The Dominant Dog – Dealing with Dominance in Dogs

What is a dominant dog?

Some people attribute all problem behaviors to “dominance“, while others do not want to use the “dominant dog” label at all. The truth, as always, is somewhere in-between.

It is useful to recognize dominant behaviors in our dog, so that we can better manage him, keep him safe, and set him up for success. Refusing to use the word dominance, or denying its existence in dogs, is unhelpful.

Any pack animal including humans and dogs, have to deal with dominance issues, because it is part of pack dynamics.

Similarly, trying to explain everything away by using the dominant dog label or excuse, is also unhelpful. To really fix a problem behavior, we want to fully understand it, and correctly identify its source. For example, a dog may show aggression because of dominance. However, dog aggression can also be the result of fear, stress, play, curiosity, boredom, or something else.

Dog Dominance

Dominance is a fluid concept.

Dogs are not dominant all of the time.

For example, many dogs will show greater dominance when they are on home turf, or when their owners are around. Under different circumstances, these same dogs may become less assertive, or may even become submissive.

Observe our dog carefully, and identify when he is more likely to show dominance, and why.

Dominance is a relative concept.

My Shiba Inu, for example, is more dominant than most dogs I have owned. He challenges me more frequently, and is constantly testing his boundaries. He has a dominant body posture, and he will not back down when challenged by other dogs.

My Siberian Husky, is a more submissive dog. She usually stops whatever she is doing, when I tell her to. She very quickly backs down, and uses submissive body language, when confronted by other dogs.

However, this does not mean that my Husky will always back down, or never show any dominance behavior. She simply prefers to avoid conflict, and has learned that she usually gets more, by seeking a peaceful resolution. I make sure to encourage this behavior, by rewarding calmness and conflict avoidance very well.

What is a Dominant Dog?

  1. A dominant dog will likely respond with aggression when he is frustrated, or when he feels threatened. He may also redirect that aggression onto us, if we try to physically engage him.
  2. A dominant dog is more forceful when it comes to fulfilling his own needs and goals. He is not afraid to challenge those around him, and to continually test his boundaries. My Shiba Inu is always testing to see if particular rules, such as the no getting on furniture rule, still hold true.
  3. A dominant dog is more likely to fight, and less likely to submit or run away. My Shiba Inu likes playing with other dogs, but he generally does not get along with dogs who try to dominate him. If challenged, he will not back down, and this can result in a dog fight.

Dealing with a Dominant Dog

1. Calm and decisive pack leader

Being angry and shouting at our dog, will only worsen his behavior. Fear and uncertainty will increase his level of stress, and cause him to behave in a more erratic fashion.

The best way to deal with a dominant dog is to remain calm, and firmly remove him from the environment or object, that is causing him to act out.

2. Avoid physical corrections

Contrary to common belief, physical force or physical corrections is NOT a good way to deal with dominant dogs. If not perfectly executed (with perfect timing, force, and technique), a physical correction may further frustrate our dog, and cause him to get more aggressive.

Instead, stay calm, keep physical interactions to a minimum, and quickly leave the stressful situation. In addition, using physical force against a dog, may end up teaching him the wrong lesson; in particular, use violence against violence.

True alpha dogs lead by controlling the pack’s resources. We can control our dog’s resources by following the NILIF (Nothing in Life is Free) program, and using reward obedience training.

3. Management and supervision

We want to step in and stop any aggressive behaviors, before our dog escalates and loses control. Prevention is key when dealing with a dominant dog. It stops him from practicing aggressive behaviors, and it enforces the important lesson that we are calm and in charge.

4. Consistent rules

To become a good pack leader, it is important to develop a set of house rules and some structure, for our dog to follow. Always be consistent with enforcing all of those rules.

My Shiba Inu’s most important house rules include –

5. Frequent obedience training sessions

Schedule at least two or more short (10 – 15 minutes) obedience training sessions with our dog, every day. It is a good idea to keep up with obedience exercises, throughout a dog’s life. This keeps him mentally sharp, and makes it clear that we are in charge.

6. Use proper equipment to control our dog

When dealing with aggression, safety should always be a primary concern.

Use whatever equipment is necessary, to keep all the people around our dominant dog safe. A drag lead may also be useful because it gives us good control of our dog, without having to lay hands on him or his collar, and without resorting to chasing games.

If our dog has a bite history, it may be necessary to use a muzzle. I like the basket muzzle because it does not overly constrain a dog’s mouth, and is more comfortable. A basket muzzle will still allow a dog to eat and pant.

Be careful not to aggravate our dog’s aggressive behavior by overly constraining him, and causing barrier frustration. When in doubt, consult a professional trainer.

7. Set our dog up for success

Try to minimize the number of dominant displays. Identify objects (e.g. other dogs, cats) and environmental conditions (e.g. loud noise) that trigger dominant behaviors, and avoid those triggers.

Then, gradually desensitize our dog to those events, in a controlled fashion.

Many dog behavioral issues, including resource guarding, biting people, dog-to-dog aggression, sensitivity to handling, growling at humans, and general disobedience, are often attributed to “the dominant dog”.

However, each of these problems are unique, and complex. They are usually the result of many factors, one of which may be dominance. In fact, many behavioral issues are the result of stress and fear, and have nothing whatsoever to do with dominance.

When dealing with dog behavioral issues, it is best to keep an open mind.

Observe our dog and his environment carefully. Identify the triggers for his aggressive behavior, and try to understand why he is responding in this way. If his aggression is extreme (e.g. he is breaking skin, and/or causing puncture wounds), hire a professional trainer to help us carefully trouble-shoot the problems.

Related Articles


  1. Taylor says

    Hi. I have 2 dogs. Copper who is a small breed dog who is about a year and a half old I’ve had him since he was 8 months old. In June I got another dog who was about 4 weeks old when I got him. His name is Zeus. At first Zeus and copper were getting along great. Now that Zeus has gotten bigger, I’d say he’s about 3 or 4 months old now, he has been showing aggression towards copper. Last night they were fighting and I had to separate them more than once. I don’t know what else to do. Please help.

  2. Anonymous says

    We have a black show cocker spaniel who is nearly two. We have had him since he was 8 weeks old, he was very easy to train and loves mental games still. In the past 6 months he has lashed out 4 times, where he snaps and growls whilst leaping up and his body is completely rigid.
    This only lasts a few seconds, then he is back to licking and wagging his tail. Each occasion has been different and the last three times I cannot find a trigger. For example, the previous time this happened was when I was on the sofa with friends, he had been smothered with attention and was very happy. He came to lay by my feet and as I went to touch him, he snapped. He had been fine two minutes beforehand. The time before that was a similar situation.
    It’s hard to know how to deal with this as I’m unsure why he is doing this?

    • Parker G says

      It sounds like he might be highly stressed in situations at home with lots of loud noises and hand movements to get him in an excited state. Be sure to not encourage this stressed behavior by giving physical affection as it might cause an involuntary defensive response.

    • Patricia Muir Henderson says

      You need to google Rage syndrome. And idiopathic agression response in dogs (your highly bred Black Cocker is a key breed in this problem). It’s not a condition to take lightly.

  3. Laura says

    I’m hoping you can help me with a related issue… dominance between my dogs:

    I have three male dogs in my house (all neutered). Two of them (Brewster and Hudson) are brothers, both 9 years old, golden retriever – Australian shepherds, who have lived together most of their lives. Brewster has always displayed dominance over Hudson, and Hudson doesn’t mind.

    Then we got a golden retriever – great pyrenees puppy, Parker, about a year ago. Both of the older dogs quickly put Parker in his place… But in the last week Parker (who is about a year and a half old, and a few inches taller than the other two) has started picking a lot more fights with the other two (not aggression… just a clear change in their play behaviour, Parker won’t let the older dogs knock him prone anymore, and he has just started to mount the older dogs)… it looks to me like Parker is trying to challenge his social ranking and become the dominant dog.

    I’m not worried that they are going to hurt each other (or me), all three dogs get along quite well. But I am wondering how the puppy’s behaviour might affect the older dogs, particularly Brewster who has always enjoyed being the top dog. Especially since Brewster is starting to slow down in his old age… will losing his ‘top dog’ status stress him out too much?

    So, to sum up, I’m wondering: It is okay for the puppy to change up the social order? Or should I break up these little ‘fights’ to try and help my older dogs stay on top?

    Any advise would be greatly appreciated!

  4. Gina says

    Great blog. I am desperate now. I have 6 dogs total. 3 males, 3 females. 3 males are GSD, and 2 littermates that are malamute’gsd mix. Mon my one of my mal mixes, Atasi attacked Loki my GSD when Loki tried to correct him. Atasi doesn’t want to be under Loki, and this last fight was very damaging to Loki. He has a drain, stitches and an ulcer on his eye. They have gotten into fights before but not like this. The trigger is me. They all want my attention. This happened when I was playing with Loki. What can I do ? It’s not the first time Atasi has lashed out.

  5. Cheryl says

    I am desperate! I have a 6 yr old corgi female (Lexi) and a 2 yr old rescue female pup that we think is a Jack Russell/Whippet (Shay). Shay displayed dominant behavior towards Lexi at an early age. In puppy training classes however, she was always intimidated by other puppies, often hiding under the chairs, etc. We continued with socialization hoping it would help her overcome her shy behavior but now 2 years later, she still exhibits this and often displays her insecurity around other dogs by growling and barking aggressively.

    Our biggest issue continues to be with Lexi. Out of nowhere, Shay will attack Lexi and they will fight until we as a family break them up. Neither will back down and I feel we are watching a professional dog fight until the death. All family members have been bit trying to break up the fights and recently it has become so vicious that Lexi has been rushed to the vet for stitches in her neck. We cannot find what triggers these attacks, they are so random and they can go 6 months at a time without any issue. Recently, the attacks have become more frequent with 3 fights in the last 5 days. Today, Lexi was so battered that she had additional stitches and is completely traumatized. Let me also say our attempts to break them up include, air horns, cans of pennies, water, throwing towels over them to try to grab them apart, hitting with brooms, etc. We are afraid that the corgi will be killed at the rate this is going and let me say, there are times, when the corgi will start the fight especially if a drop of food accidently drops on the ground. Outside of this, the two of them play nicely, lick each other with affection, lay on the beds with each other –all without incident. We love both but don’t know what to do any longer. We have met with a trainer today who suggested we put on a muzzle on Shay especially since Lexi is healing from her punctures and stitches. He then will introduce a shock collar and begin working with her. This concerns our whole family–the shock collar. We will begin further training but I am concerned that the trainer will not be able to provide a solution to help our family.

    Any feedback is welcome and so much appreciated!


    • shibashake says

      Dogs aggression can be the result of many things, including fear, guarding resources (food, toys, affection, area), frustration, pain, and more. This ASPCA article has more on different types of aggression.

      More on dog dominance and bad behaviors.

      This article from Sophia Yin has more on dealing with dominance aggression.

