The key to harmony and peace in doggie world is a reliable social system with an established pack leader. In a household environment, a dog should view his owner as the leader. If he perceives himself as dominant and in charge, however, it could just be a recipe for chaos.
If your dog behaves in a fiercely protective manner regarding all of the things he holds valuable, then he's partaking in a dominant behavior known as resource guarding. If he exposes his teeth and growls at you any time you even look at him while he's eating, for instance, this just may be the case. This also applies to other things your dog might find protection-worthy, such as toys and bones.
A defiant dog also points to one with dominance issues. If your commands seem to go in one of your dog's ears and out the other, even when he is fully aware of what he needs to do, dominance could be the issue. Whether your dog abstains from sitting or sleeping when instructed, this lack of obedience is something to note.
In Your Space
When a dog seems to have zero respect for your space, it could be because he thinks he's the boss in your house. Perhaps he constantly stands in front of you, refusing to budge, every time you attempt to walk across the living room. Perhaps he always jumps onto your lap and stands on it -- ensuring that his head is in a higher position than yours. Leaning and pushing into you are both also classic dominant behaviors.
Dogs that have pushy temperaments in general also display dominant patterns. If your dog always has to be in front of you, as if he's the leader, this is something to consider. Observe your dog as you prepare to take him outdoors for a walk. If he insists on you trailing him on the way out, rather than leading him, he thinks that he's the alpha canine. If your pet always has to have first access to anything, from meals to couch space, the clues are already in place.
Any hints of aggression are indicative of dominance. Whether growling, biting, snarling, lunging or barking extremely loudly to you or anyone else in your home, it's crucial to never ever dismiss aggressive behaviors in canines. Since dealing closely with aggressive canines can be extremely dangerous, it's vital to talk to your veterinarian about getting the help of a professional -- a reputable expert in the field of animal behavior problems. Abstain from attempting to manage and fix the serious situation on your own.
Subtle Body Language
Body language can also express dominance issues in dogs. If your dog attempts to appear physically bigger and more imposing than he really is by tightening up his muscles, he's looking to be the head guy. You might observe that his body is pushed a tad to the front, almost as if he is prepared to move forward and quickly attack at any minute. Intense and extended staring episodes, whether directed at humans or other household dogs, often denote dominance, too. Elevated, rigid-looking tails that tremble slightly also are a sign, as are ears pointed to the front.
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