Dominance in dogs: is my dog ​​dominant?

Dominant behavior in dogs is a commonly used term during training. The dog should not control you. Dominant behavior would therefore make him less suited to your wishes.

But what exactly is dominance?

And can you use the term in this way?

In this article we explain dominant behavior in dogs

Contents of this article

What is dominant behavior in dogs?

Dominant behavior is now often cited as a reason for problem behavior in dogs. The dog would not easily accept the owner’s wishes. But is the term used correctly?

The ancestor of our modern dog is the Eurasian wolf. These animals lived together in a gang, which consisted of a family. Father wolf, mother wolf and the offspring.

Male offspring approached adulthood when they reached adulthood, and started their own troop.

In modern wolves we often see the same structure, as with other wild canines. In the family, mom and dad are the ones with the most experience, setting the course. Everyone in the family contributes to increasing the chances of survival.

For example, this means that the young are fed first, often through their parents.

Today, however, we see very few tame dog families, making our dogs a mess with the neighbors in the neighborhood or their housemates.

And that is where the conflict arises.

Finding a hierarchical structure in such a mixed group is not without a struggle. Dogs therefore regularly use short fights or false aggression to force their place.

In living with humans, we also see this conflict. But does this mean that the dog is dominant?

Dominant behavior in the group

When two different animal species start to live closely together, their differences often become quite clear. We take a dog into our home, but we will have to learn a lot about each other in order to live side by side without conflict.

In addition, the dog is expected to conform to human society. Usually we see that our four-legged friends are regularly home alone, have to walk on a leash, have a social attitude towards total strangers and listen to everyone in the house.

In other words: the lowest in rank.

dog wants to survive. And more importantly, everything that a human life is built on cannot be taken for granted. It is often even against his nature.

So we often see that dogs are looking for their place in our society. In addition, they go through important development stages from puppy to adult animal. Just like us.

Think of puberty. Your dog (and our human teens, too) will question everything he has ever learned. For example, conflicts can arise because your adolescent explores his limits.

To offer your dog a safe and harmonious place in our people-oriented society, you need to socialize him well and to educate him as clearly, consistently as possible. Here you position yourself as a leader, and thus the parent animal, to guide the dog and to understand its environment.

Not because it wants to dominate you, but because our society is not consistent with its natural behavior. This has nothing to do with you being an omniscient, strong “alpha” or “pack leader”, but all the more the one who understands the human environment.

Just like in the education of children.

Gets a dog no clear guidance or consistent education? Then this can cause problems in your daily life. Think of the following situations:

  • Aggression
  • Begging behavior
  • Poorly appealing
  • Feeding or possessiveness
  • Repeatedly “riding” on other animals, dogs or people
  • Unwanted “herding” of people or animals
  • Unsolicited vigilance

But do these problems come from dominant behavior?

Dominant character traits of your dog?

But does the emergence of problems during training or behavior mean that you are a dominant, so predominant dog?


We often see the use of the term “dominant” as a synonym for “stubborn”, “predominant” or even “aggressive.”

The fact is, of course, that one dog is easier to guide and train than another.

Some dogs belong to a breed that is bred for making decisions independently. Think of the Siberian Husky, who was responsible for his own survival for much of the year. Or Bernese Mountain Dogs, who had to guard the herd independently.

For example, other dogs have had bad experiences in their years before they were offered their place with you. Bad socialization, abuse and neglect are examples of this.

And Last, but not least each dog has its own combined package of genes. Like us. The combination of qualities that he got through his ancestors determines who he is.

Then he is further shaped by his life experiences.

So you can also stubbornly hit! It is then up to the owner to manage this tenacity and unpleasant traits.

Unlearning behavioral problems with dominance

When you have problems living with your dog, it is important that you get started with your cooperation. Behavioral problems arise because of underlying problems, such as stress, uncertainty or fear.

Unclear training and unpleasant experiences can play a major role in this.

That is why it is important that your dog can trust that you are in control of the situation. . And that he can turn to you to solve problems. This way your dog feels good at the course you indicate.

Are you not giving a clear course? Then your dog will make his own choices to improve the situation, in his opinion.

When correcting problem behavior, it is therefore important to draw up a clear form of communication and an applicable set of basic rules.

Not that the owner should eat before the dog, for example. Or always the first to go through the door.

Fortunately, we see these outdated training methods less and less often. In education, your dog will learn that there are consequences to his behavior. This is not necessarily due to the threatening, hitting or pushing the dog with its nose in its feces.

Your dog is not doing it “wrong”, but many things do not make sense to him or have not been learned well enough. Positive attention to the good is therefore of great importance. Just like taking away attention until the dog behaves desirable. Think of a time out of a few minutes in the crate, until the calm has returned.

An anxious or busy dog ​​has no room in his head to learn.

Help with behavioral problems

problems living with your dog? Always have it checked by a vet first. Sometimes behavioral problems can arise from physical discomfort or medical conditions.

For example, problems in the hormone balance. Only when there is a medical cause can the use of medication help to solve the problem.

In addition, when rearing or rearing a dog, it is important to seek help from a reputable company. The trainers can guide you through the process and you have more resources at your disposal for a complete training program.

Never lose sight of your dog’s needs. Try to guide the training program based on your knowledge of him. Always take more time for a part when you deem it necessary.

In case of problems with aggression, we recommend seeking professional guidance. The condition for this is that it focuses on creating positive experiences and discouraging aggressive behavior, in addition to drawing up clear mutual communication and basic rules.

In this context, aids such as a muzzle can be used in a targeted manner. However, this is only allowed in consultation with a professional. The training should be directed to address the underlying reason for the attachment.

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