      With my dogs, management and supervision are extremely important. I set up a fixed routine, clear dog-to-dog interaction rules, and a very consistent way of communication. I supervise closely during times of interaction, so that I can redirect undesirable behaviors *before* things escalate. I put a leash on my new dog, if necessary (Only with a regular collar and only under supervision. Absolutely no aversive collars), so that I can quickly and effectively control her.

      In this way, my dogs know exactly what to expect from each other, what to expect from me, and what I expect from them in return. Management, supervision, structure, and consistency will create greater certainty, and certainty will help to reduce stress and conflicts.

      The more structured and successful experiences my dogs have, the more confidence, trust, and positive associations they form. Similarly, reactive experiences will undermine that confidence and trust, set back the rehabilitation process, and worsen their future behavior. Therefore, one of the most important things in helping my dogs get along, is to carefully manage their environment and *not* expose them to situations that will trigger a reactive/aggressive response. For example, if my dog guards food and other resources, I make sure that when my dogs are together, there are absolutely no resources around that will trigger a conflict.

      At the same time, I help them with their resource issue in a structured way, through desensitization and counter-conditioning.

      As you have described, dog fights are dangerous to everyone, are difficult to stop, and leads to more fights down the road. Therefore, prevention is best. If I cannot closely supervise, I keep my new dog separated from my other dogs. I absolutely do not leave my dogs together unsupervised, until I am totally sure that there will be no issues.

      During times of supervised interaction, I manage their environment so as to ensure success. I use management equipment such as leashes, gates, and more, to ensure that everyone (human and canine) stays safe.

      Shock collars are risky to begin with, and even more so in this type of situation where there is already frequent fighting. This article has more on shock collars and their associated risks. Even trainers who use shock collars for training *do not* recommend their use in a dog fight.

      The dog training field is not well regulated, so finding a good trainer can often be very challenging. These articles have good information on how to go about evaluating a trainer.

      Given what you describe, I would look for a trainer who understands dog behavior and desensitization training. With my dogs, I find someone who can help me identify the source of their reactive behavior. In this way, I can address the root issues, and help them be more comfortable with each other, rather than just suppressing symptoms with pain based techniques. Applying frequent shocks to my dog in the presence of another dog, will likely cause her to form more negative associations with other dogs, which is not the result that I desire.

      In the meantime, I would also keep my dogs separated unless under very close and structured supervision, in a managed environment. I.e., in a situation where I had very good control over them, and can easily and quickly prevent escalation into a fight if necessary.

  6. TP says


    I have a 11 weeks old male shiba-Kobie. I’ve been trying to socialize him as much as possible with other people, kids, and dogs. He loves people and especially kids, however, he has some problems with other dogs, especially my friend’s new labradoodle pup. I brought him over the other day and spent a night there in hope that Kobie can get along with this pup. They were doing great at first, very calm and gentle, but once we got into her house, both dogs got into a fight. I separated them several times when the play got escalated, but after the whole night, they still couldn’t get along. I knew that Kobie wanted to play, but somehow, they both couldn’t control themselves. Kobie did bit and left a scratch on the lab pup’s nose. Me? I got very frustrated! Though, when I brought Kobie to meet my other friend’s dogs, a frenchie and a pug, all three of them loved playing together.
    Kobie is a very calm, gentle, and quiet shiba. He gets freak out when he hears strange noises and barked at loud and sudden noises. The labradoodle pup is a barker, he barked at everything for no specific reasons and a bit dog territory with his space, pen, and food. Kobie is not, he seemed to be ok sharing toys and food with the pup at her house (I have not tested it out in our house yet). My friend and I decided to bring them down to a mutual ground, her backyard, where the lab had not been to yet. Then, they were playing fine. However, Kobie did not want to leave the pup alone, he kept chasing the poor baby. We are good friends so I felt very bad putting her pup through such a stressful play date.
    Kobie has been taught to be a soft mouth shiba, he does bite but never leave marks on people, but this lab pup. However, the lab pup bit and nibbled everything, including me, he left a bloody mark on my hand while I was trying to calm him down. I observed Kobie when the lab pup was locked in his exercise pen, what did he do? He was such an evil child, he played dirty by biting the lab pup through the pen!
    I brought him out once again yesterday to PetSmart for a check up. He met this 10 month old dog who kept barking at him, after 2 minutes, Kobie started being aggressive with barking and biting. However, when we walked him and met a little quiet pup, he was so nice and gentle playing with it. That pup’s owners were like “we have a neighbor who owns a shiba too, but that shiba does not socialize well with dogs, we did not expect yours to be so calm like this!” Then, I realized Kobie does not like vocal dogs! And, he gets aggressive when other dogs bite hard on him.
    Now that I’ve understood Kobie, I still want to control his aggression toward vocal dogs. Also, Kobie got the idea of barking is good when playing after the night with this labradoodle. He barked at his bff frenchie the other day while playing which he never done so before. I really want to stop that and teach him to be himself again!!! In addition, I really wish that Kobie could get along with the lab because my friend and I are very good friends. The lab is going to puppy training class soon. I was gonna enroll Kobie in one, but I just rethink about this because I feel that it’s too expensive and they only teach simple commands like “sit” “stay” “come” which Kobie has now mastered. We only have some hiccups with the “stay”, but other than that, he’s doing pretty good with the rest including “hand” “high five” “up” and “sit” for food or get out of crate.
    Could you please give me some suggestions on how to help Kobie deal with vocal dogs, loud noises, and no barking while playing? I don’t want him to grow up to be aggressive. I’ve been very strict and consistent with him, but I think that I did not do it well when I brought him over to the lab’s house. Also, should I still take him to training classes? I still take him out to meet my friends, other dogs, parks, playgrounds, shopping stores, etc. so he does have plenty of socialization. I just don’t want him to learn bad manners from other dogs.

    Thank you for your time.


    • shibashake says

      The key with socializing my Shiba Inu with other dogs is to set him up for success. The more successful experiences that Sephy has with other dogs, the more confidence & trust he gains, and the more positive associations he forms. Similarly, negative experiences will undermine that confidence & trust, significantly set back training, and increase the likelihood of more reactive behavior in the future.

      To set Sephy up for success, I do several things-
      1. I pick his playmates carefully.

      2. I set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules and I supervise very closely during play-time and others times of interaction. As soon as I notice the *start* of any anti-social behavior, I no-mark and redirect. In this way, I stop undesirable behaviors *before* they escalate into anything more serious. Prevention is best.

      3. I manage my dogs’ excitement level by using play breaks. I tend to err on the safe side and throw in many play-breaks so that nobody gets over-excited and nobody gets overwhelmed. If a dog looks like he is getting overwhelmed, I stop play right away. I want to ensure that everyone follows my rules, everyone practices good play manners, and everyone has a positive, or at worst, neutral experience. More on what I do during play-time.

      4. I manage Sephy’s play environment carefully. Sephy does best in structured and smaller playgroups. Dog parks did *not* work well for him. More on our dog park experiences.

      5. I protect my dogs and do not expose them to bad greetings or situations that they are not ready for yet. Most of the time, I create neutral experiences and teach my dogs to ignore other dogs. I only do greetings in cases where I am very sure that my dog will have a positive and successful experience.
      More on the friendly dog.

      6. When Sephy was young, I also did dog-to-dog desensitization exercises to raise his reactivity threshold to other dogs. We also did SIRIUS puppy classes which focuses on puppy socialization exercises. This was very helpful, because it exposed Sephy to different puppies and different people, but all in a structured and very well managed environment. For proper socialization, it is important to find a good class, which specializes in socialization exercises, and with instructors who understand the science of dog behavior (operant conditioning, desensitization, positive socialization).
      ASPCA article on how to evaluate trainers.

      ASPCA article on puppy socialization.
      More on dog socialization.

  7. Amanda says


    I have a 9mth old rotti X (bella) and 4mth old rotti (axel). Axel is good with people, and is fine with most dogs, but when there are other puppies around and he starts playing, he goes from playing to very aggressive growling and i think dominance very quickly. He does growl when he plays, which is fine, but it always seems to escalate to a worryingly level. He doesn’t act aggressively with older dogs, and is seems okay with puppies when he meets them. When he starts growling loudly etc and I Try to remove him, it just makes it worse and he grows louder and try’s to get to the other puppy. He went to puppu school (12weeks) and the trainer said he attacked another puppy (he didn’t hurt it, but did lunge and growl and bite). I had a behaviourist come to the house and he said axel is just playing and very vocal. It’s hard to know what’s playing and if he is getting aggressive. I worry that he will get big and continue to bully and be rough with puppies, or even other dogs when he gets older.

    Any suggestions would be great


    • shibashake says

      What did the behaviorist suggest?

      With my dogs, I set up very clear dog-to-dog interaction rules, including very clear play rules. What I have noticed with my Shiba Inu is that play starts getting rough when he becomes over-excited. Therefore, I always supervise closely during play-time and I manage my dogs’ excitement level by throwing in many play-breaks (i.e. redirecting their attention back onto me). The key is to interrupt early, *before* my dog becomes too reactive and can no longer listen to me.

      My dogs love to wrestle, play rough, and one of my Sibes is very vocal. This is all fine. However, it is also important to set up structure, consistent rules, and teach good play manners. Supervision and management are key. I redirect any anti-social behavior as soon as it starts (before it escalates) and set my dogs up for success. I also choose my dog’s playmates very carefully. When in doubt, I err on the side of caution and throw in a play-break. Removing my dog too late can lead to frustration and redirected aggression.
      More on what I do during play-time.

      I also did dog-to-dog desensitization exercises with my Shiba Inu to raise his reactivity threshold.

      When my pups were young, we did SIRIUS puppy classes. These puppy classes specifically focused on positive play and socialization, so they were really great.
      ASPCA article on puppy socialization.
      More on dog socialization.

      I find that a big part of training with my dogs involves reading their body language as well as timing my interrupts and redirects properly. These were things that a good professional trainer/behaviorist helped me with. However, the dog training field is not well regulated. We went through a bunch of so-so and not very good trainers, before I learned enough to pick out the good ones, who had both the theoretical training as well as practical experience.
      How I picked my dog’s trainer.

  8. Sandra says

    I have a 3 yr old mixed dog called Mika; staffy, rottweiler, lab and dog de bordeux. We got her as a puppy to keep our pointer company. Unfortunately, he died 3 months after being diagnosed with cancer when Mika was 2. When she came into season, our vet told us not to worry about keeping them seperate as he was on very strong chemo. Some how, his will to leave a legacy was strong and managed to get her pregnant. 6 months on, after having kept 2 of her puppies, she has developed a protective nature when meeting a new dog. She forces it to submit. No biting. We have been very suprised as she was very docile before. There are no triggers. We have a lot of dogs that we walk with and she is used to large groups of dogs playing around her. When she attacks, the other dog is not really doing anything, no aggression or even paying attention. She is normally off the lead when we’re in the park. Once she has a reaction, I pull her away and make her heel. Another thing I should mention is that she is extremely ball orientated. We’ve all been trying to notice a patternbut can not find one. I’m not really sure what I should do and would greatly appreciate any advice you could offer. Thank you!

