Owning a dog comes with a big responsibility. You need to take care of them and make sure that they grow up to be well-behaved pets.
You need to show your dog that you are the one who has the power and dominance, since if you don’t, things can get out of control. But, of course, that is easier said than done.
All dogs are different, and if you have more than one at home, you’ll know that they all behave differently.
While one can behave really calmly and listen to you automatically, another one can be a high energy dog – one that does what he wants and does not like to be told what to do.
So, it is really important to start with dog training when your puppy is still young and eager to learn. But, if you don’t know how to start, and are wondering how to show dominance to your dog, stay with us, because we’re going to give you the 17 steps to become a true alpha leader to your dog.
If you introduce these steps into your daily life and routine, you will see that your puppy will start behaving better and see you as their leader, rather than it being the other way around.
How To Show Dominance To A Dog
It might seem easy, but it certainly isn’t. If you are a first time dog owner, then you are definitely still learning things about dogs every day, and you might not know exactly what to do.
If your dog has some behavior issues, then your situation is even harder. A dog’s world is completely different to ours, some things that may seem normal to us, really aren’t for them.
Learn how to show dominance to a dog with our 17-step guide to becoming an alpha leader and dog trainer.
1. It’s Me, Myself, And I
A crucial step to becoming a leader is adopting a leader mentality. You cannot be an alpha if you don’t think and act like one.
As a dog owner, you need to think like an alpha dog if you want your dog to think of you as their pack leader. It might sound cliché, but you have to put yourself first.
Everything you do, either inside or outside the house, you need to do first and lead, because that is the purpose of the leader – to lead. Your dog will not think of you as the leader if you do not act like one and show some dominant behavior.
You also need to be careful of your body language, because dogs rely on it. A true leader needs to be confident, have the ability to give directions, be in control, and act calm and collected.
If your doggo senses that you are insecure and unbalanced, then this will give them the opportunity to take the lead and become the dominant one in your relationship.
2. Bad Habits
As a pet owner, you always need to correct bad behavior in order to teach your dog how to behave correctly and to show your dog who is in charge.
Sometimes it may sound harsh, but it is really necessary to do it. If you let your dogs do whatever they want, you will eventually lose all the control you had.
Naturally, as it is a part of their canine nature and normal dog behavior, they will sometimes misbehave, to test you and to try and take dominance and hierarchy.
Puppies will misbehave more as a result of a lack of training, and adult dogs will challenge you and push your boundaries.
This is why you always need to be calm in these situations, show your dog that this kind of behavior is not accepted and give him strict commands.
3. Control Mealtime
You should always control all of your dog’s resources. When it comes to mealtimes, you must teach your dog to wait for their dog food and eat only when you release him.
You need to be able to control when, where, and how much your dog eats. In a wolf pack, the pack leader is responsible for gathering the pack and leading the hunt, which is why you also need to do the same thing, but just in a slightly different manner.
Never let your dog steal your food, even when they are puppies, because this behavior will stick with them and later on it will be harder to teach them to act differently.
And, always eat first. Even if it is just a small bite, you need to be the first one who gets the food, because you are the leader and the most important one.
4. Control Playtime
The same idea as controlling the food, you need to control playtime. Your dog needs to know when he is allowed to play and when not to play in inappropriate situations.
All dogs, regardless of which dog breed they belong to, need playtime to stay healthy and happy. If they don’t have enough playing time, they will soon become depressed.
So, make sure you have enough time set out for playing with your dog, but also teach him when it is appropriate and when it isn’t.
For example, control when your dog is allowed to play with other dogs, teach him a command which will signify your permission to play.
5. Establishing Boundaries
Just like children, dogs also need clear boundaries. Not only will it help them to know how to react and reinforce good behavior, but also, by setting clear boundaries you are establishing yourself as the leader.
It is okay sometimes to let your dog sleep with you, especially if it is too cold, they are not feeling well, or if they are scared, but keep in mind that this should not be happening all the time, and that a dog needs to know the limits of personal space.
By allowing this, they will not see you as the leader anymore, but someone that is equal to them, which is why you need to clearly communicate what is allowed, what is not, and when.
RELATED: Why Does My Dog Sleep On My Head? Dog Sleeping Positions
6. Working Is The Way To Go
How do you show dominance to a dog by making him work? Dogs love when they are given a task to do, and it is also good for them to earn things, as it teaches them good behavior and values.
