12 Signs The Family Dog Might Actually Be the One in Charge

By molly atherton 4 months ago

1. The dog ignores commands from family members.

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Does the family pooch do as they please, regardless of commands from their humans? If you call their name or shout at them and they carry on doing exactly what they were before, then it sounds like you've got yourself a dog boss. If dogs don't feel as though they need to answer to their humans, it's because they think they're above them in the pecking order!Original content sourced from Femanin.com

2. They sleep on the best spot of the couch or bed, claiming it as its own.

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It goes without saying that the best spot in the house should belong to the master of the house. Whether that's the comfiest spot on the sofa, or pride of place on the bed, if the dog snatches these spots as their own, then they're definitely in charge. The dog is showing that they feel entitled to claim pride of place and that they're leader of the pack.

3. The family members arrange their schedules around the dog's needs.

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Are there constantly conversations within the household which consist of making plans that fit in with the dogs schedule? Maybe somebody volunteers to miss out on the family's social plans so that they can stay home and keep the dog company? Or, does arranging the family holiday revolve solely on plans for the dog's care? Once schedules and activities revolve around the dog, they've taken over!

4. The dog nudges or paws at family members for attention whenever it desires.

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When the dog starts demanding attention, chances are they're a little spoiled! They might try and do this by pawing or nudging the humans with their nose. When the family give in to these demands, they get more frequent and even more impatient. This is because they feel entitled to attention whenever they want it. Why wouldn't they? They're the boss.

5. They bark or whine until someone fulfils their request.

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Is the dog extremely persistent when it comes to getting what they want? Whether this is food, a treat or to go outside, if the dog will continuously bark, cry or whine until someone does as they say, then they're definitely the boss of the house. They believe that their demands are important and expect them to be met promptly and without question!

6. The family follows the dog's preferred walking routes during walks.

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When it comes to walkies, does it feel more like the dog is walking the human rather than the other way around? If the walking route, pace and duration are dictated by the beloved pooch, then I'm afraid they've got their human wrapped around their finger (or paw, if we're being specific). Walking should be on the human's terms if they want to send the message that they're the leader.

7. It eats first before anyone else in the household.

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So, the family are all home from work on an evening. The big question as always is what's for dinner? But, before anybody even thinks about getting dinner going, they absolutely need to make sure the dog has been fed first! Sound familiar? Well, if the dog always eats before the rest of the family, the message they're receiving is that they're priority.

8. The dog takes toys or treats away from other pets or family members.

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When the dog is blatantly taking things from other pets or people in the house, it can't really get much clearer than this. The dog believes they're above everyone else and operate on a 'see it, want it, take it' policy. They don't need permission; they just simply take whatever they please and nobody is going to stop them! After all, they're in charge!

9. Family members avoid certain areas of the house to not disturb the dog's resting spot.

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If members of the family are being restricted in their own home because of the family dog, then it's time to revisit the pecking order! These humans need to lay down some boundaries - and they need to do it fast. If the people are avoiding certain rooms or spots in the house, for the sole reason that the dog has taken over these areas, then this most definitely puts the pooch on a pedestal.

10. They refuse to move from a certain spot, and family members work around it.

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Likewise, if the dog is just point blank refusing to move from their beloved spot or area, then they think they're above their humans. They've claimed their territory, it belongs to them and there's no way that anybody else is gonna push them around or tell them what to do. So, if you know a dog who grows extremely stubborn when it's time for them to move, you know what's up.

11. The dog initiates playtime, deciding when playtime starts.

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Many dogs are naturally playful at heart, and whilst it's normal for them to invite their humans to play from time to time, they shouldn't always be dictating when playtime begins. If the humans have no say in the matter, and they have no choice but to be dragged into playing with the dog once it decides, then they've definitely lost all their power.

12. Family members adjust the temperature inside the house based on the dog's comfort.

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As soon as the dog pants slightly, the windows are open or the air-con is switched on. The dog is fresh from the groomers, and their hair is shorter than usual - that means the central heating is amped up straight away. When the temperature in the house is totally based on the dogs comfort, regardless of how the humans feel, then they're practically royal.