    • shibashake says

      What do you mean by attack? Does she charge and push the other dog down? What happens when the other dog does not want to submit? Is the other dog close-by or far away? Has she attacked any of the dogs from her group, or only new dogs at the park? Is there a particular type of dog that she attacks? Larger dog, dogs of a certain breed, high energy dogs, younger dogs, etc.? Has she done any damage to other dogs? How many dogs are in the walking group? Are her puppies in the group? How is her recall? Does she stay with the walking group?

      My Shiba Inu was pretty reactive to other dogs. He gets over-excited and wants to meet every dog he sees at the park. This can be dangerous for him, because not all dogs want to meet new dogs, and some dogs may get aggressive when another dog comes into their space uninvited. I keep Sephy on-leash when we go walking, at the park, neighborhood, etc.

      At the same time, I do dog-to-dog desensitization exercises, to raise his reactivity threshold and to help him be more relaxed around other dogs. We do desensitization training in a structured environment, with trainer chosen dogs, and under the direction of a trainer.

      More on how we did dog-to-dog desensitization exercises with Sephy.

      I always try to set Sephy up for success, and not expose him to situations where he may go reactive. The more positive or neutral experiences that he has with other dogs, the more trust he builds, and the more relaxed he becomes. Similarly, reactive experiences and behaviors will erode that trust, build negative associations with other dogs, and worsen his behavior.

      We go walking on quiet, less popular trails, during off-hours, so that there are very few new dogs around. I carefully manage his environment, so that I do not expose him to more than he can handle.

      A good trainer can help with desensitization and also in identifying the triggers that cause reactive behavior in a dog.

  9. Tasha says

    So I have a mastiff mix. I got her from the shelter when she was just about year and, by my best guess, had recently weaned a litter of puppies. She did great in the face to face with my boxer and we brought her home. She did great when she met our friend’s dog, whom we now live with, the two of them still get a little heated every now and then, but they are both around the same age and have very dominant personalities. I used to be able to take my mastiff to petsmart and walk her around other dogs with no problem, ever since we moved she has become a terror when other dogs are around during our walks. She is on a gentle leader so she flings herself around essentially by her nose and screams like she’s being hurt and will not respond to any of my verbal cues, frankly it’s probably horrific to witness. She almost caused a fight with a large male shepherd I was attempting to introduce her too and he’s a very well balanced, mature dog. It’s been such a rapid change I have no clue what triggered it or where to begin to stop it. She has made improvements as far as walking past dogs barking in houses, but this behavior is unacceptable.

    • shibashake says

      Moving to a new environment can be very stressful for a dog. Suddenly everything is different, there is great uncertainty, which leads to anxiety and fear.

      When we moved, I set up a fixed routine for my Shiba right away, that is as close as possible to his previous routine. I also establish the same consistent set of house rules. Routine and consistency helps to create certainty. I also give him good outlets for his stressful energy. He likes exploring, so we go walking on quiet trails, during off-hours, when there are not very many people or dogs about. Usually it is just us, so it is fun and relaxing for him.

      As for meeting other dogs, I make sure to always take things slowly and go at a pace that Sephy is comfortable with. Most of the time, we don’t even meet the dogs, but just ignore and create neutral experiences.

      The more positive and calm experiences that Sephy has, the more confidence he gains, and the more positive associations he forms with other dogs. Similarly, negative or reactive events will undermine that confidence, significantly set back retraining, and worsen his behavior.

      Therefore, I always try to set Sephy up for success by managing his environment, creating neutral experiences, and not exposing him to situations he is not yet ready to handle. We did a lot of dog-to-dog desensitization exercises when he was young, and that was very helpful. We did the exercises in a controlled environment, with trainer chosen dogs, and under the direction of a trainer. We started from a very far distance and only moved closer when Sephy was ready for it. The important thing is to make the sessions short, positive, calm, and very rewarding.

      More on how I deal with dog-to-dog reactivity during walks.
      More on dog socialization.

  10. Anonymous says

    Hi! I work at a pet kennel, have had numerous aggressive and timid dogs warm up to me. However, there is a beagle there who hates specificly me. The dog doesn’t like new people, but doesn’t show the same aggression to them. It only barks. Unless I have food in my hand, the dog lunges at the fence with bulging eyes and a stuff body. Even walking past the cage is a problem because it’s so intent on biting me. How can I get the dog to warm up to me? I have tryes giving it treats, getting down low to show that I mean no harm, but in the same sense, I feel like I should show my dominance as a leader. Please help!

    • shibashake says

      I do people desensitization exercises with my dog to help him to be more calm around people, and to build positive associations with people.

      I establish leadership with my dogs by using resource control methods and following the Nothing in Life is Free program. I manage my dog’s environment and use management equipment as necessary to keep things safe. Dominance and other physical based methods did not work well with my dog. It made him lose trust in people and his reactive behavior worsened in the longer term. I no longer use such methods with my dogs, nor would I recommend their use to others.

      More on dominance and bad dog behavior.

      When a trainer deems a dog dominant, pet parents are usually told they must assume the “alpha” role to fix behavior problems. Unfortunately, training plans that are intended to assert a pet parent’s superiority are usually harsh and adversarial in nature. Techniques like alpha rolls, scruff shakes and other violent maneuvers frighten many dogs and can trigger defensive aggression. These techniques aren’t just unpleasant for dogs and dangerous for pet parents to administer. They’re also irrelevant to most behavior problems, and they can erode the bond between dog and pet parent.

  11. TMM says

    Hi, I really enjoyed this article and hope you can offer some advice for me.
    My dog is a 2.5 year old border collie-lab mix. She’s about 50lbs. She was socialized as a puppy, but around the time she was a year to 18 months she started having troubles at the dog park. She had been bullied by an adult female boxer, and after that started showing aggression when new dogs invaded her space. Anytime she showed aggression we would immediately leave the park. When she was 18 months old she got in a fight with a female boxer mix, and unfortunately broke skin on the other dog’s ear before I got to her to break it up (the other dog’s owner didn’t assist in breaking it up at all). For anyone concerned, I paid the other dog’s vet bill and did everything I could to help. After that incident we didn’t go to the park anymore and limited play dates to one-on-ones with dogs she already knew.
    We attended a special training class for reactive dogs and learned some valuable techniques for handling her in different situations. We take regular walks and have frequent playdates with certain puppy friends, but don’t go to the park anymore.
    I’m keeping my friend’s black lab right now, which we do very often. My dog and the black lab are best friends and get along very well all the time. Today I had another friend who needed to bring her dogs over while her house was worked on. She has a male rat terrier who played with my dog as puppies and they get along. She also has a female golden retriever who my dog doesn’t know very well. When they came over, I had my dog in the backyard and the black lab in another room. We put the rat terrier outside with my dog while we introduced the black lab and the golden retriever inside. Then we put all the dogs outside. They did just fine. They all sniffed each other and walked around the yard peeing and pooping and, other than the black lab occasionally trying to hump one of the new dogs, all was fine.
    After about a half hour of peaceful interaction, my friend and I went outside. The dogs crowded around us, and almost immediately my dog became aggressive toward the golden retriever, growling and snarling. I grabbed her and held her apart while my friend put the other dogs inside, and then since they had an appointment I helped her take her dogs out to her car.
    My dog is often boarded at a kennel with frequent playtimes, and she has never had a problem. The common denominator seems to be me. Could my presence be triggering her aggression somehow? Is she being protective of me?
    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    • shibashake says

      Were you giving attention to the Golden? Was the Golden blocking your dog from getting to you? Was it an exciting greeting when you and your friend went outside? Did the dogs get really excited?

      Many things can trigger a reactive reaction from my dogs, especially when there are new dogs or guests around. For example-
      1. During play, my dogs may get over-excited, and this may sometimes cause them to lose control and become reactive. I have clear play rules, I supervise during play, and I manage their excitement level.
      2. After they have been alone for awhile, for example in the backyard, they may also get excited when I go out to them. This can sometimes also cause them to lose control. I try to make greetings low key, and I get them to do obedience commands right away if I notice the start of over-excitement.
      3. Dogs get affection, food, and other good stuff from us. Therefore, we are a very valuable resource to our dogs. As a result, a dog may try to “guard” their people resource, especially from a new dog. A dog may also guard other resources, e.g. their personal space.
      4. A dog may show aggressive behavior when feeling threatened or vulnerable.
      5. ASPCA article on the many different types of aggression.

      Also, each of my dogs has different tolerances to other dogs based on temperament and past experiences. My Shiba Inu is the most picky, so I am always very careful when introducing him to new dogs, especially on home-turf. Dogs may become more protective of their home area, and may show more guarding behavior. I always supervise my Shiba closely when there are new dogs around, and it usually takes him a while (could be multiple sessions over multiple days) to get comfortable with a new dog. He does not trust easily, so with Sephy, it takes some extra time and supervision.

      I also did a lot of dog-to-dog desensitization exercises with my Shiba to raise his tolerance threshold.
      More on how I help my dogs get along.

      Dog behavior is very context dependent, and there can be many reasons for reactive behavior between two dogs. Therefore, when in doubt, I always consult with a good professional trainer who can observe the dogs’ behavior within the context of their regular environment and routine.

  12. Yesenia says

    Hello there, my dog, 8 years old, always acts his mates. He will be trying to mount them and ends up growling at them. He was never like this with my other dog but since she died hes been acting this way. Hes also become aggressive towards other male dogs. In walks he’ll be perfectly fine, ignoring every dog though.

  13. Doreen says

    Hi – I have a 1 y/o lab mix named Black and a 1 y/o lab/pit mix named Blu – both (fixed) males and both adopted at 12 weeks old one week apart – Black was adopted first. They have always gotten along wonderfully and recently have gotten into a few hardcore fights. I am not sure what is causing this or what to do about it – are they possibly fighting over position “in the pack” – I do not know which of them is the dominant or leader between the 2. Blu usually takes toys from Black but the both take each others beds, Blu usually goes on the walk first because he is calmer and sits patiently for his leash etc where as Black is hyper excited, if I had to guess I would say Blu may be the leader but I am really not 100% sure – can I be causing this drama by treating them equally? Thanks for any input.

    • shibashake says

      What were the dogs doing right before the fights? Were there important resources around (e.g. food, toys, bed)? What were the people doing? What was the surrounding context of the fights? What type of training are the dogs used to? What is their daily routine like? When did the behavior change occur? Were there any changes or unusual events during that time?

      Dog behavior is very context dependent and there are many different types of dog aggression. This article from the ASPCA has more.

      Given that the fights are hardcore, I would get help from a good professional trainer who can observe the dogs, understand their history and temperaments, read their body language, and evaluate their behavior within the context of their regular routine and environment. Stopping a hardcore dog fight can also be very dangerous for the people involved. While in the throes of a fight, the dog(s) may redirect on anyone who tries to restrain or stop them.

      With my dogs, I find that management is key. I set up structure and a consistent set of dog-to-dog interaction rules (e.g. no stealing, no humping, no bullying). When I get a new dog, I make sure to supervise closely (especially in the beginning) to teach my new dog the rules, and ensure that everyone is interacting well. In this way, my dogs know exactly what to expect from each other, what to expect from me, and what I expect from them in return. Rules and supervision help to create certainty and certainty helps to reduce stress and conflicts.

