Is your dog dominant or submissive? Interpret behavior

It is a misconception that dogs are either dominant or submissive. In fact, the same dog can behave very differently in different situations. Dominance has nothing to do with disobedience, it just shows who is higher up in the hierarchy at that moment. These two Rhodesian Ridgeback puppies play "dominant" and "submissive" - ​​Shutterstock / Anke van Wyk

Anyone who describes their dog as fundamentally dominant or submissive will not do justice to the complexity of the dog's behavior. A four-legged friend, who is at the top of the ranking list for his dog friends at home, can use the dog meadow to express foreign comrades to soothing signals and thus show submissive behavior. Dominance should also not be an excuse for mistakes in dog training.

Dog is dominant: body language and behavior

If a dog behaves dominantly, this can be seen quite clearly in its body language. He makes himself as big as possible, looks confident and sets the tone. For example, he keeps his head upright, his body is pushed through and his ears are raised and directed forward. It holds its gaze or possibly stares, its tail raised high and waving at a slow, calm pace - as if waving a flag. Dominant dogs put their head or chin on the back or shoulder of their peers. If the submissive four-legged friend has rolled on its back, the dominant animal may be standing over it.

Dominant dogs, or the animals that enjoy the highest status, may use resources; But that doesn't mean that they always eat before everyone else, are allowed to choose a toy first, or always go ahead. It depends on what is important to the "Alpha" dog. What he attaches importance to, he makes clear to his four-legged roommates, who leave their privileges to their "pack leader".

This is how a dog behaves who is submissive

Appeasement signals are always a sign that your dog is submissive at this moment. With his body language and behavior he shows that he is not a threat, that he comes with peaceful intentions and does not intend to contest the dominant conspecifics with his territory, food, toys or place in the order of rank. He makes himself as small as possible, bends or lowers his body and keeps his ears low. The rod may have been pinched or at least lowered. Submissive dogs often turn on their backs and show their belly, a vulnerable area.

In the game dogs alternate between submissive and dominant, sometimes one or the other may play the role of the "alpha animal". It is important that both dominant and submissive behavior is normal and useful for dogs; one is no better or worse than the other.

Dog behavior: understand body language

Dog behavior is strongly influenced by body language. Does the dog want with other dogs ...

Caution! Do not confuse dominance and educational mistakes

A widespread misconception about dog training is that humans as pack leaders have to dominate their dogs. To accomplish this, rules are recommended, which sometimes seem very dogmatic. The four-legged friend should only be last through the door, should only get its food when people have eaten, and would always have to be punished if they rebelled against these rules.

Proponents of this theory overlook the fact that dogs are not disobedient to rebel and annoy their people - after all, they are not pubescent teenagers. If a four-legged friend does not follow certain rules, he either does not know that these rules exist or has not understood what you want him to do at the moment. Disobedience is a symptom of a failed upbringing or misunderstanding in dog-human communication. This is an opportunity for you to learn to understand your four-legged friend better and to adapt better to him. In the guide "How your dog understands commands better: 5 tips" you will find information on how to fix the communication problems.