13. They steal food from family members' plates or hands.

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When the family dog is just taking it upon themselves to snatch food as and when they feel like it, then they're definitely portraying boss behavior. This applies whether this is jumping up and taking food from the kitchen worktop, off family member plates, or worse - straight out of their hands! Nobody wants their food taken from their hands, it's time for the humans to put their foot down.

14. The dog demands attention by barking, scratching doors, or being disruptive.

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If the dog is acting up in whatever way they can in order to get attention, then this could also be a sign that they believe they're in charge of the household. Attention seeking behavior could be things such as barking, scratching at doors or jumping up at guests. Sometimes, the dog may just generally do their best to disrupt the conversation or situation.

15. Family members give up their spots on the couch or bed when the dog wants to sit or lie down there.

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Do you know somebody who is guilty of this? When family members are going out of their way to make sure the dog is comfortable, even at the expense of themselves, then it's only sending one message to the dog - they're above the humans in the hierarchy. If people are getting up from their seat or spot, for the sole reason that the dog wants to sit there, they need to stop.

16. They herd family members or other pets around the house.

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Some dogs are herders by nature, usually it's in their breed. But, they shouldn't be doing the herding at home with family members or other pets! Sometimes, it's not clear when a dog is doing this. Some signs to look out for are physically moving people or pets with their body, staring at them until they move, or nipping at them. Some training is needed if this is happening!

17. The dog pushes past family members to be the first through doorways.

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Now, depending on the breed, this can be a dangerous one! When you've got a Great Dane who thinks they're the boss, they might start to charge and push past family members, likely knocking them over on their way. This is especially dangerous when they start pushing past their humans on the stairs. So, this dominant behavior needs addressing straight away.

18. They bring toys or items to family members, demanding interaction.

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This is a tough one, because it seems so sweet. But, did you know that when dogs bring you a toy or other items, it's because they are attention seeking? I know, it's nice to think that they're just bringing you a gift! But, the truth is, this is actually a dog's way of initiating contact with you, whilst demanding you give them your undivided attention.

19. The family schedules regular grooming sessions to keep the dog content.

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Do you know a dog that is always pampered, clean and looking pristine? Does the dog even look more well groomed than their human owners at times? Well, if you can think of a case like this, we're dealing with one spoiled pooch. When a family schedules frequent grooming sessions, the dog can believe that they're on a pedestal, above other members in their family.

20. They get anxious or upset when left alone, making the family feel guilty.

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The family are going out for the day. They take one look at their dog and feel riddled with guilt, nobody in the family wants to leave the dog on their own. Maybe to combat the guilt, they make sure to keep the lights and TV on so the dog doesn't feel as lonely. Does this sound at all familiar to you? If you've noticed this behavior, then the dog in question rules the roost.

21. The dog sits or lies down in high-traffic areas, causing family members to walk around it.

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There are certain parts of a family household that are usually very high traffic. For example, the spot outside the bathroom, or the kitchen. If the dog is choosing these spots so they can purposely lie in the midst of the hustle and bustle, then they're definitely making themselves known. Dogs do this to put themselves in the centre of attention, which is where they believe they belong!

22. They nudge or paw at family members to demand treats or food.

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When the dog is hungry, or even when they just feel like having a tasty treat, they will not hesitate to let their humans know this! These kinds of dogs are alpha pets, demanding they are fed exactly to a schedule that suits them. And, they expect it to happen fast! When it doesn't, dogs who believe they're in charge will continue to paw or nudge their humans.

23. The dog exhibits "zoomies" or bursts of energy to get family members involved in play.

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Anybody who has a dog will know exactly what I'm talking about here - the zoomies. This is where dogs have a huge burst of energy, which they'll show by frantically running or jumping around, usually back and forth or in circles. This hyper behavior is normal from time to time, but if it becomes excessive, then we might be dealing with a behavioral problem!