      Even now, I still supervise very well during play-time and meal-times, because that is when conflicts may arise over resources. I *do not* leave my dogs together without supervision until I am very very sure that they will be calm and relaxed together.

      I try to set my dogs up for success by redirecting my dog’s behavior before it escalates into anything serious. I manage their excitement levels by throwing in play breaks, and I try to create positive and calm experiences together.
      More on how I help my dogs get along.

      However, for hardcore fights and aggression, it is best and safest to get help from a good professional trainer.

  14. Stephanie says

    WE have 2 dogs, a lab-pit mixed (almost 2yo) and a cavalier mixed (older, age unknown)… Each time, we take both dogs for walks, the cavalier starts barking and the lab starts growling and being aggressive. I believe that the lab/pit is a dominant dog and the cavalier is the instigator.. We are not taking them to walks together any longer, but the pit is still aggressive…. He hasn’t had a lot of socialization and he is almost 2 years old, we adopted him from a shelter. How can we stop this aggression towards other dogs? Help is very much needed… Stephanie.

  15. jeff seibeck says

    I have a 2 1/2 year old American Bulldog/ lab. He is very aggressive towards other dogs when we go out to the dog parks or in public. I have a 4 year old boxer that he will sometimes attack if he gets mad. I have a baby on the way and I’m not sure what to do. I’m also a veteran and I’m going to be getting a service dog for my PTSD. I don’t want to have to get rid of him but I don’t know what or how to stop his aggressiveness. Can u help.

    • shibashake says

      Congratulations on your upcoming baby! 😀

      I helped my dog to be more comfortable around other dogs by doing dog-to-dog desensitization exercises. I did desensitization training at my local SPCA, with a trainer, and with trainer chosen dogs.

      One of the key things with helping my dog, is to manage his environment, so that he is not exposed to reactive events with other dogs. The more successful, calm, and rewarding experiences he has with other dogs, the more he associates other dogs with positive outcomes. Similarly, reactive events will undermine his trust, significantly set back our training, and worsen his behavior.

      Given that you have a baby coming, it is probably best and safest to get help from a good professional trainer. Dog behavior is very context dependent, so each dog and situation are different. A multiple dog household, with an upcoming baby, would further increase the complexity of the surrounding context.

  16. Ellie Woodthorn says

    I have this dog, Rupert who is a cross with a shih-tzu and a jack russel, he is just over a year old.

    He is a lovely dog but the problem is he bites. As a puppy he gave us a few nips here and there but we assumed it was him adjusting and that he was puppy, so never properly corrected him (with regret.)

    I believe he is dominant, he has grown up with a cat and as a puppy she had attacked him, mainly due to the fact she had given birth a few weeks later (we wasn’t aware she was pregnant and kept them in a separate room) not sure if all this is relevant but im giving his life story.

    When it comes to food, he shoots to his bowl, scoffs her food down and then eats hers.

    He is a loving dog when he isn’t being a brat, enjoys being groomed and pampered. He is happy to see us and is sad when nobody’s home. (I know this because my family leave me laying in bed and I hear him sometimes howl for them, he then realizes I’m home and will not ;ave my side.)

    We know that what causes him to bite is taking away something such as a toy or a bone. However on occasion he gets hold of my underwear and I am to frightened to get it from him because he can puncture flesh. He also takes the youngest toys and teddy, humps them and growls if we go near them, but this is for every toy.

    He has nicked food from my hand only once, and being a female and that time of month was in no mood so I took it back. He bit me, I hit him unable to control my rage of being constantly frightened by the dog, he bit me back. That I understand for.

    My father is the dominant male who will tell him to go out that back. However he has bit all of us, and recently attacked my sister for moving the blanket over my other sister. He was on the bed and didn’t like it. However we can’t physically pick him up because he bites and it hurts.

    I’ve tried dominating him with my stare, I win. I keep calm and try to reduce a stressful tone and it is very hard when a dog angers you, especially when he attacks family members. I show him that its wrong and he tucks his tail behind his legs and is all apologetic.

    The thing is 99% of the time he’s lovely and even allows the cat to attack him. I don’t know the word he is territorial? He barks at nothing, sometimes he alerts us he needs to go toilet however the majority of the time I’m pretty sure it’s to P**** us off. We try toys, treats etc.

    Is there anything to stop our boy from bullying our cat and biting his owners.

  17. adam says

    i have a pit / bulldog mix. she is the sweetest dog and loves playing with other dogs. But twice now she has attacked my little old chihuahua who is also female. This last time she almost killed her. my dog does not seem to do it out of stress or anger, it is like she is showing off for me. She doesn’t even mess with my chihuahua unless I am standing there with them. She seems to not have a mean bone in her body but she attacks so happily when it comes to the other dog. She herself was attacked by a dog when she was younger and I feel like it may have something to do with her behavior. She minds well and recognizes me as the pack leader but for some reason she needs to get excited and attack to impress me. I do training with her and try to keep her from getting over excited. For example one time I was running back and forth across the yard with her and when I jogged back up to the porch and she immediately hopped on my little chihuahua. this last time was so awful and makes me very sad. I walked into the door and the dogs got excited to see me. my pitmix and all her excitement turned and pounced old my little chihuahua again. This time she gave her the death shake and flung her all around and wouldn’t let go. My 11 year old chihuahua was in shock and now her arm is possibly broken. She is going to the vet first thing in the morning. what do I do about this hyper energy aggression and get her to understand that this type of showing off is very bad?

    • shibashake says

      My dogs usually get very excited when I come home. I make sure to keep greetings low key and to keep their excitement in-check. I do this by getting them to focus on me and I get them to do commands. I need to redirect them onto me *before* they lose control of themselves. If they get over-excited, they may sometimes redirect their excited energy onto each other, and that is what I want to avoid.

      I also do desensitization and counter-conditioning exercises to raise their reactivity threshold. This is something that is better done under the direction of a good professional trainer.

      I separate my dogs until I am very very sure that they won’t hurt each other. I use leashes and other management equipment, to keep everyone safe. Management is very important because it allows me to set my dogs up for success and not put them in situations where they will lose control. For example, if a guest is coming, I keep my Shiba Inu on-leash because he is the most reactive. In this way, I can easily stop him from running around and amping up my other dogs.

      During play, I make sure to throw in many play-breaks. For example, running with my Shiba always gets him very excited, so I have breaks in-between, where we do commands and he gets a chance to calm down. Once he is calm, I can resume play and then break and so on. When play ends, I make sure he is totally calm before bringing him back inside with my other dogs. In this way, he doesn’t come in over-excited and get reactive on my other dogs.

      I also set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules. When I got a new puppy, there was a big difference in age and size, therefore I keep puppy close to me, or separated from my other dogs. During play, I use leashes to make sure that I am always in control and my puppy does not get accidentally hurt by my much larger adult dogs.

      However, dog behavior is very context dependent so each dog and situation are different. Given the big size and age difference of your dogs, I would get help from a good professional trainer who can observe the dogs within the context of their regular routine and environment, and provide guidance on management and retraining techniques to keep everyone safe.

  18. Christine says

    I am in need of some advice. We have a 3 year old mutt who is very friendly and
    loves other dogs, children, and people. We take her everywhere and 98% of the time
    she is very friendly to everyone. Our neighbor has a lab puppy who has been playing with
    her since she is very little but now that she is much larger and a bit of a “bull in a china shop” Stella (my dog) growls and snaps at her for about the first 10 minutes every time they play. The dog is very submissive to Stella so eventually Stella calms down but obviously the behavior is upsetting and sounds very nasty. Yesterday we were at a dog walk that Stella loves and a dog (another lab) that she knows and likes ran up to her and got in her face and Stella attacked him. Twice – we think she even bit him but it happened so quickly. We separate them and she was fine with all the other dogs during the walk and then had no issues with the lab the rest of the day and we spent hours with them afterwards but just made sure he didn’t jump on her again.
    I would like to be able to eradicate this behavior and I know that Stella is probably feeling intimated as they are much bigger than her (doesn’t happen with smaller dogs) and stressed. How do I make sure this stops happening? I don’t want to have to worry about taking Stella out with us
    Thank you

  19. Mike says

    How do I stop my husky puppy from dominating another dog in our household? She will not leave our corgi mix alone. How do I go about correcting this behavior. The husky is 3 months old and we have a 12 year old husky mix and a corgi poodle mix that’s 4. She is signed up of obedience training and starts a week from Friday.

    • shibashake says

      Some things that I did when introducing my new Husky puppy-
      1. I set up a consistent set of rules including dog-to-dog interaction rules. I slowly teach my puppy what these rules are. In this way, each dog knows exactly what to expect from each other, what to expect from me, and what I expect from them in return. This creates certainty and certainty helps to reduce stress and and conflicts.

      2. I set up a fixed routine for my puppy, which includes the ever important nap time, training time, play time with me, and interaction time with my other dogs. I set things up so that they fit well with the current schedule of my existing dogs. In this way, my other dogs have a bunch of time where they know that the puppy is napping or doing stuff with me.

      3. During interaction time, I put a light-lead on my puppy so that I can keep her close to me and have better control. If she plays too rough or if she tries to bother a dog that does not want to be bothered, I no-mark, and redirect her attention back onto me by doing something interesting, e.g. starting a fun game, rewards, etc. If she ignores me and continues, then I use the leash to get her away and engage her in doing something else.

      4. I start doing simple obedience commands with my puppy as early as possible, e.g. Look, Sit. This is useful because it allows me to redirect her focus back onto me, and gives her a chance to calm down. During play/interaction I throw in many obedience breaks, which helps to manage her level of excitement, so that play does not get out of control and escalate into something else.

      5. I try to set my dogs up for success by scheduling interaction time when everybody is most receptive. I make sure there are safe areas where if a dog goes in there, it means they want a break. I supervise interaction time very closely so that I can do play-breaks, redirect unwanted behavior, make sure safe areas are safe, and stop things before they escalate.

      More on what I do when introducing a new dog.

  20. NellyDean says


    We have an eight month old Jack Russel. He is such a loving family pet however his behaviour has been getting steadily worse. We have contacted a dog trainer and we are lead training him at the moment, so walking him correctly when out on a walk and making him wear the lead in the house to control his behaviour. He is fine with other dogs, he just wishes to play, he has never ran off and is relatively well behaved in the park. In the house however he is aggressive and loud and will not do as he is told unless he is on the lead. He is more aggressive towards my partner and he bites his feet and runs off in order to get a reaction. He then has to be put in his cage so that he settles down, however, shortly on being let out again the behaviour continues. We have stopped him getting on the settee and began to change the way in which we feed him, so guarding it and making him wait for it. I have also tried teaching him patience on the lead so waiting thirty seconds at door ways and walking out before him not vice versa. Is there something I can do to limit the aggressive behaviour, it is most prominent when we are sitting on the settee watching the television, so a peaceful evening without stress is impossible at the moment! It really is heart breaking to see him like this as the imbalance is obviously making him an unhappy dog and I just want what’s best for him. Please help us. Nelly.

