Is Your Dog Dominant Or Submissive?

Your dog is part of your human “pack” and as such, you and even your other family members are dominant over the dog, even the youngest child in the family. It’s important to recognize how dominant or submissive your dog is, as you don’t want a dominant dog overstepping his bounds with his human family.

How do you recognize dominance or submissive behavior in your dog? And please understand most dogs will fall somewhere along the spectrum of a dominant or submissive personality and not at one end or the other. 

Submissive dogs will retreat when another dog attempts to take their toys or food and will let other dogs win at tug of war. When other dogs stare at him he will turn away and will roll on his back, displaying his belly. Submissive dogs will often urinate when meeting other dogs and will shower them with attention, even licking their faces and lips.

Dominant dogs will guard their toys and food and will also steal them. When walking with a group of other dogs, dominant dogs will force their way to the front of the group. They will make other dogs wait for them, plus start and win staring contests with other dogs. 

These dogs will attempt to mount other dogs, male or female does not matter. They always seem to have the other dogs’ attention, even if they are actively seeking it. If they play tug of war with other dogs, they will win.

You may have to put in a little more effort with a more dominant dog, giving them plenty of structure, training and mental and physical stimulation to keep them happy within your pack structure.

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By Ellen Britt

Dr. Ellen Britt has loved dogs since she was a child. She is particularly fond of the Northern breeds, especially Alaskan Malamutes. Ellen worked as a PA in Emergency and Occupational Medicine for two decades and holds a doctorate (Ed.D.) in biology.

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