Most dogs assume a neutral or submissive role toward people, but some dogs will challenge their owners for dominance. A dominant dog may stare, bark, growl, snap, or even bite when you give him a command or ask him to give up a toy, treat, or resting place.
Signs of dominant behavior in dogs:
Resistance to voice commands. Aggressive response to eye contact or verbal correction. Food guarding or other aggressive behavior while eating. Persistence about leading the way on walks or through entryways.
Most of the available research indicates that dogs do engage in behaviors of dominance and submission, but not that they try to compete with us for control over the domestic environments in which they live.
If your dog sees you as the alpha, they will permit you to eat first and refrain from snatching or stealing food. This is a sign of respect. In your home, you set your dog's feeding schedule. If your pup sees you as the alpha, he or she will patiently wait for food or subtly ask for table scraps.
❖ How dominance is established: Dogs usually establish their dominance hierarchies through a series of ritualized behaviors that include body postures and vocalizations that don't result in injury. One dog may "stand over" another by placing his paws or neck on the shoulders of the other.
Fights between dogs in the household are often about dominance or social status. Social status aggression most often occurs when dogs reach social maturity at 12-36 months of age. Fights will be about those resources that are considered important to dogs.
If you recently added a new dog to your pack, one of them may sit on you to assert that he's the top dog. By sitting on people, dogs often feel higher and more in control.
Like their human counterparts, dogs develop favorite people over time based on positive experiences and positive associations with that person. Some people use tasty treats and other rewards to create strong bonds with pets, but the best way to build a healthy relationship with your dog is through play.
A dog can attempt to show dominance towards a human by licking too. This is a more determined, deliberate act. It's uninvited and inappropriate for the situation. When licks are unsolicited and demanding, it can indicate an assertion of dominance and control.
The Growl: Dogs do growl while playing, but there are two ways to tell different growls apart. An aggressive growl will be accompanied by snarling and snapping, while a playful growl is just a sound, accompanied by relaxed body movements (no tension).
Social aggression usually develops in dogs between one to three years of age. It's important to realize that the complexities involved in social aggression are poorly understood and hotly debated by behavior experts.
In fact, dominance training methods are not scientifically proven to be effective. Aversive methods may also increase the dog's underlying fear and anxiety which can actually make the unwanted behaviour much worse.
Males can be more dominant, territorial, and easily distracted than female dogs. On the other hand, males can also be more playful, active, and independent. Dominance and territorial behaviour can also be seen in unspayed females when they are in heat.
While it may sound obvious, growling at your dog is not likely to improve its aggressive behavioral problems, a new study suggests. Hitting it is probably worse. Researchers say dog owners who kick, hit or otherwise confront aggressive dogs with punitive training methods are doomed to have, well, aggressive pets.
When You Shouldn't Ignore Your Dog's Bad Behavior. There are some behaviors you don't want to ignore, such as puppy nipping or pulling on leash. Any behavior that feels good to your dog, is naturally calming (such as licking or chewing), or is fun to do is not likely to go away when ignored.
Science proves that dogs understand the emotional aspect associated with the insult based on tone, and body language, not necessarily the insult itself. As much as we'd all love to have a conversation with our dog, (and have them understand that by “no peeing”, we mean no peeing) that's just not the case.
The excitable, unruly, or disobedient dog would be one that after sufficient attention to training, still does not respond to commands, will not walk nicely on a leash, jumps on people, continually barks for attention, steals things or generally wreaks havoc on the household.
While dog walking, make sure that your dog is not in front of you, pulling you down the street. Instead, keep your dog to your side or behind you. This will also demonstrate to your dog that you are the alpha figure. Give your dog something to do before you share food, water, toys, or affection.
In their wolf ancestors, staring is considered threatening and rude. Some dogs still retain that attitude. That's why you should never stare down strange dogs or hold dogs still to stare into their eyes. If a dog gives you a hard stare, with unblinking eyes and a stiff posture, back away and don't make eye contact.