    • shibashake says

      Yeah, I had similar issues with my Shiba Inu when he was young. He behaved badly in the house and started doing leash biting when we went out on walks. It was not a good time.
      More on my difficult beginning with Sephy.

      Some things that I learned from Sephy-
      1. He is very sensitive to the energy of the people around him. If I am fearful, frustrated, worried, angry, or otherwise stressed, he will pick up on that, get stressed himself, and act event more crazy. After I controlled my own energy, things improved significantly with Sephy.

      2. He likes to get a reaction from people and start a chasing game. If I chase him, it is more fun than ever, he gets rewarded for his bad behavior, and he keeps repeating it. During the early days, I put a drag-lead on Sephy (only with a flat collar or harness, and only under supervision. Absolutely no aversive collars). The drag lead allowed me to easily stop all chasing games, and quickly take him to timeout. I do *not* use his crate for timeouts.

      3. I set up a fixed schedule and a consistent set of rules for all of my dogs. I follow the Nothing in Life is Free program so my dogs work for all of their food, and for other resources that they want. This is a great way to get them to follow house rules and to establish leadership.

      4. I make sure to exercise Sephy well and give him many positive and structured outlets for his energy. The more energy he spends on positive activities, the less energy he has for his Shiba hi-jinks. 😀

      5. Dog behavior is very context dependent, so when in doubt, I consult with a professional trainer. However, the dog training field is not well regulated so it can be a challenge to find a good trainer.

      The best trainers for Sephy were those who understood the science behind dog training (e.g. operant conditioning principles), are properly certified, and have good experience with reactive dogs. Be careful of trainers who try to explain everything with so called “dominance theory” and who primarily use dominance and aversive techniques. We unfortunately got one of those trainers early on, and it made things a lot worse for everyone, especially Sephy.
      More on how I went about finding a trainer.
      More on where I get dog training and dog behavior information.

  21. Matt says

    Perhaps I missed it somewhere on the site, an important piece of body language, which once I learned to read has made a marked difference in the communication between my Shibas and I. (Had Simba for 14 years, and just rescued two 14 year olds, Rextopher and Lulu).

    Pay attention to the “licking of the lips” (when there is no food involved), it’s a sign of, “Buddy, I’m not cool with this”. If my action, even petting prompts lip licking, it’s the dog telling me to “quit it”. I stop what I’m doing, and over time, they seem thankful that i finally “got it”, and they move me up on their respect ladder.

    I get conflicting information on the “rub my belly” rollover…some assert if does not mean rub my belly…but rather, “I am uncomfortable with the current proceedings and I’m distracting my nervous energy.” Thoughts?

    • shibashake says

      Dog behavior is very context dependent. Therefore, to interpret what my dog is trying to tell me, I take into account his temperament, history, surrounding context, his entire body language, what the nearby people are doing, what my dog was doing before, etc.

      When my dog “wags” his tail, it does not always mean that he is in a friendly mood and wants to meet.
      As you pointed out, when a dog licks his lips it *can* be a sign of stress, or it can also be something else.

      When my dog rolls over, sometimes it is because he is more comfortable sleeping that way, sometimes it is because he wants a tummy rub, sometimes it is his way of begging for food, sometimes it can be a sign of submission, etc. It depends on the context and the dog.

      I do not know of any secret Shiba handshake. 🙂 I learn to listen to my dogs by observing them closely, carefully managing their environment, and evaluating things based on the current context as well as their temperament and history.

  22. Chetena says


    I have two german shepherds, one 19 months old and one 6 months old.
    The older one has always been stubborn since childhood but never showed signs of aggression before. But recently he is becoming bit aggressive not a days. Though he has never bitten any one but sometimes growls towards 2 members of our family.

    Recently he scratched his skin himself, so we have to make him wear Elizabeth Collar for the first time. We made him wear it for few hour and then removed it to make him fell relax and took him for a walk for his business. When we came back he went inside the bed where he generally hides himself and sleeps at night. When we tried to call him out he became very aggressive. He growled at my husband badly and was in a complete attacking mode. We were so frightened, but then I came in and tried to bring him out. He didn’t growled at me thought came out for some time when I shared some treats , but then again went inside.

    However he came out again after sometime, by a trick which my husband does generally.

    He even growls at two other family members sometimes, but all this has started recently in a month. I am very much tensed about his behaviour. We all love him very much, and I don’t want him to be aggressive.

    He has never bitten anyone yet, but is not friendly with strange dogs now. Was fine with them before but not now..

    I wanted to know are we really dealing with a very aggressive dog here?
    And what can I do to make him less aggressive?

    Sorry for so long comment.

    Thank you in advance.

    – Chetena

    • shibashake says

      Recently he scratched his skin himself, so we have to make him wear Elizabeth Collar for the first time.

      Has he been to the vet recently? Is he losing fur? Does he seem uncomfortable? Is he eating and drinking normally? Are there other changes in behavior?

      Sudden changes in behavior *can* be caused by physical issues. The first thing that I do when I notice sudden unusual behavior in my dog, is to rule out physical issues first. I take my dog to the vet if necessary.

    • Chetena says

      Hey thanks for the reply.
      Yes we took him to the vet the next day itself.
      He asked us to let him wear the collar for few days. He still wears it but is clam now. And yes he has been loosing his fur too.

      He seems better now 🙂 May be it was the pain which caused the issue?

    • shibashake says

      Pain, discomfort, or feeling vulnerable (e.g. because of sickness or physical impairment) can cause significant changes in a dog’s behavior. It is the same way with people.

      I am glad that he is feeling better. 🙂

  23. Ashley says

    Hi there!! I also have a Shiba Inu, she is about 4 years old and is dominant (as most shibas are) But she also has fear aggression. For a bit of history, we also tried ceasar’s techniques when she was a puppy at about 6 months of age because she was absolutely horrendous. She was so bad that we were told to put her down when she was 6 months so we tried every type of training possible. We all assumed that she was just down-right aggressive for no reason, because she would show no signs of fear and just attack instantly. Much like you, I found ceasar’s methods only backtracked my dog and made her not trust me. Shortly after I figured that wasn’t working I jumped to positive rewards based training and saw tremendous improvement in a short amount of time. Fast forward a few years, she still has fear aggression, but has improved a lot. I can trust her to no longer bite people at all, she just has to be introduced slowly to new people, but she warms up shortly after, running and bringing her toys to new company shortly after. What’s great is that now she will actually show fear-responses and I can get her out of the situation if need-be. She knows all basic commands and right now we are slowly working on desensitizing and socializing her with dogs. The reason why I’m typing this is because I’m really struggling at where to go next with the training. She’s able to get right up next to the dog (about 2 feet away). However, I don’t let her anywhere closer, because I don’t know if she’ll attack or not. She gets over-stimulated very easy and can NOT stand butt-sniffing. So as a safety measure I have considered getting a basket-type muzzle. But I was wondering if this would make her regress? She has been doing so well the past few years and especially improving with actually being able to be NEXT to a dog. However, I wasn’t sure if a muzzle would be a good idea or not. I know if I DID use a muzzle I would have to do a lot of conditioning to get her used to it. But I don’t know if it would stress her out too much when near the other dog and cause aggression when she gets frustrated??

    Sorry for the really bad explanation, I wish I could talk to you over the phone or something, it’s really hard to type all of this out especially when it’s so late. This has just really been plaguing my mind now for a few weeks as to where to go next with the training. If you have any questions, feel free to ask! I could really use your advice especially since you actually own a Shiba!

    • shibashake says

      With Sephy it really depends a lot on his body language, past experiences, as well as on the energy and temperament of the other dog.

      Sephy also does not like butt sniffing from new dogs. Here is why. With dogs that he already knows and trusts, he is ok with most things except challenges and bullying behavior.

      However, I don’t let her anywhere closer, because I don’t know if she’ll attack or not.

      What is your dog’s body language like when she is close to the other dog? Are both dogs on-leash? What is the energy and temperament of the other dog? Is the other dog engaged with his handler or is he focused on your dog? What is the history of your Shiba in terms of other dogs? Have there been any fights? If so, how serious? What was the context? What type of dogs were involved?

      I observe Sephy very closely when other dogs are around and try to read his body language. Based on our experiences together, I know that he does not get along with dominant dogs. He does well with relaxed playful dogs, who like wrestling and rougher type of play. Small dogs or dogs his own size don’t do well with him because they easily get overwhelmed by his intense play-style and become fearful. Sephy does best with larger, playful dogs. From observing Sephy, I know what dogs to protect him from and how I can set him up for success.

      In terms of a basket muzzle, I have used those on Sephy a few times for vet visits. The thing is, when Sephy has the muzzle on and we go into the vet’s examination room, he just shuts down. His behavior is very different when he has the muzzle on and when he does not. The vet kept saying that he is so well behaved, but if I remove his muzzle, he will go into reactive mode very quickly. This makes it less useful for counter-conditioning and creating positive experiences.

      It is important to note though that dog behavior is very context dependent, so each dog and each situation will be different. Sephy may respond to the muzzle by shutting down, and other dogs may respond differently. I think if I were in a similar situation to what you describe, I would consult with some good professional trainers and get their thoughts and recommendations. This has always helped me make better decisions for Sephy.

      Hope this helps. Big hugs to your Shiba girl.

    • Ashley says

      Thought I should give you an update on my shiba girl! So when she’s with other dogs (before) any of the aggression behavior starts, she’ll get very still for a split second and then lunge. But her body language is different depending on the dog. If it’s a bigger dog, her hind legs might start shaking out of fear, if it’s a smaller dog, she’ll start pulling on the leash to get to them. However, every situation she’s on a leash. Which made me wonder if she’s leash-reactive more than anything. So I decided to take her to our local dog park. The one closest to us has two sides a big dog side and a little dog side. They’re divided between each other by a chain-link fence so they can say hello to each other but nothing can happen. So I went on the small dog side while there were no dogs there and let her lose, keeping an eye out for anyone else in case they came on the same side. And she actually did great. She didn’t bare her teeth at ANY dog. And she was able to greet nose-to-nose only which is her preference. So all in all it was good. The only trouble we encountered was towards the end when someone came in with two very excited Aussies who were veeeerry talkative while running around so I leashed my girl up and started towards the exit. I picked her up as we got closer to the dogs, and she let out a huge “shiba scream” trying to get lose from me. So the next day I went to try again and went at a more busy time. And I wanted to test something out. So. I did end up testing to see how a muzzle would work on her. I praised her when it was on, have her some treats. Of course at first she was not happy about it, but once we went on a walk with it on, she wasn’t even fazed by it. It was like it didn’t even exist. Her body language was positive, tail curled over her back with her ears perked-up, but relaxed. So YESTERDAY we ended up going to the dog park again and did the same routine. This time with the muzzle on, and someone from the big-dog side ended up encouraging me to come over. So I decided hey. Why not. If it doesn’t work out, we’ll just come back over. And oh my gosh. She was a bit hesitant at first, but that tail of hers never went down. She actually ended up playing with some of the big dogs (there were about 8 dogs total on that side) and I was so proud of her! The only dog she disapproved of was a female husky who got a little to close to comfort for her and so I got between them and just blocked her off from sniffing my dog’s bottom. But all-in-all she did wonderful. Of course, she was more interested with the people there and acted so sweet towards them all which made them ask why on earth would such a sweet dog have a muzzle on. Until they saw how she was with the husky lol. But all-in-all it was a great day and I’m really wondering if she’s just more leash-reactive than anything. I was incredibly impressed that the muzzle didn’t change her mood. After about 30 minutes of running around with the dogs, she came up onto the bench and laid next to me, letting all the other dogs come up to her. I was in utter shock! I truly think it really helped because I was the most calm with her that I had ever been when she was near dogs because I knew if something happened the other dogs were safe, which meant she was safe as well. And thankfully all the dogs there are very laid back and all well behaved so I don’t have to worry about any of the dogs attacking her while she’s defenseless but I still keep my eyes on her at all times. But she really seemed to enjoy it and slept sooooo well last night!

