Help; my dog is dominant!

What do you do if your dog is 50 shades of dominant!?

Being dominant means being in control. If your dog’s behaviour regularly involves him or her being dominant then he or she will think that means ‘control’ of your pack, which is a whole other problem in itself!

How to identify what is dominant dog behaviour.

These are the classic dominant signs; however some dogs are more subtle than others so don’t be fooled if your dog isn’t displaying all of these signs, doesn’t mean he/she doesn’t think they aren’t in charge:

  • Jumping up at you or your visitors.
  • Taking things
  • Lying down on your feet or leaning on you.
  • Barking at you
  • Demanding play
  • Demanding to be fed
  • Refusing to come over when called
  • ‘Humping’ (whether castrated or not, and females do this too!)
  • Attempting to block your path
  • Getting onto your bed or your seat on the sofa.
  • Getting up as high as possible in front of you (e.g. the top of the back of the sofa/chair)

Some dogs are more creative with their dominance, like the male dog I once met who decided to make things awkward for his human male pack mate, by giving him ‘a look’ and then yelping when the lady of the house is out of the room, so she’d come rushing in, demand “what have you done?” Of her boyfriend before fussing the dog! Clever dog!

What to do if you dog is dominant

Simply put the answer is NOT to meet dominance with more dominance. If you do that you are basically saying to your dog “bring it on, I want much more of this dominant behaviour”

The answer is not to fall for any of it. Not to give up your ground, to out play your dog in other ways so that they see your quiet leadership as better than their forceful approach. A lot of their dominant behaviour is only successful if they get a reaction from you, or if you allow it to happen.

So if they jump up, gently push them back down. If they don’t come over when you call them, leave them to it. If they steal something, walk away with disinterest. Make sure you are the one who starts play. Change directions any time they try to pull on the lead. If they demand anything from you, don’t give it to them… ┬áLike children, they need to learn manners. A shouting child would not get what they were asking for, so why should a demanding dog?

The consequences of allowing dominant behaviour.

If you accept your dog’s dominant behaviour as being “just the way they are”, then your dog will believe it runs your pack. This could lead to any (or all) of the following behaviour:

  • Aggression towards visitors, other dogs or even you and your family.
  • Pulling on the lead
  • Separation anxiety
  • Toileting indoors
  • Stealing food
  • Food aggression
  • Poor recall
  • Excessive barking at perceived dangers
  • In fighting between your own dogs

Needless to say, if your dog is dominant with it’s behaviour this needs to be knocked on the head, and there is a very kind and calm way of doing that which I can teach you.

I offer 121 in home dog behaviour  consultations in Essex and the surrounding counties.


4 thoughts on “Help; my dog is dominant!

  1. I have a jack russell who thinks we are married, which may seem quite funny but all jokes aside he is not a happy boy with all this responceability he seems to have taken on and can be very aggressive towards the other dogs, we have to anticipate situations and deflect any confrontations due to his possessive behaviour i would love to be able to make him feel less stressed, and have a relaxed house, could we possibly have a chat?

    1. Hi Sonia, of course. If you want to email me your phone number I will give you a call. It’s very common for a dog to assume a partnership with someone in the house, and as you’ve said, can cause a lot of stress. My email is

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