Early Signs of Dominance in Puppies

Dogs that believe they have dominance over their human owners can become unruly, disobedient and even aggressive. Very young pups can often show what seem to be signs of dominance from as young as 9 weeks; after they have been taken to their new home. They have been separated from their siblings and mother and need to refind their place in the pack.

Puppies will naturally slot in at the bottom of the pack but if they sense you are weak they might try to take advantage and move up the pack order.

Puppy Tantrums

Puppies are much like children and as their emotions develop they can have tantrums. This can be seen as dominance as the puppy refuses to do as he’s told, bares his teeth and tries to bite you. This is exactly the same as when children are told they can’t get their own way so they start screaming and lashing out. This is not dominance; it’s just growing up and learning boundaries and how to deal with them.

Tantrums are easily solved by never giving in to a puppy in a tantrum; simply remove the pup as soon as the tantrum starts and take him to a ‘time out’ place. This should be an isolated place where the puppy can’t take out his frustrations on others. A puppy crate is ideal or simply being shut in another room. Give the puppy 15 mins to calm down then let him out again. If the puppy has another tantrum just repeat the isolation until he learns that tantrums are not the way to get what you want.

If you give in to the aggressive actions of a puppy tantrum then you are showing the pup that if he gets snappy and shows his teeth then he will get what he wants. This could be disastrous in the future when he has grown up as he could become a very dangerous dog.

Refusing to Co-operate

Young puppies are eager to do as they are told and they love to learn new commands. As they grow young dogs start to develop stronger willpower and may start to test you to see what you do if they don’t do as they’re told. This will often be seen as a puppy that knows a command well that suddenly stops doing it and just stares at you instead. This can be frustrating for you but the key is to expect this to happen and not lose your temper when it does.

Be calm and repeat the command until the puppy does it. This can take a long time but don’t give in. If you do give in you are showing the pup that you don’t have as much willpower as he does and this gives him a sense of higher dominance over you. If you win and the puppy completes the command then you have shown him you mean it when you tell the pup to do something.

All puppies go through these stages and how strong they depend on the breed and how you respond. Early signs of dominance are much easier to deal with than an older aggressive dog so be ready for when your pup flexes his independence.

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