    • shibashake says

      That is great to hear Ashley! I am so glad that she is doing so well.

      Thanks for the update and big hugs to your Shiba girl. 😀

  24. TREVA says

    need help
    I have a shepherd/chow dog not quite a year old. My mom just moved in with her small dog who barks excessively at anything that moves or loud noises. My dog, Charlie has made friends with our cat. took a while but worked it out. Charlie has allowed my moms dog to even eat out of his food bowl without getting aggressive about it at all. Although, my moms dog would not allow Charlie to share the food and attacked charlie. Now Charlie wants to stand over the little dog and corner him and not let him move. He doesn’t try to hurt him, but I feel like he’s trying to dominate the little one now. The little dog from day one refused to let Charlie smell him and my mom just never allowed that to happen from day one and now its getting to the point any time the little dog ventures out of the room charlie wants to charge him and corner him. No growling or barking, just stand over him. So, I’m at a point where I don’t know what to do to get them used to each other. I need some ideas or help on how to fix the situation.

    • TREVA says

      my mom also has a perceived perception of a chow mix and thinks that he is just always in aggressive mode.

    • shibashake says

      With my dogs, I set up a consistent set of rules. I do not allow any kind of bullying and there is absolutely no stealing. Stealing can encourage resource guarding behavior and aggression. Consistency is important, so all my dogs follow house rules. I get everyone in the house to pitch in, use the same training techniques, and institute the same rules.

      In this way, my dogs know exactly what to expect from each other, what to expect from the people around them, and what I expect from them in return. They know that I will resolve conflicts in a fair and consistent manner. Consistency creates certainty, and certainty reduces stress and reactive behavior.

      More on what I do to help my dogs get along.
      More on how dogs learn.

      Note however, that dog behavior is very context dependent. Each dog and each situation is different. Therefore when in doubt, or in cases of aggression, I consult with a good professional trainer.

  25. Cheri says

    Hi there. I have 2 dogs, a year old husky and a 6 month old german shepherd. My husky was attacked by a dog when she was 3 months old, it was really bad and she was lucky she pulled though. Before she was attacked we were about to take her to puppy preschool so anyway after her attacked she recovered and she was about 16 weeks and we took her to puppy pre school so she has been socialize around other dogs since she was little. She is the dominant dog to my shepherd. And to my cousins dogs I look after everyday. She’s still friendly and plays but if something happens she makes sure it’s her way. Or she always steals there toys. Anyway recent we went to the beach we walked past these dogs and my 2 dogs sniffed like always and one of there dogs growled it looked like it was scared and my husky decided to jump on her back and looked like she was trying to hump this dog, I called her and she came. Then also my mate got a new dog and we let our dogs meet, I only let my husky out at this stage and she started getting get snappy at this other dog and I told her to stop it and be nice and she was fine and happy to play. I’ve never seen her act like this and it seems to only be by dogs she’s never meet? Why could this me and how can I stop it?

    • shibashake says

      Yeah, my dogs are also more wary of new dogs. I think that is natural, because they do not know what the new dog will be like, and whether he will be a threat. It is the same with people, we are more wary of strangers because we do not know them, how they will act, or what their intentions are.

      Also, different dogs have different social tolerances. Good article on dog social tolerance.

      Suzanne Clothier also has a great article on dog social boundaries titled He Just Wants to Say Hi.

      With my dog, I try to understand what his social boundaries are, and then I set him up for success by only letting him do greetings that will have a positive or at worst, neutral outcome. The more positive and successful greetings my dog has, the more he learns to associate other dogs with being calm and safe. The opposite is also true, so I try to minimize negative events.

      I also did a lot of dog-to-dog desensitization exercises with my Shiba to help raise his dog tolerance level, and teach him alternate behaviors when he gets stressed.

  26. Becky says

    I was wonder if I could get your opinion on our adjacent marking situation.

    We have a 6yr old Yorkie-mix. She is a rescue. And we have had her for almost two years. In that time she has come a long way with her trust issues.
    Her toughest hurdle has been other dogs. She barks and lunges, but then tries to hide. It’s as though she is trying to pretend to be dominant but isn’t fooling anyone.

    We were starting to think she would never meet another dog she liked. But a puppy was brought over to our house and no barking, only playing! We ended up keeping this new puppy and for the most part it has been wonderful for both of them. The older dog has helped the puppy with her separation issues. And the puppy has helped the older dog with her acceptance of other dogs (she is learning to ignore other dogs on walks, barks less, and doesn’t give visiting dogs at our home a hard time). They play, they cuddle, but still have their limits. They act like big sister and little sister.

    There’s just one problem(maybe?)
    Whenever we take them both out for a potty break, the older dog will wait for the puppy to pee and then will do some adjacent marking.

    Is it best to put a stop to it (take them out for separate pees? When we do this, the older dog rarely finds, or bothers to find the puppy’s puddle), or let her continue to build her confidence?

    • shibashake says

      Hello Becky,
      So far, I have not seen anything which shows that adjacent marking is an issue. Are you concerned about dominance issues?

      The only thing I have seen so far is this study by Lisberg and Snowdon, which showed that

      dogs adjacent-marked only unfamiliar samples, and neither sex nor TBP significantly affected adjacent marking.

      where TBP = tail base position

      If you know of other articles about this, please post us some links. Thanks.

  27. Ailsa says

    Hi there. I wonder if you could help with my dog’s very selective aggression! She’s around 4-5 years old (neutered), and I adopted her just over 2 years ago. She is usually very calm and not at all aggressive (no aggression at all towards people or my recently rescued kitten), and if we are out walking and meet stray or unknown dogs she is generally pretty disinterested. I’ve always taken her to the park to play with other dogs, and she has both female and male friends she plays will well. I have noticed sometimes that she seems to get overwhelmed if there are more than a couple of dogs playing together, it’s like she doesn´t know where to fit in, and and she gets frustrated. This leads to her sometimes barking at them and trying to mount the dogs. But this is very manageable and does not turn aggressive. But recently there is a new dog in the neighbourhood who mine has behaved aggressively towards right from the start. The other dog is also female, around 6 months old but almost the same size as her. This dog is quite nervous nervous owner) and seems playful but submissive. My dog sniffs her, walks around her and inevitably growls and quickly gets aggressive, trying to bite her. The strange thing is that this aggression seemed to be triggered by the other dog actually submitting to her, rolling onto her back. I get that my dog is probably wanting to dominate. But what I don´t get is why she seems to attack when the other dog has already submitted. Is there something I’m not seeing? I would love to be able to stop this behaviour. Any help would be really great! Thanks a lot.

    • shibashake says

      My Shiba Inu, Sephy, is very sensitive to the energy of the dogs and people around him. If I am stressed or nervous, he will quickly pick up on my energy, get stressed himself, and become even more reactive. He will also pick up on the energy of nearby people and dogs. For this reason, we avoid people and dogs who are fearful, nervous, or over-excited. I try to set Sephy up for success so we only meet more calm or playful/relaxed dogs.

      With Sephy, I want to maximize positive, successful greetings, and minimize reactive events. I noticed that the more reactive events that Sephy had, the more reactive he is likely to become. If I am unsure about a dog or person, then we just avoid and create a neutral experience.

      I also set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules with Sephy. I try to be very consistent about stopping all undesirable behavior, so that he learns which behaviors are acceptable and which are not. I set the rules, and I enforce them in a fair and consistent way so that my dogs know exactly what to expect from each other, what to expect from me, and what I expect from them.

      With Sephy, dog-to-dog desensitization exercises were also helpful in getting him to stay more calm with other dogs.

      When in doubt about my dog’s behavior (especially aggressive type behaviors), I consult with a good professional trainer who can observe Sephy and read his body language within the context of his environment.

  28. JoAnn says

    I have a Rottweiler mix, possibly with shepherd. Dominant, intelligent, but needy. We rescued him when he was about 3, and have had him for 2 years. He had been found as a stray, kept at animal control and then rescued by a local rescue group. He was there for about 6 months when we found him. Severe separation anxiety at first, took about a month of working with him before we could both leave the house at the same time. (We are both retired). Never shown any type of aggression, but very defensive with touching, especially with feet. Gotten past that, hates the vet, but we work with that.
    Now he has started what I think is guarding. He will grab napkins, or food that drops…we have been successfully trading with him. Doesn’t work to try to dominate and try to just take it back! He has always been very friendly with other dogs…greeted them nicely off or on lease. Until now. If a dog he does not know approaches him when we are walking, on leash, especially if the other dog is running with its owner, Lucas jumps, barks, lunges, growls,…you name it. My husband tried to physically stop him today and Lucas almost bit…stopped as soon as he realized what he was doing.(my interpretation) I had him on a walk outside of our neighborhood, and this did. Jot happen. We are seriously considering a shock collar, which is what brought me to your website. A trainer we have used in the past suggested letting the leash out and not restraining him, but that is difficult if I do. It know the owner and dog. We have successfully met some of the dogs after asking the owners permission, and Lucas is fine! Sweet, friendly with both owner and dog. But if they are coming at him and he doesn’t recognize them, the lunging and aggressive behavior starts.
    Any ideas on how to train him without the collar?
    Thank you!

    • shibashake says

      Dogs have social rules and different social tolerances, just as we do. For example, my Shiba Inu does not like strange dogs sniffing his butt or invading his space. However, with dogs that he trusts, he is totally ok with those behaviors.

      A very good article on this by Suzanne Clothier – He Just Wants to Say Hi
      More on dog social tolerance.

      I help Shiba Sephy by –
      1. Creating neutral experiences.
      2. Doing dog-to-dog desensitization exercises.
      3. Protecting him from negative encounters.

      Sephy is also very sensitive to the energy of the people around him. If I am stressed or anxious, he will pick up on that, get stressed himself, and become even more reactive. Therefore, I make sure to control my own energy, and stay as calm as possible.

      More on what I do for Sephy’s dog-to-dog reactivity.
      More on the friendly dog.

      The key with Sephy is to maximize successful outings and minimize negative encounters. I want to teach him how to be calm and relaxed around other dogs, and that other dogs being nearby is nothing to worry about. I do this in a structured and controlled environment through desensitization exercises. At other times, I avoid and create neutral experiences. Punishing him only made him associate other dogs with even more negative experiences, and made him even more reactive.

