans is often very subtle. He may ask to be let out into the garden then refuse to go once he has got you out of your favourite chair. He may paw at your knees for attention, or push your paper away when you are trying to read. Such behaviour and many more are all part of the dominant dog’s way of establishing himself as leader. If he is otherwise obedient and perfectly controlled when necessary you may just find such mannerisms endearing. But we are talking here about the canine hoodlum who is anything but endearing.
One helpful exercise which is relatively easy is the long down. This is not a stay exercise. No words of command are necessary. All you do is place your dog in a down and keep him there for as long as you decide. If he is very dominant he will resist but you must persevere. This exercise is done on the lead. So you can run the lead under your foot or some sturdy piece of furniture until his head is down. The rest of the dog will eventually follow. Then, ensure he stays down for about half an hour. If all this sounds a bit boring, try to combine it with your favourite T.V. programme. Establish a regular routine and before long you will find you are winning the battle. But do be sensible and don’t do this with a very young pup. If handled correctly from the start you will never need such remedial training.
I am a great believer in training through play but games must be carefully controlled. Never allow the dominant dog to win a game of tug. If he is extremely dominant this game should be avoided altogether. Seeking games are great fun just as long as he always brings his toy back to you. If he doesn’t then he must go back on the lead until his manners improve. Freedom has to be earned.
Run through the various obedience exercises with him. Try to give him at least ten minutes of concentrated effort every day, more if you are able. Everything is done at high speed, on the lead and under control though the momentum must never be lost. Obedience can be fun but it takes a lot of energy and total concentration, not recommended for a crowded room. Find a quieter place. If you are not exhausted and ready for a break after ten minutes then you are either super-fit or you are not working hard enough. You cannont expect your canine partner to give you his total allegiance if you are not prepared to put in the time and effort to obtain it.
I have known of many canine sinners reformed by sheer hard work. One particular dog I knew, attacked every male who approached his beloved mistress. And he was a big dog who really meant business. He made her life a misery even though she loved him dearly. Then she took steps to lower his status. It wasn’t easy but she worked hard and trained him for competition. He won a couple of classes. But the real success was that once he had relinquished his pack leader status he became a much happier dog.
Apart from the intensive training, the long down and restriction of access to your sleeping area, there are a few other things to remember when attempting to reform the dominant dog. From now on, he owns no property. You are in charge of all the toys and only you can decide when he is allowed to play. And on no account allow him near the table when you are eating. He can be fed separately afterwards. The pack leader always eats first and has the tastiest morsels.
From now on you must try and ignore all his attempts to attract your attention. You must be the one to initiate all contact. This is probably the most difficult part of the whole process. But it is for your dog’s benefit so you must harden your heart. And there is nothing to stop you cuddling him as much as you like, just as long as you make the first move.
Not everyone is cut out to deal with a truly dominant dog but nobody need despair. And the rewards are great if you succeed. Just tell yourself that he will be much happier once he knows exactly where he stands. And many dominant dogs have such engaging personalities. Imagine this channelled into obedience and all under your control. The sky’s the limit. Go for it!
N.B. Occasionally you may have problems with a dog that is too submissive. Here it is just a question of reversing the advice given above. This type of dog would most definitely benefit from a rise in status. It is all just a matter of common sense. But striking the right balance is what makes dog training such an all absorbing pastime.
Training a dominant dog requires patience, consistency, and understanding. It’s important to establish yourself as the pack leader and set clear boundaries for your dog. Use positive reinforcement techniques to reward good behavior and redirect any unwanted behavior. Remember that every dog is unique, so it may take time to find the training methods that work best for your specific dog. If you have any questions or would like further advice on training a dominant dog, please let us know in the comments. We’re here to help you and your furry friend succeed!
Frequently Asked Questions
What makes a dog dominant?
Dogs are regarded as pack animals whose dominance is based on their instincts for territory. This behavior is necessary for survival in the wild, but when it occurs in a domestic setting, it can lead to undesirable behaviors and dangerous aggression.
What are dominance problems in dogs?
The majority of dogs behave neutrally or submissively around people, but some will compete with their owners for dominance. When you give a command to a dominant dog or ask him to give up a toy, treat, or resting spot, he may glare, bark, growl, snap, or even bite.
How do dogs fight for dominance?
Dogs may stand parallel to one another, facing the opposite direction, with their heads resting on the other’s rump and their tails raised in a dominance signal. A low growl, lip lift, snap, or even a bite could follow. If neither dog gives in, a dogfight breaks out, with the victor taking everything.