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  • Con Slobodchikoff, Ph.D.
    Slobodchikoff is President and CEO of Animal Communications, Ltd., specializing in pet behavior problems and in educating people about the behavior of animals.

« The Dog Bark Controversy | Main | Get Your Signals Straight In Obedience Training »

July 07, 2010


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Dog Park Equipment by TerraBound Solutions

This is a really great article. To put in the simplest way, our dog is a very dominant male--despite training he tries to walk in front on walks. At the dog park dogs will challenge him a lot as well even if he is minding his own business and we think it is because they are challenging him as alpha male. He has established himself as alpha male amongst our families dogs.

Heather of TerraBound


A lot of so-called dog "experts" have claimed a connection with dominance and doors, but I have never agreed with that assessment.

The thing is, some dogs are curious and excitable by nature. If a dog is going outside for a walk, and they absolutely LOVE going outside for a walk, they will naturally bolt out the moment the door is open. I don't think it has anything at all to do with who is the boss here, it is a simple focus issue. They are very focused on the action at the moment.

It is the same issue with dogs who pull on their leashes. It's all about the moment, not the hierarchy. I've rolled my eyes each and every time I've ever heard or read that owners should never let their dogs out ahead of them. That should strictly be a safety issue only.

Thanks so much for the article! It was very interesting. :)

Gaby Dufresne-Cyr

I always explain dominance by stating "The dominant dog is the one how want the object of attention more than his counterpart, but only at that particular moment. Period. Because dogs live in the eternal now, that moment keeps on changing; therefore, so does dominance." It is a simplistic explanation, but it works. I'm glad to see some people are sharing the right information ;-) Bravo!

You might also want to read these two studies...

Cathy Hughes

The only reason I ever thought a dog would go out a door ahead of me was because they are faster and had somewhere to go! There are reasons to teach a dog to wait at the door however.One obvious reason is safety! Another one is encouraging the dog to display calm behaviors at a potentially stress filled time.

A simple example of how dominance is not a linear occurrence is in multi-dog households. For instance,my BC Merit is the undisputed queen of the kitchen, but her sister Zen rules the back yard and all things in it. Very interesting to see how the roles change according to where they are at the time and if I am present or not. When I am present, all halos are firmly in place and it is time to see what interesting activity is about to take place!
I could spend all day watching dogs interact!


Great post. I shall bring this one up at the dog park tomorrow and see what people have to say. I used to follow the thru-the-door-first theory and similar theories but no longer and it hasn't caused any change whatsoever with my dog.

My Rhodesian Ridgeback can be quite stubborn and can come off as an alpha (I was even told this by a vet) and yet when he's in the dog park, he follows the other dogs around (no matter the size) in the hopes they'll play with him. I agree the behaviour depends upon the situation.

And speaking of dominance and leadership, maybe one day you can do a post on humping. I think we'd all like to know what it means because I'm sure it's also not as straight forward as dominance.

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