David Shankbone, CC-BY-SA 3.0 via Creative Commons
This post is written for This and That Thursday, hosted by Two Brown Dogs and our friendly Ruckus the Eskie.
This Thursday, I have decided to discuss dog dominance, the signs of which many dog owners may not necessarily be alert to.
Needless to say, dealing with dominant behaviors in pets can be a challenge which takes time, effort and perseverance to overcome.
How do owners recognize the signs of dominance in pets and more importantly, overcome them? What turns sweet Fido into a domineering canine boss, sometimes over his owner?
What causes dominant behavior?
carterse, CC-BY-SA 2.0 via Creative Commons
Dogs are social animals who have a natural instinct to be members of a pack. They would cooperate with each other for survival in the wild and in general. The tight structure necessitates that they get along with each other to minimize disruption and conflict. The pack order helps to lessen tension and competition, very much similar to the office or social politics we are familiar with. The presence of a pack leader should lessen aggression and stabilize a pack.
Dogs usually start a series of confrontations within the pack to establish their rank within the group. The dog who has a hold over the rest of the pack,exhibits dominant behaviors and defeats the rest into submission will usually get the top spot. Subordinate dogs will in turn display behaviors that show submission and that confrontation is not necessary.
Therefore,a pack is established in a multi-dog household. The first is Alpha and the last, Omega. Such a phenomenon also explains the occurence of dominant behavior.
Inhibited behavior versus dominant behavior
Some dogs also have a propensity to be less inhibited in their behaviors than others and would naturally assume dominance over shyer, more inhibited dogs. The roles may, at times, be reversed. Between my two dogs, Misty and Cloudy, Cloudy, being the rambunctious West Highland she is, is the more dominant of the two. Misty, when pushed into a corner, does give this little girl a run for her money though. Dominance power play, as with office politics, is common among canines too.
No interest in leading a pack
Some dogs, like some of us, have no interest in being leaders and are pressurized by pack privilege when they assume higher ranks in the pack. That can create instability in the lower ranks and start a scuffle for the top position, with dominant behaviors emerging.
Human disinterest in the top job
The above explains what happens when humans show disinterest in leading the pack. in the house, the human is always the pack leader. When he or she shows weakness , the dogs observe the signs and start exhibiting dominant behaviors.
What are these behaviors exactly?
A dominant dog is usually:
Paws in order to get its owner to play
Nudging in order to be petted
Sits on the very tops of sofas and loves looking down on its “kingdom”
Prevents others from approaching its owners
Whining or barking at owners without being told to do so (many consider this cute)
High pitched whines of protest against something it does not wish to do, like take a bath.
Jumping on human owners without authorization.
Persistently “claiming” a piece of furniture as its own without wanting to get off
How do owners cope with dominant dogs?
JoF, CC-BY-SA 2.0 via Creative Commons
Once these dominant behaviors are spotted, coping with them becomes easier. Measures should be taken as soon as they are recognized.
Be a pack leader.
Understand that dogs see their human owners as other dogs which should assume the
top position in a pack. The Alpha Dog automatically becomes Beta after you.
To establish authority and to get him to obey commands, be calm, assertive but not mean when the dog exhibits unwanted behaviors.
Eat before dominant dogs.
A strong pack leader would usually be the first to eat at a meal. Make a dominant dog wait his turn while you eat first, ignoring it if it starts begging for food.
Make your dominant dogs sit or wait while food bowls are being prepared.
A dominant dog will usually hassle in the kitchen. Make it wait while you prepare their meals.
Walk through doors first.
When bringing a dominant dog out, walk through the doors first. Do not let the dog lead.
Train it in basic obedience.
A dominant dog should have skills in basic obedience, like sit, stay or down.
Dominant behavior can be corrected, with a few steps in a positive direction.
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This post is written for the Humor Me Blog Hop, hosted by none other than the deliciously funny Terrye Toombs of The Misplaced Alaskan.
I would like to introduce you to PetsAware’s anchor columnist, the intelligent (but rather snooty) Professor K9. He will give regular Tuesday takes on slices of life from his Dogfessional point of view.