24. They choose where family members sit or stand.

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Now, if a dog is deciding where and when their humans will sit or stand, then we've got a serious case on our hands. Dogs that do this are exhibiting behavior that stems from guarding, herding and possessing their family. None of these are good signs as the dog wholeheartedly believes it's up to them what their family should be doing. In some cases, this can even be dangerous if aggression is involved.

25. The dog growls or shows aggression when they wants something and doesn't get their way.

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When a dog turns to growling, barring their teeth, or showing any other signs of aggression in the face of conflict, then they definitely could use some training. Some examples of this are when they are moved from their position, when their toys are taken off them or when they're not fed when they choose. The dog should know that their humans are in charge, and it's up to them when these things happen.

26. Family members allow the dog to interrupt conversations or activities regularly.

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If a dog frequently barks, cries, or is generally disruptive when their family members are trying to have a conversation, usually, their objective is to turn the human's attention back onto themselves. They want them to stop whatever it is they're doing, and switch their focus solely on their beloved pet. The best thing to do here is to carry on the conversation, ignoring the dog until the person is ready to interact with them.

27. The dog has free access to all areas of the house, while family members may have restricted areas.

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Are there some areas of the house where certain family members are not allowed to go? For example, sibling's or parent's bedrooms, separate living rooms, or down in the basement. If this is true, but the dog on the other hand has complete free reign of the entire house, with no restrictions at all imposed onto them, then they have more privilege than the humans do!

28. They dictate the pace and duration of playtime.

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Much like walking and exercise, playtime should be happening on the human family member's terms. If this idea is flipped, with the dog deciding when playtime begins with no control from the human's end, then they're most definitely in charge. Even worse, if the dog is completely in control of the pace and duration of playtime, then something needs to happen fast!

29. Family members clean up accidents or messes the dog makes without holding it accountable.

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Now, this one is a big one which should be addressed right away. If the dog is going to the toilet wherever it pleases with no consequence, then of course it will carry on doing this! When the family members are simply cleaning up after their dog each time, without disciplining their pooch, then the message is that the dog is free to continue as they please.

30. The dog has a designated chair or spot at the table during mealtime.

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Whilst I can't argue that this idea is kind of adorable, it is still sending signals to the dog that they are leader of the pack. When the dog is given a designated spot at the dining room table, then the family is really putting them on a pedestal. Even worse if nobody else is allowed to sit in this spot, leaving it reserved for the dog at all times.

31. How to be the boss!

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If you have a very dominant dog who thinks they're in charge, then it's definitely behavior that shouldn't continue - and there are many things you can do to deal with a dominant pup so that you can reclaim your title and let your dog know who's really the boss in this house!

32. Does age matter?

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Dealing with a dominant dog and teaching new tactics can be done at any age (though obviously it's more ideal if you train them from a pup). But if you have an older rescue dog or an adult dog that's displaying signs of dominant behavior, it's still possible to train them.

33. You might want to try an obedience class

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It might be that you feel like you're not equipped to train your dog and you need tailored help for how they're behavior. Obedience classes are available for your to take your dog and have a professional help you. The benefit of the class is that it's as much about you learning as it is the dog!

34. Praise is better than punishment

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When dealing with a dominant and disobedient dog, a lot of owners think punishment makes sense for discipline, such as shouting at the dog when it's naughty, withholding treats or anything else to try and let them know they've done wrong. But focusing on praising their good deeds is better than punishing their bad, as they will learn positive reinforcement.

35. Treats are your best friend

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With this in mind, don't be thinking that you shouldn't be giving your dog any treats because it's being dominant and naughty! You shouldn't give them treats when they act like they're in charge, but you should reward them when they respond to your coaxing them to be less dominant, or when they make a positive step in the right direction.

36. You need to be consistent and patient

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It can take some time to change your dog's behavior, but every little step is going to help. This means you absolutely have to be consistent - even if you have 6 days a week ignoring your dog when he whines for food off your plate and then have 1 day where you slip up and just give them some scraps, this is only telling your dog they'll get something if they whine!

