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Training Your Dog :: Now Let’s Talk About Dominance Aggression

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By Paul Reedy

A lot of times when you mention the word dominant, people assume you mean the way two dogs interact with each other. When I mention the word dominance, I am referring to the way a dog interacts with people.

How Do You Know When You Are Dealing With A Dominant Aggressive Dog?

Any dog who growls and bites at you when you: (1) disturb it while it sleeps; (2) try taking away a bone or toy; (3) show some type of hostility toward another dog or person that the dominant dog perceives as his mate; (4) reach for a food bowl, usually while the dog is eating; (5) stand over the dog and stare; (6) remove the dog from its favorite sleeping area, bed or couch; (7) try making it stop doing something you do not like; correcting it; and (8) simply pet the dog in a manner it does not like.

What is the Cause of Dominance Aggression?

I believe that there are two main factors that cause this behavior. The first and most common factor is a weak owner. That may have sounded harsh but let me explain.

Dogs are basically wolves. You, your family, and your dog make a pack. In any pack there must be a leader and followers. Dogs know no other way to live. If your dog does not see you as a leader then it will assume the role -- some willingly and some unwilling. Every dog requires a different level of leadership.

For example, I consider myself a strong leader to my dogs. I make the rules and enforce them. For 9 out of 10 dogs, I may be a good pack leader. For that 10th dog, my level of strength may not be high enough and the dog may want to assume leadership.

When it comes down to it, it’s not how strong you think you are, but how strong your dog thinks you are. Like a spoiled child, most dogs in this group do what they do because we allow it.

Then there is that rare dog that is born with a twisted perception of himself. I call this dog a true dominant aggressive dog. Sometimes no amount of strength or training will help in avoiding the problem.

(continued next week)

Paul Reedy is a new Urban Chic columnist. He was in law enforcement from 1994-2001. He decided to venture out into the area of dog training and made a point to do everything in his power to increase his knowledge of dogs and how they think. He attended Triple Crown Dog Academy and is certified as a Canine Behavior and Training Specialist. In December of 2001, Reedy attended Adlerhorst International for additional training as a police dog handler. For questions about your dog contact Paul at

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