Many behaviorists say that positive reinforcement is one of the best training methods to achieve desired behavior.
If you let your dog have everything that he wants, he will probably get spoiled. Yes, even dogs can be spoiled, perhaps even more so than children! This is because we see our pets as creatures that need to be spoiled and loved.
However, if this is the case, they will soon start exploiting the situation. They are smart, believe me, which is why you need to be smarter.
7. Control Toys
This one is in line with having spoiled puppies. We tend to buy our pets a lot of unnecessary stuff, basically we spoil them with toys and doggy things that they could probably live without.
You should also be in charge of toys. Let him have 2-3 toys per day and at the end of the day, take them away from him. Rotate the toys regularly, so that he knows that you are in charge, especially if he starts being possessive about them.
8. Communicate With Energy
Dogs are really good readers of body language. They can sense when you are anxious or afraid, which is why you need to be careful when giving commands, because dominant dogs will notice when you are not confident in yourself.
Your pup needs to see that you are serious about what you are saying and that you will not beg for obedience, but as a leader, you will carry out the orders no matter what.
9. Don’t Let Your Dog Bite You
You should never let your dog bite you, even if it is just while playing. If you let him, he will never understand that it is not acceptable, and he may even start biting other people.
You need to verbally and physically show him that this behavior is not acceptable. First, use verbal corrections to say to him that what he did is not alright, for example by exclaiming loudly, “NO!”
Secondly, stop the playtime right away. Give him the silent treatment for a while, which means no petting and no talking with him, ignore him completely.
It is important to set some ground rules from the beginning, before he develops bigger behavior problems.
10. Don’t Let Your Dog Jump On You
Just the same as biting you, do not ever let your dog jump on you. It may teach him that it is acceptable to jump on everyone, and he might even do it to other people, who may be scared of this behavior.
Other than it not being very nice, it is also a sign of dominance.
11. Teach Obedience Behavior
Try to incorporate obedience behavior as a daily routine. For example, your dog should come only when called, or he should wait patiently in front of the door before going for a walk.
Many dog owners stop obedience training after their dogs are potty-trained, which is not ideal. Training and learning new commands helps them to stay active and stimulates their mind, which is highly important in a dog’s life.
Incorporating teaching obedience behavior and new commands, will not only set you up as the leader, but it will inspire your dog to learn more.
12. Be Consistent With New Rules
As with any training techniques, it is extremely important to be consistent with them, especially when setting new rules.
What is the point of having rules if they are not being followed all the time. If you let your dog get away with being naughty, he may start to challenge your leadership.
Teach all the family members to also implement your rules, so that your dog does not receive different signals.
13. Don’t Let Your Dog Pull On The Leash
When you are walking your dog, he or she may start walking in front of you, and even pulling you in the direction they want to go.
However, this shouldn’t be allowed. If he does this, he may even start to take the lead in other parts of your life.
While walking, make him walk beside you, and regularly give him commands while doing so, like when to stop walking (at the crossroads, traffic lights, etc.) and also commands like sitting down or heel walking.
Do not let him move before you release him (give him a command for doing so) and try to reward him for his good behavior when possible.
14. Social Hierarchy
Hierarchy is important in canine behavior and between pack members. All members must know their place, and know that the leader of the pack always moves before others.
Have him move out of your way if he is laying down, an alpha shouldn’t move for the pack members, ever.
Also, don’t let him take positions above you. Dogs understand hierarchy literally, which means that if he is above you, for example sitting above you on the couch, he will get a sense of dominance because he is looking down on you.
RELATED: Why Does My Dog Sit On Me? Clingy Dog Behaviors
15. Be The True Leader
Learn how to be a leader in the world of pack animals. Dogs do not understand leadership like we do, and it is therefore important to know how to be a top dog. For example, there are some things that you should be careful of:
- Eye contact – it is really important to never back down in a staring contest because it is a sign of submissiveness
- Tapping under the chin – this mimics canine behavior, an alpha nicks their subordinates
- Grabbing the ears – giving your dog a light shake under the ears when they are disobedient or perhaps putting them in a timeout, for example in a crate for a little while
Alpha roll – pinning your dog to the ground and making him lay down on his back to show who is the boss. This should be AVOIDED, even though it is a part of the dog’s world, because it only makes us seem aggressive.
Ultimately, you should make your dog follow you, and don’t worry if he follows someone else in the family, at least there’s some order established.
