In fact, most dogs fall somewhere in the middle of being both dominant and submissive. One important thing you can do to help avoid dominance and aggressive behaviors is to socialize your pup frequently and early.
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.
The dog's ears may be pressed flat against the head, with his tail tucked between legs. The subordinate dog often freezes, averting eye contact, lowering his head and body, sometimes to the point of going “belly-up” on the ground. Passive submission may also be accompanied by submissive urination.
In most cases, dominant behavior occurs when a dog has reached maturity, somewhere between one and three years old. However, it's not uncommon for dominant behavior to occur in older dogs or puppies.
Your Dog Follows You
According to the pack code, alphas are at the front of the line, betas are in the middle, and omegas are in the back and double as lookouts. If your dog follows you, this indicates it sees you as the pack leader and is exhibiting the instinctive behavior of walking behind the alpha.
In a nutshell — don't do it. Ever. The fallacy of the dominance down first came out of the idea that submission is generally shown by canids when they expose their inguinal region (where the genitalia are) while they lie on the ground.
When a dog is calm and submissive, her ears will lie back against her head and the tail will droop to the middle position. Her body will appear relaxed. A calm, submissive dog will also frequently sit or lie down, with the most submissive dog placing her chin on her paws or the floor.
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.
The most common way to test this is by placing the dog in an environment with different people or animals. If the dog starts stressing out or growling to everyone who comes close to the owners, it may be an over-protective dog.
Don't Force Affection
The trap that it's easy for humans to fall into is to pursue their dog to give affection when the dog isn't “cuddly” enough, which puts the dog in the leadership position. If your dog is dominant, the best approach is to ignore her.
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.
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 number one way to communicate to a dog that you are his pack leader is to take him for a walk. Not the type of walk most humans take their dogs on but a pack walk, where the dog is made to heel beside or behind the human who is holding the lead.
The Source of Dominance
This position is so instinctual because dogs begin learning it almost from birth as the new litter jockeys for position while nursing with the mother. The more dominant dogs will get more milk while the submissive dogs will learn to wait.
Female dogs tend to be easier to housebreak, easier to train, and more connected with their owners—but in certain circumstances they can be more demanding of attention. Aggression can be a problem in any dog of any breed, however it is usually more apparent in non-neutered males.
When happy dogs roll onto their backs as a display of relaxation, chances are they will happily accept a loving belly rub or tickle. On the other hand, if a dog is rolling onto its back as a way of showing submissive behaviour, belly rubbing is not recommended.
Point: Dogs carry certain intestinal parasites, fleas, and ticks that cause human illnesses. Sleeping with a dog increases human exposure to these parasites and vector-borne diseases. Very young, very old, and immune compromised people are particularly at risk of infection.
The “alpha roll (or roll over)” is a form of physical punishment or “correction” used in traditional compulsive training methods to discipline dogs. It consists of grabbing the dog, usually by the scruff and hurling the dog to the ground, usually pinning the dog on his or her back, in a submissive position.
The alphas always lead the pack. So if your dog lets you go through a door, then it's a sign that he is following your lead. A pack leader has the responsibility of leading and protecting the rest of the pack. Your dog will be looking for protection by letting you face anything dangerous on the other side of the door.
Dogs choose their favorite people based on positive interactions and socialization they have shared in the past. Like humans, dogs are especially impressionable as their brains develop, so puppies up to 6 months old are in their key socialization period.