37. Try not to say 'no'

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We know it's very difficult, because the logical choice when trying to teach a dominant dog better is to say 'no' when he's doing something disobedient. But it's all about using different commands and more positive reinforcement. Instead of always saying no, use specific commands like 'stay' or 'come'.

38. You'll have to stop coddling them

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We know it's difficult because they're so darn cute, but if you have a pampered pooch that walks all over you, sleeps in your bed, eats all your food and is treated like royalty, they're obviously going to be smug about it. You need to set some clear boundaries and not always let them do what they want to do.

39. Being assertive means calm, not anger

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It can be frustrating for a dog owner dealing with an alpha dog, but one of the best things you can do is be calm but firm, rather than raising your voice or being chaotic with your energy because you're impatient with them. They'll respond better to your leadership when you're calm and assertive.

40. Set rules about their movement

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With alpha dogs that rule the roost, they may literally roam all over the roost, doing as they please. Setting up boundaries about where they can and can't go, and when, can really help. For instance, train your dog never to go through the door before you after a walk, and to wait for your say so. An alpha dog will likely run in first or overtake you.

41. And use food as a reason for them to calm down

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A dominant dog is very likely to let this show most at meal times. They might bark or whine until you get up to prepare their food, and they might also jump up or lunge forward to feast on the bowl before you've even put it down! This is another key training opportunity to show them who's in charge - make sure never to give them their food until they sit and calm down.

42. Don't go to them - make them come to you

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It may sound like you're playing hard to get, but that's exactly what you need to do with an alpha dog! You want to cuddle your pooch and get affection from them as much as possible, of course, but an alpha dog will likely make you work for it. Instead, ignore them if they're being aloof and then let them come to you every time they want attention. In time, they'll recognize you as the 'leader' because they have to come to you for cuddles!

43. Always eat before your dog

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This can be difficult for some dog owners because depending on your routine, you might feed your dog at a different time to you. But in general, the 'leader of the pack' will always eat first - so if you feed your dog before anyone else, they're going to think they're in charge. Instead, eat your own meal first so your dog can see they have to wait until you've finished to get their food.

44. Give your dog an important task!

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Dominant dogs are very pent up in that they need to be doing something - so if you want your dog to stop ruling the house, and to find another way to channel that energy, give them something to do. It might sound random, but if you have a breed like a gun dog that was originally meant for searching and retrieving, you can do the same when out on walks with toys. Similarly, you could teach your dog to do something on walks or around the house, like have them carry a doggy backpack for hikes or bring you the post at home!

45. Don't forget about verbal praise

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Positive reinforcement is key, but you shouldn't completely depend on treats - especially if they need to watch their weight! Verbal praise can be used in place of treats when they do something good - be sure to use a positive voice, positive words and use belly pats or rubs to show them they've done good.

46. Make sure everyone in the household is doing the same thing

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Even if there's one person in a couple or family that the dog sees as the 'leader', everyone in the household needs to be on the same page. You can't be trying for discipline training while someone else in the house is letting the dog do what it wants when you're not there!

47. That includes visitors, too!

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This one can be really difficult, but you can explain to people who come round (family, friends or even people in passing like household services) that you're training your dog and to please behave in a certain way when they're in your home (for example, not giving your dog attention if it does something negative).

48. Make sure your dog has enough stimulation

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Your dog might be displaying dominant or negative traits because they have pent up energy, and this might be because they're not getting as much mental or physical stimulation they need. Try to take them on more walks or get more stimulating toys for them at home.

49. Start at the right time

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As we mentioned, consistency is key, so if you're starting this new training routine 2 days before you go on a long vacation, it's not going to work. Choose a block of time you can dedicate to focusing on your dog's routine. If it's really bad, you might even want to book time off work so you have more time to ease your dog into a new training routine.

50. Routine is key

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The same daily routine is the best thing you can do for your dog overall, so you might want to re-assess your waking/sleeping times, or the time they go on a walk. If you're usually a bit hectic with it, your dog might become more frustrated or confused, and more likely to exhibit behavior you don't want!