Member Login


Support Us

Dominance Aggression

Dominance refers to power or control over others. Dominance depends on a relationship with someone else. The same dog may show dominance towards one dog or person and not towards another dog or person. The most common example of this would be in a family with children where the dog does not display dominance aggression towards the parents but does towards the children. The dog recognizes and respects the parents' authority over her but does not recognize the childrens' power over her. When dogs live in a domestic situation with humans, they must learn to defer control to any and all humans. This is for everyone's safety and the dog's own good. Fortunately for the dog, with less power comes less responsibility.

Signs of Dominance Aggression

If your dog becomes aggressive whenever you try to move her, restrain her, touch her, or manipulate her in any way, it could be a dominance issue. She may even try to control YOUR movements and tell YOU what to do. If you can't put a leash on your dog or give her a bath or even just pet her when you want to, it may be dominance aggression.

Dominance aggression can also be dog-dog. If a dog guards the toy she's playing with, it's possession. If she claims every toy in the house as her own, it's dominance. If your dog won't allow another dog to move from or to a certain area, it is a dominance issue.

Basically, if a dog decides that she will do whatever she wants to do, and you will do whatever she wants you to do, and the other dog(s) will do whatever she wants them to do, AND she enforces her rules with aggression, it is a dominance problem.

What do I do about it?

First, work on leadership exercises. Set rules, and make sure they are consistently enforced. Do not free feed your dog. Make her move out of your way rather than you moving out of hers by teaching Excuse Me. Most importantly, do all this with your brain and not your brawn. If you set up a physical struggle with a dog, you could BOTH lose.

In most cases, the dog is being dominant because she doesn't feel that others have shown themselves worthy of holding the power of the household. In a dog's world, there has to be a leader. If no leader emerges, your dog will have no choice but to take over the role. Most dogs will be relieved when you shoulder the responsibility for them. For those who aren't impressed and still want the power, it will be a little more difficult to treat the aggression. This is a case where tenacity will serve you well. You will win the battle of wits by being more stubborn than your dog is. Enforce your rules consistently, firmly, and fairly, keeping yourself safe in the process. Remember to use a muzzle if necessary while you teach her that you can and will put your hands on her.

Additional Resources

Dominance Aggression Overview

Dominance Aggression Treatment Program

Dominance and Territorial Aggression are related

Why not take candy from a baby?

Attitude Adjustment
P. O. Box 715 •  Lexington, SC 29071  •  (803) 622-9813 •  caretoadopt [ at ]