      During Sephy’s difficult period, we did a lot of desensitization exercises at our local SPCA under the direction of one of their trainers. Dog behavior is very context dependent, and the desensitization process is not exactly intuitive, therefore it was helpful for us to have private lessons with a trainer who was experienced with such behavior and techniques. I also wanted to make sure that everybody stayed safe.

    • Anonymous says

      Thank you. I read the first two articles, but the one thing that stood out was your comment on context dependent. This is new behavior, past 2 months, and only happens on our neighborhood walk. I had him in a park setting with a friend and her golden. No problem with other dogs approaching us…ears perked up, sniffing, but no lunging, growling and barking. Just a normal interaction…they passed and we kept on walking. This also only happens when it is a dog we have not met…usually a runner and dog, whom we cannot stop and ask to meet. Off leash, he has played well with new dogs. But he did get more aggressive with my friend’s dog a week ago when we were at her house and they were playing, before we took them to the park. Her dog went down as he usually does after they race around, but this time Lucas went for his neck instead of just barking. No blood, no damage, but clearly more aggressive than before with a dog he has known for 2 years. Stymied….this was a dog who clearly wanted only people when we first adopted him. Just ignored other dogs, leaning on whoever we met. Now, he heads straight for the dog, sniffing and sometimes mounting. I’ve adopted before, so I know behaviors change, but this is a first for me.
      Appreciate your time.

  29. Amber says

    My family and I have a 2year old female pug/shitzu mix (looks more pug than shitzu). We just recently moved to another state and have been trying to get things straightened up with all of that. Since our move she has become very aggressive with other dogs around her as well as people. She chases people, nipping at their heels, & barks. We have another dog whose a mix, he’s only 8 months old and she has become very over protective with him. If any other dogs start to play with him, she suddenly becomes ‘Cujo’ and attacks the other dog. I believe she has separation anxiety right now because of being in an unfamiliar place. We’ve been using the NILIF concept to work with her, am I being impatient with her? Could she be feeding off of the stress all of us are going through from the move?

    • shibashake says

      When my dog has anxiety issues, the first thing that I do is try to figure out the source of his anxiety. Once I do that, I can-
      1. Manage his environment so as to reduce his anxiety.
      2. Help him cope with his anxiety through desensitization and counter-conditioning exercises.

      Does your dog only show signs of stress when there are no family members around? What was her behavior with other dogs before the move? What was her behavior with people before the move?

      My Shiba Inu, Sephy, also got somewhat stressed when we moved houses. This was because there were large changes to his environment and normal routine, which creates a lot of uncertainty, which leads to stress. Sephy is also very sensitive to the energy of the people around him, so if I am stressed, he will quickly pick up on that and become stressed himself.

      This is different from separation anxiety, because Sephy will be stressed even when we are around. In his case, the stress was the result of changes in his regular surroundings and routine, rather than from being alone or away from his people.

      After the move,
      1. I quickly set up a fixed schedule and routine.
      In the beginning, I make sure to stick to the routine as much as possible. I also establish a set of consistent rules ~ similar to the rules and routine we had when in the old house. In this way, Sephy knows exactly what to expect from me, what to expect from others, what to expect from other dogs, and what I expect from him in return. This created certainty, which helps to reduce his stress.

      During this time I also try to keep things as low-key and stable as possible. Introducing more changes will only exacerbate his anxiety.

      2. I stay calm and decisive.
      I make sure to control my own energy and to stay calm whenever Sephy is around. I also have a plan of what to do when Sephy loses control of himself, so that I can quickly stop and redirect him. Being decisive helped a lot because then Sephy knows that I will always take care of things, and handle him in a consistent way.

      3. I give him outlets for his anxious energy.
      I took Sephy out on longer walks in quiet trails. Sephy enjoys exploring the environment, so this gave him a fun way to release his stressful energy. I picked quiet trails with few people and we went during off hours so that we usually have the place to ourselves, and it is a relaxing outing. It is important that the alternate activity be quiet, low-key, and relaxing.

      I also did a lot of dog and people desensitization exercises with Sephy. This helped him to learn what to do around other dogs and people, and it also helped him to be more calm.

      More on dog anxiety.
      More on people desensitization exercises.
      More on dog-to-dog desensitization exercises.

      However, dog behavior is very context dependent. Aggressive behavior can be the result of many different things, so the first thing that I always do is try to accurately identify the source of my dog’s reactive behavior. During Sephy’s difficult period, we visited with several professional trainers who helped us with this and with coming up with a good and safe plan for retraining.

      More on how I change my dog’s behavior.

  30. zoe says

    Please help! my mum has a spaniel cross that even as a puppy was aggressive and timid. you can visit my mother and he will come up excited then when you go to show affection he starts growling. my mum has let him rule the house eg on the sofa with her even sleeps with her. when he gets aggressive she tells us to be careful and gets him up on the chair with her. when you go to leave and kiss her goodbye he goes for you and she tells you to be careful!. she is scared of him and hence he gets away with anything he does. on a serious note he has bitten her twice now and has bitten my granddad and my 2 year old nephew before and most recently tonight my nephew, sister & my mum in the same attack which was unprovoked. after this she had him sitting up on the sofa with her!! she is in total denial and blames everyone else which I feel is not fair as surely if you let a dog get away with biting anyone for no reason it is going to do it again & again. the attacks are getting more vicious and more frequent and she defends him. please advise what you feel is appropriate action as this has now caused a problem as she is blaming my sister when clearly being unprovoked this is not right! please please help…

    • shibashake says

      I would get help from a good professional trainer. It is usually easier to accept dog advice from an outside professional, rather than from family or friends. In addition, dog behavior is very context dependent, so especially in cases of aggression, it is usually a good idea to consult with a professional who can observe the dog within his normal environment and routine.

      When I was having issues with my Shiba Inu (Sephy), we visited with several trainers. The dog training field is not well regulated, so it is not always easy to find a good trainer. However, I learned some really useful things from the ones I visited with. I also read up a lot on dog behavior so that I could more easily screen out the bad trainers, and could better read and understand Sephy.
      More on where I get my dog training and dog behavior information.

      I also made sure to always keep things safe by using management equipment such as leashes, gates, and a basket muzzle if necessary. If my dog should accidentally hurt someone and it gets reported, it would be really bad news for him. Preventing accidental attacks is important not just for the people around, but also to keep our dogs safe.

  31. Tiffany says

    We have had Jackson out Bassett hound ( Jackson)for 5 years, and our shorkie for 4 years. We just rescued a shih tzu (dusty)who is 7 and came from a home where he wasn’t alpha. However, dusty isn’t neutered. I don’t see dusty showing behaviors of alpha. But Jackson won’t stop attacking him. Any toys, treats I understand. But dusty will just be walking by Jackson and Jackson will full on attack dusty. We give them all the same attention. However, I do get scared and yell when Jackson attacks, then lick him in time out for 30 minutes. I know I’m doing this all wrong. Jackson will attack the shorkie once in a while, but will attack dusty everytime he walks near. I don’t know what to do. Help!

  32. Erin says


    I have a 8 month old border collie lab great pyreneese mix. We adopted him at 4.5 months old after being returned from his previous owners for his fear of the husband. At first he would pee whenever my husband went to pet him. We were able to work through that in a few days. We thought that was a sign of being submissive.

    Now we are running into extreme fits when we leave. Our neighbors have mentioned his barking a time or two. We left him outside he destroyed the door frame. We put him in his kennel and he goes berserk. He refuses to eat any treats when in the crate and will actually push them or his favorite toy out of the crate. He did go potty in there twice. It’s a wire crate and he’s managed to eat the handles off and also bend the frame itself trying to get out. He also destroyed the bed that was in there. (He has a crate upstairs that he sleeps in no problem, loves going in there, sleeps like a lamb).

    We aren’t sure if this signs of separation anxiety, or if it’s dominance behavior and we have allowed him to believe he is pack leader and he is upset we are leaving him without him saying it was OK.

    He gets a walk in the am and a walk in the pm and swimming when I get home if it’s hot.

    I did let him sit on my lap (Bad girl, I know, I didn’t know that was bad thing at the time, he’s not allowed to do that anymore). When he did sit on my lap it was up and high above my head.
    He also will try to run us over to get through the doorway first or go up and down stairs.
    He ignores commands he knows. 8 tries to get him to sit/down/stay etc.. He will beg or whine and try to walk around us, anything but do what we are asking. (Not always, but this has been increasing each day).
    He knows there are places he isn’t allowed but deliberately goes back there anyway. He gets yelled at but he doesn’t really seem to care. Or he does.. sorta.. but it isn’t anything to stop him from hoping back over there.

    We also will leave him in the house to go into the garage or get the mail, he doesn’t destroy anything, but starts crying and barking like a mad man. And when we come back into the house he barks at us and jumps up.

    This has all started just in the beginning of June. We are a little dumbfounded and aren’t sure what to do.

    We have started no attention without earning it first, again, 8 tries later..

    I’m scared he’s going to hurt himself by trying to get out of the crate, and I am concerned about his mental health, because I know he’s extremely stressed.

    Help?? Ideas? Anything?



  33. Elizabet Vargas says

    Hello, I have a 1 year old Siberian Husky. He just graduated beginner training. And is doing great!
    However; whenever we take him to the dog park he is a little too rough when playing with the other dogs which always doesn’t work out too well. He is a big alpha dog. But when he’s playing too rough it sometimes ends with the other dogs getting upset. Is there any way to get him to play in a manor that isn’t too rough or frustrates the other dogs? Also, I can’t always tell if he’s just playing or getting aggressive.

  34. kaz says

    Hi there,

    We have 2 boy siberian huskys.We have only recently taken one on two days ago as friends were moving. Our boy Kaizer made his stand the first night and was very dominate being in his own home they had 2 very haunting fights 1 we could break up the other Drew blood from they new boys ear so we separated them for a while. Today they played fine few niggles now and then but is Kaizer just being TOO dominate?? took them for a run and when Kaizer seen Shogun (new boy) being faster he went to attack him. He stands on him and growls, standing over him and bites him were shogun will lie down and then Kaizer will walk off once shogun bows to him. If shogun goes somewhere Kaizer usually sits he’ll go to bite and growl him stand on him etc what’s the best way to treat the situation ?? Thanks as I don’t want shogun to become stressed and nervous

    • shibashake says

      Some things that help keep things friendly with my dogs-
      1. I set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules.
      2. I manage their excitement level.
      3. I supervise closely during play, food, and other times where there may be conflict, so that I can redirect or resolve before they escalate.

      More on what I do to keep the peace at home with my dogs.

      However, given that the dogs are fighting, it is probably best to get help from a good professional trainer so that both people and dogs stay safe. We visited with several trainers when going through a difficult period with our Shiba Inu.

