Is my puppy trying to dominate me? What to Know

Diagnosing Conflict Aggression in Puppies

There isnt an official diagnostic process to identify conflict aggression; observation of the pups behavior will serve as evidence of the condition. A veterinarian of dog behaviorist can help confirm the presence of irrationally aggressive behavior in a puppy.

Watch for aggressive reactions such in certain “normal” situations:

  • Picking the dog up or restraining it, such as for nail clipping
  • Reaching over the puppy near a toy or food bowl
  • Telling a pup to get off furniture
  • Tug-of-war or wrestling games
  • Why Has the View of Dominance Changed?

    Previously, dog behavior was explained through watching and interpreting wolf behavior, with the idea of an aggressive alpha wolf that lorded over a pack through intimidation. However, the more scientists studied wolves, they realized that wolf packs actually function more like families and while there is a leading “alpha” male and female, they run the pack cooperatively and not through aggression.

    Dr. David Mech, a biologist who originally coined the term “alpha” wolf has spoken out about these misconceptions, as well as the inappropriateness of using wolves to view dog behavior. There are similarities between the two species, but many differences, as well.

    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.

    How to stop your dog from being dominant

    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.