Dealing with aggressive, dominant dogs can be one of the most frustrating things that can happen as a dog owner. If your dog is aggressive toward a family member, this is a serious matter and you should learn how to break his dominant behavior as soon as possible.
You will also need to be aware of what are the dominance signs so that you are prepared to deal with these situations when they arise.
Some common dominance signs exhibit from a dominant dog includes:
- Hostility toward humans
- Aggressive reactions to eye contact
- Resistive to commands (Stubborn)
- Protecting food or playthings
- Compulsive licking
How To Break A Dominant Dog?
It is important to work with your dog’s instincts and temperaments, and remember that dominant dogs are happy when they know exactly where they stand in the pack. Once they have identified an Alpha in their social order, they would prefer to be led and would be happy to be taught. So simply by being an Alpha, and making sure they know their place, you will have the best possible chance for them to be obedient!
Be His Alpha Dog
There are many reasons why a dog can become aggressive. Often it is a result of confusion about who is the leader and who is not. If a dog is confused about his place in the family pack, he may become aggressive even though he is usually well taken care of.
In the dog hierarchy, all pack members will take their cues from the alpha leader. The alpha leader trains, feeds and cares for all other pack members. By establishing yourself as his Alpha, he will actually learn to respect you as his pack leader, and adjust his behaviors to meet your expectation. This will help to break his dominance.
You can establish leadership through classical conditioning. Teach your dog that when he does something good, he will be praised and when he does something wrong, he will be “punished”.
If your dog intentionally misbehaves, admonish him in a stern voice, telling him calmly and clearly that he is a “bad” dog. This is not being harsh or mean, but a firm and authoritative way of telling him that he should behave himself.
It conveys that you are not happy with his behavior, and that he should stop it immediately. You do not want to sound mean, but you want to send a clear message to him that there is a difference between bad and good behavior.
It’s important to reward him (with treat or praise) once he exhibits the desirable behaviors.
Also control on his resources such as when and where he would be playing, sleeping as well as eating. This will help to demonstrate your Alpha role to your dog.
The main joy of having a dog is to be able to spend time with him and play with him. But when your dog gets too dominant, it would be a challenge to make him obedient.
This is when obedience training comes into picture as there is a need for him to develop a sense of discipline.
Developing that discipline will help your dog know his role in your family. Once he understands that you are his boss, he will always obey your instruction. And the best way to train them is through positive reinforcement. Using this technique, you will soon end up with a loving and obedient dog.
Dog training will require consistency on your part. You need to be dedicated to doing that so as to achieve success in breaking your dog dominance behavior.
Make Him Understand “No”
At times, you will need to let your dog be aware that certain actions that are going to challenge you for dominance are strictly not allowed. For example, your dog might get to your bed without your permission and refuses to get down when asking him to do so.
You would need to train him to understand – “No” which means “Stop that!” and this should be the first thing to be taught during the obedience training.
If you catch your dog in the act of jumping to your bed, use the “No” command, calmly, firmly, and quickly and do not yell at him.
If you are yelling, you will just frighten him. Speak in a calming voice. This will give him the appropriate message and remember to reward and praise him once he follows your command.
Keep in mind that your dog has the ability to understand your tones of voice and your body language so do not raise your tone when “talking” to him.
Learn To Read Your Dog’s Body Language
Dealing with dominance issues requires that you understand your dog’s body language.
The body language of a dominant dog will reflect his emotional state. When a dog is trying to be dominant, he will stand tall and stiff with his ears straight up. His tail will be up and wagging. His legs will be stiff and his paws will be forward. The look from the eyes is dominant and intent.
Other signs of dominant behavior are when a dog barks and growls, or snaps and nips.
If you cannot interpret your dog’s dominance language, you would have a tough time making him submissive. You need to be aware of when he is exhibiting dominance signs and correct his behavior immediately.
Understand what your dog is communicating, and use this to help you know what he needs from you.
For example, if you attempt to remove the food bowl or toy from your dog, and he is exhibiting aggressiveness and even peeping on the floor, this is a sign of resource guarding dominance behavior.
What you should do is to use desensitization and positive reinforcement approach to correct his behavior.
Make Him “Feel” Part Of Your Family
Your dog wants to feel that he is part of the pack. That feeling of belonging could be as simple as walking with you instead of being “led” around, or even just knowing that he is included in the pack and is not being left out.
This is when you need to allocate sufficient time to be with him. Make sure that he is not neglected or left alone and feeling anxiety.
Plan a routine schedule so that he is aware of the activities that he will be having daily with you and this will prevent him from feeling neglected.
Spending more time interacting with your dog will help to build his trust on you. This is extremely important to help him break his dominance, and learn to accept you as his pack leader.
Let Him Know The Rules And Boundaries
If your dog knows the rules and boundaries, and understands what he can and cannot do (as you provide leadership, training, and guidance to him), he will respect your leadership and your position as the Alpha.
So it’s important that you show him what is right, and what is wrong through training such as house breaking, socialization and conditioning.
For example, if you find your dog likes to jump on you every time he sees you, you need to let him know that this action is not allowed.
Simply turn your back against him whenever he does this action and ignore him for 2 minutes (by leaving him alone).
When he had calmed down, reward him with a treat and praise him. This will help him to learn that when he jumps on you, he would be left alone. Likewise, if he stays calm, he would be rewarded.
It may take a while for a dominant dog to adhere to your house rules. He might at times try to “break” the rules but gradually he will stop doing that if he doesn’t get what he wants.
With adequate obedient training, your dog will understand that he has to earn the privilege of being let out of the house and he cannot just sleep on the couch or the chair without your approval. He needs to get consent from his pack leader (which is YOU!).
As you have learned from this post, it is not at all difficult to break the dominance behavior of your dog. What you need to do now is to put the above tips to use and get yourself rewarded with a well-behaved pet in your family.