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How you can tell if your dog is dominant

A list compiled by Helix Fairweather

The following is a collection of behaviors that have been attributed to “dominance” over the many years that dog trainers have clung to that model. I solicited a group of trainers for everything they have heard or said that indicated a dog was dominant. Some of the entries have editorial comments after them. Those came from the person submitting that entry to the list. When an editorial comment is mine, it is prefaced with “HF:”

I thought this list would be rather amusing and in a small way, I guess it is. But mostly it’s sad and pathetic. My goodness, our poor dogs! They can’t do much without being labeled “dominant”. Can anyone picture the dog that doesn’t do any of these behaviors? Has anyone ever met a dog who did none of these? They can’t all be “dominant” now, can they? :-/
——- Helix Fairweather,, June 2005

A dog has been labeled “dominant” for the following behaviors:

1. paw whacks
2. going through the doorway first
3. jumping up
4. not instantly performing whatever behavior was just cued
5. sitting/lying on the furniture
6. being destructive in the house
7. barking at strangers on the street
8. peeing in the house
9. pulling on the leash
10. leaning on people for petting
11. barking while family is eating
12. struggling with/trying to paw at head halter
13. chewing through leash
14. scraping feet after peeing or pooping
15. putting a foot on top of owner’s foot
16. rushing out the door
17. walking in front of you
18. not getting out of the way
19. stealing a Kleenex
20. non-compliant dog, refusing to do as you ask
21. nudging, pawing, begging for attention
22. bumping into you
23. standing over you
24. putting dog paws on your shoulders
25. barking at you in response to a cue
26. stealing your items
27. house soiling past the usual expected time a dog should be trained
28. body slamming you with their rear end
29. having his “lipstick” out (HF: male dog, think about it, it took me a minute) 30. won’t sit, down, or anything else unless he feels like it
31. barks at me when I yell at her
32. bites me (my favorite was the recommendation from a vet regarding a 5 -week- old rescue pup whose mother died, he instructed the foster mom to alpha roll the pup 3 times a day)
33. eats too fast (i’m not kidding)
34. won’t come in the house
35. won’t get off the bed/sofa
36. barks at strangers
37. barks at the cat
38. barks at cars
39. when in the car, barks at people who walk by the car
40. growls when i try to take his bone
41. growls when i try to take his toy
42. lays down when i’m walking him (young giant breed puppy, being walked 2 miles in the heat, idiot is lucky the pup is still alive!)
43. barks while i’m getting her meal
44. throws his food bowl around
45. mounts my 3 yr old
46. stood on my bed, looked me right in the eye and peed on my pillow
47. growled at other dog when they were introduced (after questioning the poster about the situation, they were introduced in a 6′ x 6′ hall where there were 4 adults and 3 children)
48. my puppy puts everything in her mouth
49. obeys my husband, doesn’t listen to me
50. mounts me
51. mounts my brother in law
52. barks when left alone
53. pees in crate
54. isn’t neutered
55. 8 week old puppy dives on golden, bites him
56. licks the bottom of my shoes (huh?)
57. is dominant over my other dog and my other dog gets hot spots
58. growls at me when i put her citronella collar on her
59. snores (another real eye opener for me!)
60. eats rocks
61. eats off of kids’ plates
62. lunges at people
63. steals my shoes
64. poops on husband’s clothes (in my never humble opinion, serves him right for leaving his clothes on the floor…tee hee)
65. stares at me
66. puts her paw on me when i pet her
67. when he’s bad and i shake his scruff, he’s started to growl at me (wow! what a good start at owner induced aggression!)
68. tried to bite my son when my son tried to drag him out from under the bed
69. when trying to grab his collar to take him inside or finish playing he starts running crazy away from you
70. always wants more food
71. peeing on your leg
72. not giving up items on request
73. being stubborn
74. growling, snarling, snapping, biting
75. sitting on owner’s foot

This will blow right past some people. Sad
This will elicit nods of agreement. Even Sadder

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