How do dogs assert dominance over other dogs? A Comprehensive Guide

What Cause Dominant Behavior in Some Dogs

Despite speculation, dominant behavior is not a normal personality trait in any breed of dog. There’s several reasons why a dog displays dominant behavior, none of which, owners should consider as “okay” or “normal”. In many cases, pet owners unknowingly create the behavior by failing to discipline them when they first show signs of dominant behavior towards children or other animals. By failing to discipline them, their behavior gradually escalates. Other causes for dominant behavior include:

  • Lack of socialization with other animals
  • Lack of proper training
  • Environmental Factors
  • Another important reason dogs display dominant behavior is in response to an underlying health condition. Underlying health conditions can cause a dog to have hormonal or mood imbalances and poor eyesight or hearing. These conditions can cause a dog to displaying dominant behavior such as biting, growling, and barking in respond to the pain and irritability these conditions cause.

    Dealing with Dominance Aggression Between Dogs

    Dogs fight for a number of different reasons, but quests for dominance often underlie much of the sparring. Aggressive incidents may be isolated to one or two specific situations, such as competition over specific resources or space guarding issues. Hierarchical disputes are more common among dogs of the same sex and fights between two females are typically more vicious. Any breed can develop such hierarchical disputes as this goes hand in hand with “pack” mentality, but it may be more difficult to maintain stable hierarchies with terrier breeds and other breeds that have been selected to work independently.

    Dogs in the same household will fight if they are near equal in social status. This can occur in two distinct situations.

    A complete physical examination is recommended to rule out any underlying medical condition that may be contributing to the dog’s aggressive behavior. If the dog receives a clean bill of health, a behavior specialist can provide a diagnosis and an appropriate treatment plan.

    Give the Dog a Job

    Offer energy-consuming tasks that their excess energy is well-used up focusing on those tasks. For example, you can take your dog to agility or obedience training, which offers physical and mental exercises and an opportunity for you and your dog to strengthen the relationship.

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