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Can I train my dog ​​if he has a dominant tendency?

Can I train my dog ​​if he has a dominant tendency?


Can I train my dog ​​if he has a dominant tendency?

Territorial behavior, nervousness and a certain aggressiveness are traits that are usually attributed to dominant dogs. Can we do something to reverse them?

There are several theories and points of view about what a dominant dog is , an issue that is being questioned more and more every day, even being rejected by many experts. What is a dominant dog? When we refer to this, we usually talk about dogs that show a lot of character, that seek to be the first to eat, disobeying any order, that are territorial and even aggressive, and that do not obey the commands of their owners, therefore it is not easy to walk with them, they pull on the leash, they try to go where they want, and at home it seems that they are always questioning the rules and orders.


Therefore, he is seen as an alpha dog, who does not abide by the hierarchical situation that is imposed on him, neither by humans nor by other dogs. All this, in short, is a perfect cocktail for problems and conflicts. But is it really a question of dominance?

The dominance of a dog has traditionally been taken into account as an inescapable trait of his individual character, that is, it is taken into account as a characteristic of his personality, which defines him deeply and, therefore, if we want to modify it, it will be a matter of intensive work and re-education.


This is so because it is considered that there are docile dogs that act with submission and other persevering ones that are called to lead. All these theories are losing strength as a result of the most recent scientific studies, and from ethology and dog training new ways are being marked to treat dominance, as a result of this new approach. In short, there are no dominant dogs, but dogs that have not been properly educated.

The explanation for dominance

It depends a lot on what context we are analyzing the dog's behavior in. It is not the same to appreciate dominance in a dog that is in front of a female in heat and other males around, or if we appreciate the behavioral routines of a corpulent animal that lives in a home with other smaller dogs . Or if we observe that our dog simply ignores nothing and tends to put his desire or his criteria first in every situation.


It is true that there are biologically propitious situations to show a certain competitiveness or struggle to stand out,but experts agree that the vast majority of times we are referring to a dominant dog, the problem that underlies and motivates everything is none other than: poor education and training of the animal.

The most recent studies and the predominant opinion among trainers and ethologists is that the conflicts generated by an "alpha" dog specimen are very specific and isolated, and in the vast majority of cases a dominant behavior is nothing more than the tip of the tongue. iceberg of the failure of the human responsible for the dog to establish the guidelines and limits to match the needs and desires of the animal to a framework of practical and orderly behavior.

There are two very important keys to keep in mind, the first is that a dominant dog is not the most "anxious" of reaffirmation or of satisfying his needs or criteria, but a confident dog, who is aware of his "superiority" and who does not He manifests it gratuitously with grunts or shoves.


The true dominant dogs are those that stay away from casual fights, the one that watches them upright and the one that does not show fear or instability in the face of disputes. A graphic example: a dominant dog would be Mufasa, the father of The Lion King, and not a hyena hungry for his piece of loot.

The second important key: if a dog is "dominant" from an aggressive, impulsive or territorial point of view, it is most likely that he suffers from a serious conflict of self-confidence and stability when it comes to discerning what is expected of him. him, how to best fit into the family and canine pack.


Once again, the problem is one of training, but it may be linked to a previous fear or trauma related to his perception of himself, and why he feels that he must overpower and impose his criteria, for fear that others will do it. before against him. If a dog has been mistreated, in a new environment it may show itself as "dominant", that is, demanding independence and fear of losing control.

Rule number one of canine behavior

Dogs seek to belong to a pack, it is a trait that is engraved in fire because it guarantees greater security and, therefore, guaranteed survival. For a dog, it is much more important to belong to a group and fit into it than to make its needs or criteria prevail.


For this reason, they are more than willing to follow the instructions of a leader, their caregiver, reference person or household humans, because they appreciate that you have everything under control and they know that they will constantly receive a reward for staying under the umbrella of your “dominance”. That is, once the dog understands that he can trust the rules and leadership of a human, there is no biological reason to maintain a dominant appearance. 

Now, how is this achieved? As with any educational pattern, also in children, the rules must be clear, consistent and perpetual. Exceptions are the enemies of training. Dogs are also very faithful to patterns, their brain loves repetition because that way it can anticipate rewards.


You know: in the famous behavioral experiment of giving a dog a treat every time a bell rings, and when this is done a lot, the dog begins to salivate just by listening to the sound of the bell, even though he does not see or smell the reward. Training standards work in the same way, like a well-oiled machine, and with short and very clear guidelines. 

Once you reinforce a pattern, reward it with a reward, and have it established, the only and most important thing you must do is not fail in its coherence, if you make an exception the dog will not be able to know why yesterday yes and today no, and he will discard what has cost him so much time to learn: he will retrace the path traveled.


For example, if we do not want the dog to sleep in our bed, we manage to educate him not to do so through a long process of reorientation and rewards, and one day we feel melancholy and sadness and we want the dog to climb on the bed to hug him, then crossing that line will be throwing stones at our work.

Pulling the leash: a deeper meaning than it seems

Let's see a photo of what is considered a dominant dog, it is one that pulls on the owner's leash on every walk and turns the road into a kind of push, changes of course and continuous annoyances. Few examples are going to be more visual than this to understand that dominance is simply not having been constant and clear when establishing guidelines.


During the walk, the person who must set the pace is the human, both the rhythm and the route. At the moment in which we stop because the dog prefers to fork the road, or entertain himself with any smell, we are giving up the baton: sharing control with him, and this generates in their perception the idea that in the face of a distraction or their interest in changing our trajectory, nothing is as easy as pulling the leash and correcting us. 

The solution is simple, the dog must learn that it is useless to try to stop the passage at its convenience or opt for an alternative path just because our passage is safe and determined and we are not going to negotiate it.


Once the dog repeatedly realizes that pulling on the leash involves effort and even frustration because he gets nothing in return and that if he walks beside us he even receives rewards, he will begin to understand that this so-called "dominance" trait is not it compensates him, and he will give in. 

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