Does it feel like you’re living in a dog run house, where your pooch rules the roost? If so, you’re not alone. A lot of dog parents are going through the exact same thing.
The good news is, there are lots of ways you can restore the proper balance of order to your home. Whether you have a new puppy or an adult dog who has been the “leader of the pack” for far too long, you can take back control.
Here’s some information on how to tell if your dog rules the house, and ways to rectify the situation.
How To Tell If Your Dog Rules The House
There’s a chance you might not even realize that your dog has established a dominant position in your home. For example, does your pooch wake you up every morning? That might be a sign of disrespect – your dog is in control instead of you. 1
Here are some other potential signs you’re allowing your dog to rule the roost:
- Letting your dog enter or exit a room before you do.
- Feeding your dog before you eat your own meal.
- Rewarding your dog – even if they behave badly.
- Allowing your dog to jump on you or others. 2
Dealing With A Dominant Dog
If you want to restore balance to the relationship between you and your dog, there are a few training methods that might help. If your dog knows their place in the home hierarchy, they’ll likely be happier. A dog’s behavior can sometimes be a problem when they’re confused about their role in your pack.3
One of the best methods of training a dog to understand their role can be done during your daily walk. This is the ideal time for pet parents to establish their place as the leader. You should, for instance, use the leash to control where your dog goes potty. Don’t just let them go wherever they choose. They should go where you want them to go. Also, the dog should always follow you, instead of the other way around.4
Feeding time is another great opportunity to establish your role as “top dog.” The leader of the pack – which should be you – should always eat before the others. Don’t allow the dog to be anywhere near the dinner table while you and your family are having a meal. Once you’re finished and it’s time to feed your pet, don’t give any food until your pup is calm and submissive.5
Other Ways To Correct This Unwanted Behavior: The Power Of Positive Reinforcement In Training A Dog Or Puppy
Training your dog should never include any sort of punishment – either physical or verbal. Positive reinforcement is the best dog training method, and should always be used any time you’re trying to change your dog’s behavior. This is true whether you’re crate training a puppy, trying to house train your pooch, or attempting to curb dominance in your adult dog.6
When trying to teach your dog a new behavior, you should always remain calm. Your dog will pick up on your energy – especially a dominant dog. If you show signs of being nervous or anxious, that could make your dog resort to their dominant ways. But if you’re calm and in charge, the dog should be calm as well. They’ll know things are fine, and they’ll be less likely to revert to their dominant tendencies.7
Is Separation Anxiety Part Of The Problem?
In some cases, a dog with dominant behavior might be suffering from separation anxiety. Small dogs and large dogs alike can simply be
terrified of being away from their pet parents for any period of time. This may result in fear-based aggressive behavior.8
Separation anxiety is common in dogs. As many as one in six dogs may have this personality issue. Most of the time, your dog will act fine as long as you’re home. But as soon as you leave, your pooch might start acting out. This could mean tearing up your furniture, attacking the cat, or exhibiting other troublesome behaviors, such as soiling the carpet or barking excessively.9
Some dogs with this problem react well to being confined in one room or a crate. Other dogs might become even more terrified. They may try to destroy the crate or any baby gates that are keeping them separated from the rest of your home.10
If you have a dog with separation anxiety and you can’t determine the best way to address the issue, talk to your veterinarian. Your vet may be able to recommend an animal behaviorist who could provide an effective solution.
When Your Dog Exhibits Aggressive Behavior: This Might Be The Time For A Professional Dog Trainer
Most of the time, dominant behavior in a dog can be solved through basic training methods. There are some instances, however, where a professional dog trainer may be needed. Professionals know how to teach a dog new behaviors and ways to make it safer for you and others to interact with your pet.
You should never feel bad about contacting an experienced trainer. It may be the only way you can once again have a loving relationship with your companion. Contact a professional if you ever feel overwhelmed, your dog has a history of biting, or if your dog is very aggressive or fearful.11
Take your time and do some research in order to find the trainer who will best meet your needs. Check to make sure the trainers you’re considering have a background in dealing with dominant, aggressive dogs. Also, check to see what kinds of training methods they use and whether they can provide referrals from clients who have had the same kinds of issues that you’re experiencing. Ask your vet if they can recommend a suitable trainer for your dog.12
One thing you will also want to do is to rule out any sort of medical issue. There are some conditions that can make a dog act out. It can make them irritable, or even aggressive. Some older dogs, for example, can have cognitive issues that lead to aggression. Medications can sometimes lead to aggression as well. Again, work with your veterinarian to determine if a medical issue might be to blame for aggressive or dominant behavior.13
Taking Action To Ensure A Happy Home
If you believe your dog is trying to take over a dominant position in your home, talk to an expert. If you’re afraid to let your dog go into the baby’s room, or you’re worried about you or another member of your family’s safety, don’t hesitate to get help. With a little training, the chances are very good your dog will once again be a loving companion.