How to Assert Dominance Over a Dog: The Positive Way

Did you ever hear the phrase “You have to show your dog who’s boss”? Many people think that being dominant over a dog is the best way to train them. However, recent research tells us there’s a better way! In this blog, we’ll show you how to assert dominance over your dog using positive methods, while building trust and a strong bond.

Why the Old-School “Pack Leader” Approach Doesn’t Work

For years, people believed that dogs needed a “pack leader” to follow. This idea came from observing wild wolves and how they behave. But our furry friends aren’t wild wolves – they’ve evolved to live with humans! So, treating them like wild animals just doesn’t make sense. In fact, it can cause more harm than good.

Problems with Dominance-Based Training

When people use dominance-based training, they often try to be the “alpha dog.” This can involve harsh punishments, like yelling, hitting, or using choke collars. These methods might seem to work at first, but they can lead to fear, aggression, and a damaged relationship with your dog.

Positive Reinforcement: The Key to Building Trust

Instead of trying to dominate your dog, it’s better to use positive reinforcement. This means rewarding them for good behavior instead of punishing them for bad behavior. Dogs are more likely to repeat actions that make them feel good, so this approach works wonders!

Examples of Positive Reinforcement Techniques

  1. Praise and petting: When your dog follows a command, give them lots of praise and affection.
  2. Treats: Use small, tasty treats as rewards for good behavior.
  3. Clicker training: Use a clicker to mark the exact moment your dog does something right, then give them a treat.

Consistency and Boundaries: The Foundation of Good Dog Training

Being consistent is super important when training your dog. They need to know what’s expected of them, so make sure you always follow the same rules. This way, they’ll learn faster and be less confused.

Setting Boundaries and Rules

To establish boundaries, decide on some basic rules for your dog, like not jumping on people or staying off the furniture. Be consistent in enforcing these rules, and make sure everyone in your household follows them too.

Building Trust and Communication with Your Dog

One of the most important aspects of dog training is building trust. Your dog needs to feel safe and secure with you, so they can learn and grow. A strong bond with your dog makes training much more enjoyable and effective.

Ways to Improve Communication

Here are some tips to help you communicate better with your dog:

  • Use clear, simple commands: Stick to one or two-word commands like “sit” or “stay.”
  • Be consistent: Always use the same words and tone of voice for each command.
  • Pay attention to your dog’s body language: Dogs often communicate through body language, so learn to read their signals and respond accordingly.

Activities to Strengthen Your Bond

Engage in activities that you both enjoy to strengthen your bond. These can include:

  • Playing fetch or tug-of-war
  • Taking long walks or hikes
  • Enrolling in a dog sport like agility or obedience

Why Punishment-Based Training Techniques Don’t Work

Although some people still use punishment-based training techniques, they often do more harm than good. Here’s why:

  • Punishment can cause fear and anxiety: Dogs may become scared of you or other things associated with the punishment.
  • It can lead to aggression: Dogs that are punished may become more aggressive as a way to defend themselves.
  • It damages the dog-owner relationship: Trust is crucial, and punishment can erode that trust.

Alternative Methods for a Healthy Relationship with Your Dog

There are other ways to establish a strong connection with your dog without resorting to dominance-based methods:

Reward-Based Training

Focus on rewarding your dog for good behavior instead of punishing them for unwanted actions. This will help them understand what you want and motivate them to do it.

Play and Exercise

Regular play and exercise can help channel your dog’s energy and strengthen your bond. Choose activities that both you and your dog enjoy.

Mental Stimulation

Dogs need mental challenges to stay happy and healthy. Provide them with puzzle toys, interactive games, or training exercises to keep their minds sharp.


In conclusion, asserting dominance over your dog doesn’t have to involve harsh methods. By using positive reinforcement, setting boundaries, and focusing on building trust, you can create a strong, healthy relationship with your canine companion. Give these methods a try, and watch your dog flourish.


Can I still be my dog’s “leader” without using dominance-based methods?

Yes! By using positive reinforcement, setting boundaries, and building trust, you can establish yourself as a respected leader without relying on dominance.

How long does it take to see results with positive reinforcement training?

Results can vary, but many dogs start to show improvements within a few weeks. Consistency and patience are key to success.

What if my dog is already aggressive due to past dominance-based training?

If your dog has developed aggression, it’s important to consult with a professional dog trainer or behaviorist who specializes in positive reinforcement methods.

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