16. Be The Parent
Your dog is your companion and your friend, but also your furry child. In a way, you need to be a parent to him and teach him what is right and what is wrong, the same as with children.
This is important, especially for domestic dogs that live with you in the house. They need to understand the rules of the house, the appropriate behavior, and that you are the head of the house, or even better, the leader of the pack.
17. Don’t Forget To Have Fun
Through the process of training your dog and teaching him dominance, don’t forget to have fun and be affectionate to your dog. It is important to show your pets that you love them. This will make the process of training easier and the whole atmosphere at home will be a better environment for your dog to learn in.
Pet your dog, groom him, and cuddle him as you would naturally. It will still teach them to be restrained while enjoying the attention, and therefore you will earn your dog’s trust and respect.
Is It Good To Be Dominant Over Your Dog?
It is extremely good and also important to be dominant over your dog. Dogs are hierarchical creatures, and they believe that those who are on the top are always right and don’t have to follow the rules, whereas those below, have to.
Which is why, if you want your dog to listen to you, follow your commands, and do well with their training, you need to assert yourself as a firm and strong alpha. But, how do you show dominance to a dog and present yourself as an alpha?
A strong alpha is not a bully, and should never physically harm their dog, but be a confident guide. Your dog should be able to follow your commands with your controlled dominance.
This kind of relationship is excellent for dogs, and will ensure that they do great in their obedience training. Overall, it will help them with any destructive and aggressive behavior.
What Are The Signs Of Dominance In Dogs?
Dogs can show dominance in various ways, often with aggressive behavior, which can unfortunately lead to injuries. So, it is important to recognize signs of dominance in dogs, in order to be able to prevent it.
Signs of dominance include:
- resistance to commands
- aggressive behavior and aggressive responses
- resistance to move off furniture
- constant licking
- stealing attention
- guarding toys and food
- inappropriate mounting
- walking in front of owners
- demanding playtime
- growling, jumping, barking, and nipping
When To Hire A Professional Trainer
Establishing leadership can help enormously with aggressive behavior. Even though you can try to do it by yourself, sometimes you will need to seek out a professional to help you.
But, when should you look for a professional?
- If you feel overwhelmed and like you don’t know what you are doing
- If you don’t have the appropriate equipment needed for dog training
- If your dog has a bite history, especially bites that have caused serious injuries or if he has bitten multiple people or times
- If your dog is showing extremely aggressive dog behavior and you are not educated and trained for dealing with such a condition
- If you need resources that you don’t have, like training camps and facilities
- If you don’t want to bother yourself with it, or perhaps you don’t have enough time to devote to it
- If you have the financial means and would rather a professional does it properly
How To Choose A Good Trainer
A professional trainer needs to be able to teach your dog how to behave properly, educate and guide you through the process, and also provide you with all the essential resources that you need to facilitate the process.
The most important job of a professional trainer is to teach you how to behave, because you are essentially the one who lives with the dog and who needs to continue the training in the future.
However, not every trainer is experienced with aggression or other more demanding problems that you may be dealing with.
That is why you need to do your research and find a good, experienced trainer that can help you.
If your dog is particularly aggressive, or has fear or anxiety problems, you need to find a trainer or training school that is specifically trained in the problems you are dealing with.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask for proof of previous experience.
Some of the questions you need to ask are, if the trainer has dealt with aggression problems before, what methods they use, and if they can provide you with referrals from previous clients or certificates that prove that they are qualified.
Finding the right trainer can help you enormously with establishing a proper relationship with your puppy, so both of you can lead a happy life.
Training a dog is not an easy thing to do, at all. If you want to have a well-rounded and obedient puppy, you need to be able to completely dedicate yourself to raising it.
So, what is the exact answer to our question: how do I show dominance to a dog? Well, our article brings you 17 unique and important steps that will guide you to becoming a true alpha leader.
You can’t have a well-educated dog without being the same well-rounded and well-educated leader. Although it may seem harsh at the beginning, by asserting your dominance over your dog, you will actually teach him good behavior and obedience.
If you follow our steps, I am sure that you will end up with the perfect family member and companion. But, if you are still unsure how to deal with a dominant dog, remember that there will always be a professional that can help you.
Whatever your reasons might be, don’t be afraid to ask for help, because after all, I am sure that your goal is to have a good dog, and a happy pet.