It's not always dominance

As a truly dominant dog, Jessie was relaxed and confident in her role.  

Dominant - occupying or being in a commanding or elevated position.

The term dominance has become an over used term in the world of dogs; a word that many people truly don't understand.  It has become the default cause of many behaviors for the misinformed dog professionals and owners alike.  I clearly remember being told by a Vet Tech that Luke had dominance issues.  They had taken him back for an x-ray and when he balked at being onto his back for the procedure;  it had to be dominance.  Nonsense.

Is Luke a dominant dog? Yes and no, he is more a pushy, confident guy.  Confidence and dominance are two entirely different states of being.  He has always liked to push when given the chance but is easily deflated.  Luke is a very nervous dog, not skittish and afraid of his shadow but more an over thinker, stress monkey type.  He worries and when strangers try to turn him over for no obvious reason (that he can conclude) he worries and struggles.  If a canine professional thinks that they should be able to easily flip any  dog onto their back, they are sadly under educated in regards to canines and canine behavior.

People blame barking at windows and doors on dominance.  More than likely it is a guarding instinct kicking in and if it is prolonged then probably a behavior that the owner just never stopped.  Not dominance.  Even aggression cannot be blamed on dominance.  More often aggression is related to fear rather than dominance.  A fearful dog is far more likely to bite than a dominant one.  Fear is a huge driving force to react; it is often misguided and inappropriately placed.  Which can lead an owner grasping for the dominance card.   It is the "in" word so we tend to fall back on what we hear around town.

When dog's don't listen to their owners; they must be dominant (not).  Many dog trainers use dominance as the go to explanation.  Sad.  Dogs are far more complicated and intelligent to toss all of their behaviors that we cannot figure out into the dominance bucket.  Sure there are dominant dogs and there some have dominance issues but very few really.  Many dogs simply have a lack of guidance in their life which leaves them to figure it all out themselves.  They are after all dogs, not furry humans so when they figure something out on their own it is not the way we would figure it out.

Dominance is not the reason that your dog is pulling on your daily walk.  It is not the reason that your dog ate your drapes or pulled up your beautiful new sprinkler system in the backyard.  Nor it is the reason that your dog growls at anyone who even thinks of walking near their food bowl.  No, there are lots of other reasons for undesired behaviors.  Even dogs who never gave dominance a second thought can seem dominant given a lack of leadership from their owner.

My girl Jessie (JRT or Jack Russell Terror) was a dominant dog.  She was naturally dominant and showed her stuff from the moment she walked into our home and took over the top dog status from Clyde.  She ruled the dogs in our house for nearly 16 years and I have to say that she was very good at it.  Of course I am the real boss around here and she knew that as well.  She was not an obnoxious canine leader of the pack; I would not allow that.  More on dominance and what to do with it in another blog.  For now, throw dominance out the window and try to figure out what is going on with your dog.  Our dogs are not secreting plotting to take over our world, so let's move on from this whole dominant phase.

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