Dominance?

Humans and dogs have lived together for ages, but still there are a lot of things humans don’t understand about us. For instance: humans categorize dogs in being ‘dominant’ or ‘submissive’. A dog that is bossy they call dominant. They say it is his character, they believe he will always be a dominant dog. But that is not true, because every dog is dominant, now and then. It is not his character, it is the situation that matters, and the way we interact in this situation.

Maybe humans think their dog is dominant because he behaves in a bossy way when he is with them. For instance: there is a little dog living on the other side of our street – she is a mix chihuahua / Jack Russell. She usually goes out with her female human, barking all the time and snapping at other dogs. But last time I met her, she was walking with her male human. She was as sweet as a cheesecake, walking next to him, not barking and not even once pulling the leash. Does she have a dominant character? No, of course not. She is only bossy when her female human is with her. She reacts on the situation.

If you want to learn more about dogs, just look how they behave when they are with other dogs. When a dog is well balanced and social, you will see that sometimes she is bossy and sometimes she is not. Me, I grew up in a shelter amidst a large pack of dogs. One learns how to behave in such an environment, believe me! I am not a very submissive dog, I can be really bossy sometimes. But not all the time. When I meet a dog that is friendly and playful, I am friendly too. With my Staffordshire friend, for instance:

Social 1

Sometimes, when I meet a dog who behaves a bit bossy, I like to challenge him. I don’t care how big he is (this one for instance is huge, but when I stand on my long hind legs I can be very tall!), it is the energy that counts. By the way: some humans think this looks like fighting, but it isn’t. It is only measuring forces.

Social 3

And sometimes I meet a dog whose energy of that moment tells me to show respect:

Social 2

Humans will say he is more dominant than I am, but this is not true. He is more dominant in this situation. If he would walk into my house, or try to steal my food, I would certainly fight him and chase him away. Like I said: it is the situation that matters and the way we interact in this situation. This includes the humans that are around. Did you ever wonder why every dog gets calm and submissive when Cesar Millan is near? Because his energy is very clear. Only dumb stubborn dogs challenge him and we all know what happens to them!  Same with my personal trainer, Nicoline. She walks with a lot of dogs and we all respect her. There are some dogs in our pack that humans would call dominant, but with her none of us is.

It is true that some dogs are more bossy than others. But no dog is bossy all the time. This whole idea of dominant dogs that will always be dominant in any situation is a huge misconception. Don’t believe it.

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