For his inaugural column, Prof K9 would like to beef up the enrollment to his classes(apparently they are not really that popular). So he has enlisted me, Michelle, to be his reluctant but still obliging voice box and to help him out a little bit with his recruitment.
Still, I have told him that he has to do his part in making a pitch.
And here he is.
Professor K9’s Advertising Pitch for the University of Life
Now let me, Professor K9, begin by saying that I don’t mean to boast (but I’ll do it anyway). Canines like me have degrees in life’s many subjects. ranging from a Bachelor’s in Finding Joy in the Simple Pleasures of Life to a Doctorate in Living Life with a Sense of Humor. With a great teacher as I am, it is no wonder my class is always crammed with ignorant students. When one enters the great Professor K9’s classroom, one can be assured that he will come prepared with a bag full of useful and enriching life lessons for dog and human alike. So this is what students hoping to enroll can look forward to.
Classroom 101: How to make your presence felt
During this course, students will be taught how to greet their owners at the door. They will be given the necessary tools to make their greetings and self-proclamations really audible, so that owners will be able to know how much they are being missed and that the message gets through to the entire neighborhood. Resource packages include DVDs and audio tapes manufactured by the great professor, myself. Do note that spaces for the class are limited, so students are encouraged to sign up quickly.
Classroom 102: How to extricate yourself from sticky situations
This course teaches students the techniques of how to get themselves out of traumatic situations like baths, nail clipping and brushing teeth. Techniques include giving owners the runaround, running out of the house and backyard and simply refusing to move while owners do the tugging. My professional canine expertise will doubtless equip students with the necessary skills they need for survival in the questionable human world.
*Classroom 103: The resilience booster
The module includes compulsory field work. Students will practice digging for buried bonesand credits will only be awarded to those who show that they have the tenacity to stay in the field until all required bones have been found. With my dogged determination, I show students what it takes to develop the determination to keep digging and drive harassing human owners out of their minds. Do note that this is a compulsory module.
Classroom 104: The grooming module – how to be irresistably charming
This module teachings the basics of etiquette from a doggy perspective. Here, I use my pugnacious attractiveness to teach students how to reap greater rewards by turning on the charm. The course includes a section on how to open doe-like eyes wide so that owners will heap pity with an increased portion of food. This etiquette module better prepares students for life ahead, for interacting with ignorant human owners is rather tough.
Classroom 105: How to play
In this course, students will learn that play is a vital key to survival. Techniques taught will include stress relievers like romping, scratching, running and chewing on soft toys and slippers. An element of the course not to be missed; the Professor shows how to scratch at owner’s beds early in the morning so as to remind them that it is time for the Great Morning Walk. The noble professor teaches students that they must remember to play in the midst of all their busy schedules.
Classroom 106: Conflict management
This module, the sixth in the series of courses conducted by my esteemed academic self, shows students how dogs use the skill of managing conflicts. I will show that they never bite when a simple growl will do so that unnecessary misunderstandings can be avoided. Students interested in signing up for this module should note that it is useful for resolving petty conflicts with owners at work and in the home.
*Classroom 107: The asset protection module
Course materials for this module are related to module Classroom 103. Again, it is compulsory for students who sign up for classes in the University of Life. With my intelligent expertise, I teach students how to cherish and protect assets by “investing” or hiding them in various places. Protection of assets also includes knowing how to practice obedience to our tyrannical human masters and if necessary, give them a good nip when it is in our best interests to do so.
**Classroom 108: Loyalty
The module is double starred owing to its popularity, loyalty being needed to persuade silly humans to give us those few measly scraps daily I harness all dogs’ survival skills by demonstrating the essence of the word “faithful” as I stick, with a specific purpose in mind of course, closely to my owner.
Classroom 109 : How to love
Probably the most critical of modules, I, with my doggy charm in Classroom 109 demonstrate to students how to show love to others when I nuzzle them after sensing that they have had a terrible day.
A reminder from me to you future graduates that this is a critical module to take up as these foolish human owners tend to take us a little for granted at times. They need a little reminding with a few licks in the correct places.
As this module is a rather demanding one, students are recommended to attend consultations with Professor K9 regularly.Students are encouraged to contact Professor K9 at the University of Life should they have further enquires about the modules listed above.