How do dogs show dominance to humans? Here’s the Answer

Common Signs of Dominant Behavior in Dogs

Dogs show dominance in a variety of ways, often leading to aggressive behaviors that could cause serious injuries to children or other pets. An important sign of dominant behavior in dogs involve aggression towards children and biting at the heels of children and other pets in an attempt to “herd” them. Any dog owner that notices aggressive behavior in their pet should seek our Dog Training in Fredericksburg to correct this behavior. Our Dog Training Classes offers training that can deal with aggressive behavior effectively and in a safe, controlled environment. Some other common signs of Dominant behavior include:

  • Guarding their owner from other dogs or people
  • Leash Pulling
  • Inappropriately mounting dogs or humans (seen in males and females)
  • Stealing attention from other dogs
  • Refusing to move off furniture
  • Demanding play by putting toys in their owners lap
  • Must walk in front of other dogs or owner while on a leash
  • Constant licking
  • dog pulling on leash Another important sign of dominant behavior is the refusal to listen to their owners commands and respond by growling, jumping, barking, nipping, or other inappropriate behavior. Additionally, they commonly have a high level of food and toy aggression, also known as guarding. Causing them to growl, bite, or nip at other animals, children, or their owners when they get to close to the items they’re guarding.

    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.

    Environmental Causes of Dominant Dog Behavior

    Some pet owners provide their dogs with too much leeway at home which can cause dominance aggression to develop. In addition, pet parents that do not discipline their dogs when they are aggressive towards submissive animals may unintentionally intensify dominant behaviors.

    Watch me battle a dominant Alaska Malamute

    Most pet owners know without question that they (and, to a lesser extent, their human family members) have to be Pack Leaders when interacting with their pooch. He should be submissive even to younger children so aggression and other problem behaviors don’t arise.

    But different dogs have varying inclinations toward dominance or submission, so how much you’ll need to work to establish this role won’t be the same with every dog.

    Understanding your dog’s natural inclination can help prepare you, but how do you discover whether they’re more likely to be dominant or submissive? One surefire way is to socialize them with other dogs and pay careful attention to their behavior with the rest of the pack.

    A dog doesn’t need to follow all of these behaviors in order for you to consider her “dominant” or “submissive.” Most dogs won’t because they fall somewhere in the middle of the dominant-submissive spectrum, and the degree of dominance that your dog displays will likely change depending on the group of dogs that they are with.

    However, by watching how they socialize over time and with different groups, you can get a pretty good sense of their natural inclination.

    Generally speaking, dogs who tend to be more submissive are easier to keep at the bottom of your family pack structure and will fall in line with less work on everyone’s part. Those who are naturally inclined to lead and dominate other dogs may require more effort and structure to keep them happy and balanced in a position subordinate to your human pack.

    Understanding how your dog fits into the pack can also help guide you towards safer socialization with other dogs.