How To Reverse Roles With A Demanding Dominant Dog

If your pet demands attention and obeys only when he wants to, then you have a dominant dog. Your pet is calling the shots in your relationship and this has to change. To do this, you must first understand the dog's urges, and learn how to diffuse them in a positive manner. I say positive because dominant dogs will typically escalate their aggression when physical corrections are made. Physical force such as using a leash and collar may work short term, but is generally only a short term solution.

The key is learning how not to trigger aggressive responses. If you call your pet and he will not come, leave him alone. If you want to pet him and you call him over successfully, then pet him. Do not go to him. Give him praise and attention only when he responds to your command to come. Do not go to him and pet him if he will not come to you.

Another common act of a dominant dog is to come over to you and nudge you with his nose, essentially demanding you pet him. This is a cute behavior that is hard to resist, but you should. It is important that you do not acknowledge this behavior. Doing so only encourages these demanding tendencies.

There are some common areas for you to recognize and control if you want to be the top dog.

1. Who sleeps in the best spot. The best spot is the area that is considered either the most comfortable or the closest to the dominant figure in the pack.

2. Who eats first. Survival of the fittest means that the strong eat before anyone else. Therefore, feed yourself before feeding your pet.

3. Who walks in front. This one may be a little more difficult to change, but the one walking in front is the leader. If you are always following your dog, he is the leader and you are the follower. I understand that dogs are walked on a lead. But if your pet is pulling you around the neighborhood why wouldn't he think he's the one in charge. You determine when to turn and where to go when you take him for a walk.

4. Who protects the pack. Another tough one. Obviously the leader protects the pack. If your dog has a hard time settling down when a visitor arrives at the door and the barking seems somewhat aggressive, the dog is assuming that it is his job to inspect and decide who can enter his domain. This could be the manifestation of a protection drive. It is up to you to teach your dominant dog that he is not involved in protection issues. You will take care of such problems for him.

5. Who owns the toys. A dog that controls his toys may be inadvertently trained to guard them. Leaving his toys around for him to play with suggests his ownership of these toys. It is a good idea to take a dominant dog's toys away when he is not using them and give them to him when you want to play.

6. Who controls the play time. Dogs will throw their toys or balls in your lap to get you to play with them. This can be a harmless act, but it can also be a dominant act. Initiate play on your terms. It is amazing what a dog will do for his owner for a short play session. Play can be used as a reward for compliant behavior.

Please note that not all of the above actions are signs of a demanding dog. Most of the time they are all harmless. It is up to you to recognize if these are signs of dominance in your pet. If they are, correct them. If not, then don't worry. Only take corrective measures if you consider (or more specifically if your pet considers) the dog to have the upper hand in your relationship. A healthy relationship depends on you being the leader.

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