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Dominant Dog Behavior or Stupid Human Behavior

For some reason, we as dog trainers love to tell dog owners what their dog can do, and what their dog can’t do.

  • Don’t let your dog go out of the door in front of you.
  • Don’t let your dog walk in front of you.
  • Don’t let your dog sleep on your bed.
  • Don’t let your dog on your furniture.
  • Don’t let your dog put their paw on you.
  • Don’t let your dog push up against you.
  • Don’t let your dog eat before you.
  • Don’t let your dog jump on you.
  • Don’t let your dog eat grass.
  • Don’t do this. Don’t do that.

Most of these thing’s are taught under the pretense, that if your dog does any of them. He’s trying to show his dominance over you. Sadly this couldn’t be further from the truth. Since there are like a gazillion dogs living in homes, there are a lot people that actually have an alpha dog. They are usually the dogs that the pet owners get complimented on for being a calm, well mannered dogs. The reason is simple, an alpha is a relaxed and confident dog, there’s no need for him to act like a maniac.

And by the way, There is nothing carved in stone about what your dog can or can’t do, in your home or with you. It’s entirely your decision, on what’s acceptable or not for your dog.

Have yourself a great day.

The Spirit Dog

dogs relaxing No photo’s, please

big big meow You smell Different

big big meow 2 Alright time to relax


13 Responses

  1. About a year ago I got a male dog from a family that kept him in a kennel for the last 3 years of his life, with no human contact except for the hand that fed him. His name is Ace and he is 7 years old, and a blue heeler lab mix. It was just me and him for the first 5 months. I vowed to give him everything he had been deprived of. I babied him pretty much. I am a dog groomer so he even went to work with me.He was an amazing dog. I never even had to use a leash when we went on our walks. Since then I have taken in another little puppy named Zoe she is a German Rot. I had most of my attention on her in the begining because a week after I got her she got parvo, and a few other medical conditions. With enough money and TLC, she is in perfect health and 8 months old now. About 3 months ago me and my boyfriend decided it was time to move intogether. He has a 3 year old PitBull Rot named D, we live on 5 acres and they have plenty of room to roam, yet with all the changes in the last year I am noticing severe changes in Aces additude. he has really bad seperation axiety, so we vow to take him everywhere with us which also included in trading in our neon for a SUV. I feel that there may have been to many changes for him this year, how can help him cope with it, cuz sometime he will mope in the bedroom and whimper, and other times he will run after the other dogs and attack them. Please HELP me, i’m not sure what to do. I love him so much and I’m at a loss of what to do. Could it be possible that the vet is overlooking something medicaly?

  2. Dear Sally:

    Kudos to you for letting the dogs be dogs. I have a great Border Collie x named Anubis, we got him from a pet rescue shelter and had no idea if he had issues or not, but we adopted him when he was 5 or 6 weeks old no issues that we found. He is almost 2 years old and we have been complimented on his behaviour around other dogs, especially little ones, and he loves cats. He had some training but for the most part he does what comes naturally to a dog, he lies down to show he means no harm, he waits until another dog comes up to him before he starts to play and he even rolls onto his back to show submission. He is the most wonderful dog you could ask for and the things he does like lying down to show no harm he learned on his own it is probably instinct we did not teach him this behaviour. A lot of people have asked us if they could borrow him or even buy him, but as you know a family member is never for sale no matter what the offer is. I completely agree with you about letting the dog be a dog, except when it comes to really aggressive dogs who attack for no reason that’s when my dog either goes home or to another area of the park to play where the BAD A*& ATTITUDE dogs can’t get him and I leave it to the other people to discipline their dogs. We also adopted a Japanes Chin puppy that adores Anubis and he puts her in her place when she tries to be Alpha dog, So big or small dogs know their place in the pack and the other dogs will make sure that they know it and will show respect to the Alpha. I know because when the puppy tries to bite or gets yappy Anubis steps in front of her and then lets me do the rest, that is pure respect from my dog. Again keep up the good work and have fun.

    Yours truly,


  3. Hi Sally,

    Vent all you like.

    In the above post, I need you to read that first sentence again.

    It is only possible for a complete a**hole to quash a dogs spirit. People that show little to no affection for their dogs, and literally subscribe to the dominant alpha mumbo jumbo.

    You being a loving and caring dog person, it would be impossible for you to diminish his merry soul. Regardless of what you do.

    It’s not foolish to want both, it’s actually easy to accomplish.

    The above “Don’t List” in my post, is my attempt to poke fun at how ridiculous some of the stuff that is taught by the dog training community, actually is.

