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Even though dogs feel like members of the family, they’re still animals — and, as such, they can exhibit dominant or territorial traits. In situations where there are other aggressive dogs, this can be good and protective; it keeps your pup from being harmed. The problem comes when you’re the one being challenged, and your dog is trying to dominate you.

How do you know if your dog is showing dominance? There are several signs. From the obvious growling and snarling to the less obvious climbing on furniture or being disobedient, these behaviors reveal a little of what’s going on in your pup’s mind.

To help you determine if your dog is showing dominance in your home, here’s a list of signs that indicate your furry friend feels in charge:


If your dog is baring her or his teeth, growling, snarling and/or barking at anyone who gets close, it’s a way of establishing dominance. This is also true if your pet is guarding you and not letting anyone get near you without lunging or sneering. These behaviors show your dog wants to protect itself or you — but, if left unchecked, your pet could potentially bite someone if challenged.

Climbing on Furniture

The higher up on the couch or bed, the more the dominance.

Unless you’ve established that it’s A-OK for your dog to climb on furniture and beds, any attempts to do so are displays of dominant behavior. In fact, even if you are fine with your pets being on the furniture, it’s important they only do it when you give permission. While getting up on the living room sofa or your bed may not seem like a big deal, when it’s done without your approval, it’s your dog’s way of putting you in a lower position.

Constant Barking

Nobody wants a dog that’s non-stop barking. Excessive barking is more than a nuisance, though; it’s evidence of a dog trying to show dominance. If your dog is yapping nonstop, it’s because she or he wants to show dominance.

Fighting You, The Vet, etc.

A dog that won’t let you or anyone else handle her or him is a dog that doesn’t want to submit to human authority. Beyond being frustrating, this can make it extremely difficult to care for or control your pup.

Demanding Your Attention

While it’s normal for a dog to want you to play, it’s a sign of establishing dominance if your dog is pushing a toy into you, pawing you, nudging you and/or whining to make you pay attention. This too evidences an unwillingness to submit and a demand to be the one in control.

Ignoring Well-Known Commands

If your dog understands simple commands such as “stay,” “sit” or “lay down,” but stops obeying them, there’s a reason. Your pet is trying to show dominance and a disregard for your authority.

Inappropriate Actions

Some behaviors are so far over the line, it almost goes without saying that you have a problem. Dogs that hump you, your guests and/or other animals are trying to show that they rank higher in the pack. Likewise, if you pup goes to the bathroom on your bed, it’s to disrespect your authority and establish dominance. Consider these behaviors a warning sign that your dog has a major problem.

As the list above demonstrates, there are many ways that dogs show signs of dominance, and they vary in severity. Keep in mind, too, that most dogs will be dominant in some situations and submissive in others. It’s normal for a pup to act dominant around smaller dogs, for example, but seem submissive around larger ones.

If you think you may have a dominance problem with your pet, get help from a trainer or specialist. Teaching your dog that you’re the one in charge is not only good for you, but it also gives your pup the security of letting you be the caretaker.

photo cred:

AUTHOR BIO: Alec Hutchins is Chief Marketing Officer of Recherche Kennels – Doodles, a professional breeding and training facility. Recherche Kennels has over 10 years of experience breeding with top parent bloodlines and training puppies to be the perfect family pet.

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