  4. I have a 4-year-old field-bred springer spaniel, Sam, that absolutely thinks he runs the household, i.e., counter surfs, bullys our older dog. I recognize the list above as things dog trainers tell you not to let your dog do to keep them from being dominant, and I’ve been doing some of them. Like most springers, Sam has a joyful personality and while I would like to be able to answer the door and still have my breakfast on the table when I return, I’m increasingly unwilling to quash the spirit in this free wheeling animal. I not so sure it’s stubborness or dominance I’m dealing with as much as a spirit I can’t really identify. I look into his eyes and see only love and playfulness. He has one brown eye and one blue eye so I’m never sure which one to look at. I guess what I’m trying to say is I’m torn between wanting a well-behaved dog and wanting a dog to be a dog. Perhaps it’s foolish to want both, but I struggle with forcing this merry soul that lives in my house to live under human rules when all he wants to do is be a dog. Thanks for letting me vent. Sally

  5. Hello Maggie

    Well it’s a little tough to tell exactly what your dog is doing, without some more information or without me seeing it. But having said that, most likely your dog is just looking for affection.

    Forget about want anybody tells about dominant dog behavior, and the signs to look for. ( see above list ) There are a lot of well meaning and good people that unfortunately continue to repeat inaccurate information, in regards to displayed dominant dog behaviors.

    I would like for you to think for yourself, when your dog is on the couch next to you and nuzzling your cheek. What are her eye’s telling you, you can read a dogs eye’s like you can read a toddlers eye’s. Does her eye’s look mad, sad, happy, loving or playful ?

    If you really want me to tell you what she is doing, make a video and put it on youtube or something. Then send me the link.

  6. We have a Brittany. We let her on the couch and when she sits by me she puts her face against my face, right under my eye, and just stares at me. I thought it was cute and id usually just kiss her snout but someone told me she was showing her dominace over me. Is this true?

  7. I was just going over my comments and I noticed I didn’t get back to you. I apologize, do you still need help ?

  8. I have a beauceron that doesn’t like being handled by people he doesn’t know, (he will attempt a bite, and it is unpredictable). I am worried to death about it. we are training towards working trials, he was well socialised with people and other dogs as a puppy, well handled by all and sundry as a puppy. As a juvenile he was attacked by another dog and is now unreliable around other dogs, although recently this is improving. I have been working along the lines of a nervous aggression problem, I an now being told that he is dominant and that I have allowed it to happen. Does he pull – no;does he rush through doors in front of me- no; does he object to me handling his food or his bowl – no; he allows me to handle all parts of his body without a problem. I want to sort this out, but if the inner dog is dominant, then surely management is the only option. Training has not been the cure all that seems to be advocated for dominance. HELP!

  9. Absolutely Outstanding Abbey !!!

    If more people would look at what their dog is doing from a simple, analytical and logical standpoint. There would be much less confusion as to why our dog is doing something.

    Dogs love to push up against people who show them affection, you hit the nail on the head, it’s a learned behavior.

    What I’m really curious about is two things,
    1- Who came up with that idea that a dog pushing up against us, is showing dominance.
    2- Why do people blindly follow this advice.

    You set some rules and boundaries ,but yea, let them be a dogs. Like here at the sanctuary, we only got two rules don’t fight, and don’t bite people. That’s it.

    If I’m stupid enough to leave something out and they chew it up, that’s my fault. They want to roll in something stinky, have fun. Want to get muddy in the creeks, knock yourself out.

    I have such a huge problem with this whole alpha thing. Getting a dog happy and teaching him to play like a dog solves the majority of your fear aggression issue.

  10. Chels, like most Danes leans. Someone tried to suggest this was dominant behaviour. No its learnt behaviour. At her height when she stands beside a person and leans they automatically reach down and stroke her side…so she leans further..you can almost hear her purr….

    If you took all these lists on dog training sites as gospel, one would have to assume there is a specics hell bent on human domination…sometimes I think let the poor things be dogs for god sake…

  11. How are you tonight, Melina

    Which ones do you agree with and which ones do you disagree with. If you caught the first sentence underneath the list it said, ” Most of these thing’s are taught under the pretense, that if your dog does any of them. He’s trying to show his dominance over you.”

    Except for the grass thing and the furniture thing. The rest are taught that these are signs of dominance. It couldn’t’ be further from the truth.

    I was going to tell you what a real alpha dog does, But I would like you to tell me, ” What happens if an alpha dog decides you are challenging him” Please be as specific as possible.

  12. hi i don’t agree with some stuff but the rest i agree

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