  35. Sally says

    Hi there, need a bit of assistance. We have 2 siberian husky pups, they are sisters from the same litter. They have been good at settling into our home. We have a 6 year old daughter who loves them dearly and they love her. We have now come across a problem, they are both getting jealous. My daughter tries to give them both loving at the same time, but as soon as she is out the way they both attack each other to the point that they have drawn blood several times now. I’m worried that they are going to hurt each other badly or hurt me or my daughter as I can not break up the fight! Is this a phase they will grow out of, or is this something more serious?!!

    • shibashake says

      How old are they? How long have you had them? What kind of training are they used to? What is their routine like? How much daily exercise do they get?

      In cases of aggression, it is usually best to get help from a good professional trainer, especially when there is a young child in the household. Dog behavior is very context dependent, so it is often helpful to have a good trainer visit with the dogs, read their body language, as well as see their routine and environment.

      Some things that I do to help keep the peace at home –
      1. I set up a fixed routine and a consistent set of rules, including clear dog to dog interaction rules.
      2. I supervise them closely during play and food time so that I can manage their excitement level and prevent any conflicts from occurring. If there are any conflicts, I make sure to stop things *before* they escalate into anything serious. While under supervision, I use management equipment such as a flat collar and leashes if needed.
      3. I try to set them up for success. I do group obedience training and make sure to reward them extremely well when they are calm and working together for me. I try to maximize successful together time and minimize negative encounters.
      4. I follow the Nothing in Life is Free program with all of my dogs.
      5. I try to give them many positive outlets to release their energy, e.g. long daily walks, structured games with me, working for their food, etc.

      More on what I do to help my dogs get along.
      More on what I do to retrain my dog’s bad behavior.

  36. Ginny Forbes says

    My sheba that’s a female dominates me when I go to give my mom a goodnight hug and kiss, why is this?(if she’s laying on my dad’s lap when I say goodnight she doesn’t but she watches me.) How can I get her to stop other than having my dad yelling at her?

    • shibashake says

      What exactly do you mean by “dominates” you? Does she show aggression? What exactly does she do? What does your mom do when that happens? What kind of training is she used to? Who mostly trains her? Who mostly feeds and exercises her? Are there rules in the house? What is her routine like? What is your regular daily interaction with her?

  37. Ben says

    I have 3.5 year old male Labrador that has not been neutered. He is a very social able dog who gets a lot of attention. He is around myself or my dad for a majority of the nights, morning, and evenings. He is in a large pen with two other smaller dogs. He does not food guard and for the most parts listens well. He probably gets away with a lot of bad habits like sleeping on the bed with me and begging. I believe he favors my dad and recognizes my dad as the alpha male. Recently my Father was out of town for 12 days so it was just me and my lab. Typically I get home later and the evening and he has been fed and is at my parents house and I take him from there and he usually settles in for the night. Lately, he has begun to growl when I first make contact with him, just petting. The first time I scolded him verbally and he continued to growl and then changed my tone and called him to me and continued to pet him and he was fine the rest of the night. The second night very similar growled, I did not scold him just backed off came back with a different tone. I did however test it out a little. I stared him directly in the eye with a scowl and he would growl and then I would change my tone and demeanor. I tried this a couple times and that was the typical outcome. And again he went home with me and everything was fine. Finally tonight (third time) He didn’t come greet me when I came in he still I called him and fed him a few treats and went about my business eating my dinner. When it was time to go I bent over to pet him and he growled again I sat on the floor and changed my tone and he was fine. It seems like he may be scared or is he challenging me. I am not sure, I have noticed similar behavior with one of the other dog most cases when they see each other he approaches the other dog with his hackles and tale straight up and that dog rolls over very submissive like and they are fine the rest of the day. He has growled and lunged at other dogs on occasion but he is always on the leash and I pull him back and scold him. I would appreciate another perspective and I have tried to provide a lot of case.

    • shibashake says

      Large changes in a dog’s environment and routine, e.g. someone important being away, can create uncertainty and stress for a dog, and this can lead to changes in behavior. Staring down our dog when he is already anxious, can create more uncertainty and stress, and may make him feel more threatened.

      I help my dog by setting up a fixed routine and a consistent set of rules. This helps him to understand what to expect from me, and what I expect from him in return. I further reinforce leadership by making my dog work for the things that he wants most.

      I set my dog up for success by –
      a) Building trust through exercise, play, walks, and more,
      b) Managing his environment and excitement level,
      c) Protecting him from stressful situations that he is not ready to handle.

  38. Etain says

    Hi I have a female husky/border collie mix that is very dominant over the other two dogs I have (male and female) who are both very submissive. She never fights with them but often guards food and snarls if there is food around.

    I think she was actually the runt of the litter! And she will never look me in the eye if I give out to her so I also think she can be a bit of a coward.

    She was never aggressive towards other dogs unless they were in my house then she would get into a fight. Whenever she encounters another dog when I bring all of them out for a run she sticks her back hair up and puts her head down low and looks aggressive however she never used to do anything, her tail would be wagging within a few minutes and she would play with the other dog. This still happens sometimes but she has also started to fight with some of them, i noticed a few months ago she started resting her head on the back of dogs necks in a dominant way, this soon escalated into fights if the other dog didn’t like it.

    She never draws blood from the other dog when she fights but it still looks serious and scary, today she lay completely on top of the other dog and pinned it to the ground and stayed like that for a few minutes. She has met the dog she fought with today before and has never had a problem with it until today, I noticed she was playing with it until I walked up, then she started growling at it and it turned into a fight.

    She fights with boy and girl dogs (sometime I think she thinks she’s a boy as she pees with her leg up against trees?). She always snarling at me when she is excited (she never bites just makes husky noises and snarls) and also she always puts her paw on me as she wants attention a lot.

    I don’t know what to do I feel like I’ve tried everything .eg giving out and smacking her and also I tried being nice and talking to her in a calm voice and petting her when her back hair sticks up but nothing seems to work. she is extremely independent and likes to run off and do what she wants and will not listen to me unless I have treats she will sometimes run back. I Feel so embaressed when she fights other dogs and feel like shes getting worse no matter how hard I try, just wondering if you have any advice, thanks 🙂

    • shibashake says

      Hello Etain,
      As I understand it, aggressive behavior can be the result of many things, including fear. For example, fearful dogs may fight back when they “feel” threatened and do not think they have any other options available. My Huskies are more submissive, and they usually do not like to keep eye contact for long. My Shiba is a more dominant dog, and he is very comfortable with staring back at people.

      Here is a short article from UCDavis on aggression and dominance.

      My Shiba is also very sensitive to my energy and to the energy of the people around him. If I am fearful, stressed, frustrated, or angry, he will pick up on that, get stressed himself, and act even more crazy. He started behaving much better after I started controlling my own energy.

      I help my dogs get along at home by setting up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules, and then slowly teaching them those rules. I try to be calm and very consistent while training them. In this way, they fully understand what to expect from each other, what to expect from me, and what I expect from them. The key with my dogs is to minimize bad experiences and maximize successes. The more calm, positive experiences they have with each other, the more relaxed they become in the future. The opposite is also true.
      More on what I do to help my dogs get along.

      With my Shiba Inu, I also did dog-to-dog desensitization exercises to teach him to be more calm with other dogs.

      I pick my dogs’ friends carefully, supervise them closely during play, manage their excitement level, and try my best to set them up for success. When we were having problems with Shiba, we also visited with several good professional trainers who could observe him interacting with other dogs, and help us develop a plan for retraining. In cases of aggression, it is usually safest to get help from a professional trainer.

  39. Amanda says

    I have a female German Shepherd who, although submissive, friendly, and obedient to humans and male dogs, gets very dominant to other female dogs, no matter their age or whether they are fixed or not. She is extremely playful and gentle with male dogs, children, and other people, but is very unreliable around female dogs. Do you have any suggestions to help overcome or control this dominant behavior towards other female dogs?
    Thank you!

  40. Natalie says

    I have a 9mo old Shiba Inu and currently her training (although still stubborn at times) is going well. My issue and question arises with the interaction when I bring her to visit and play with her mother at my friends house who owns the mother.

    The first meeting that my Shiba and her mother had after seperation was fine, which was still only a week or two after having got her. However now that my Shiba is older, the next interaction the mother was very aggressive dominat toward my Shiba. My Shiba showed complete submission and did not try to defy the dominance yet the mother was agressive to the point the pup yelped and cried out (unsure if this was bc of being hurt or she didn’t like what was going on).
    After this “introductory period” though they played fine but the period lasted for close to 5 minutes.
    Now I would assume this was a one time thing but EVERYtime I bring my Shiba over there is a “introductory period” where the mother has to be so dominant she is very agressive. One of the interactions I brought the mother over to my house where I also own an older Lab mix that is Alpha in the house and the mother Shiba attacked in agressive domminance my Lab to the point after seperating the dogs my Lab was shaking.
    I have spoken with my friend the owner of the mother mentioning I think perhaps the mother Shiba and her pup that I own may need to be more familiar for this aggression to stop. But I have been told that the mother has displayed this before to the other pups in the litter (as they were all adopted by friends of the owner of the Mother) as well as other female and alpha dogs. Yet when you bring the mother to the dog park she is perfectly composed and no issues that I am aware of.
    I recently found out the mother can become so agressive that she receltly bit the husband of the owner.
    My question is: should I continue to bring my Shiba around her mother if she is going to be that agressive in dominance to her initially despite being told “no” and “stop”? I understand displaying some dominance is normal but the extent of the aggression is not anything I have found “normal” with any dog(s) I’ve owned and I’ve had dogs all my life/growing up (though this is my first time owning a Shiba). My other question is, aside pointing the owners to the suggestions on the site, because I’m not sure what they do at home in training and such with the mother, as well as I don’t want to tell them what to do or how to train their dog, what would you suggest about this situation since the problem is regarding another persons dog? I’m concerned if I step on toes it could cause a major issue so hoping to handle this in best way.
    Looking for help w another’s dog

    • shibashake says

      Hello Natalie,

      In terms of socialization, I pick my dogs’ playmates carefully and I only let them meet or play with dogs that I know they will be successful with. I want to maximize successes so that they will gain confidence around other dogs, and learn to associate other dogs with play and positive events. This is not always possible, as sometimes, there are loose dogs in my neighborhood and we have gotten charged a bunch of times, but I try my best.
      Here is a bit more on my dog socialization experiences.

      In terms of someone else’s dog, I generally do not give opinions, advice, or anything else unless asked to. Even then, I try to be very careful because in my experience, people do not like hearing anything even mildly negative about their kids or dogs. On my site I write about experiences with my own dogs, but even then, there are a bunch of people who get angry because what I write does not fully agree with their own view of the World.

      I believe that the desire for change must come from the people themselves, when they are ready. I do, however, have control of my own actions, so I choose my dogs’ friends carefully, and at other times, we just avoid.

      Just my opinion though. Big hugs to your furry gang! 😀

  41. Steph says

    I have a question– We have had a 14 month old female Aussie since she was a puppy. She sounds a lot like your Shiba- tests the limits all the time. She has been through a ton of obedience training, but she still acts up around other dogs. She has never been agressive to the point that she has physically hurt another dog, she is very playful and has a ton of energy. We rescued a male Border Collie/Newfoundland mix (hes about 20 months old) mix about 2 weeks ago and I think she is having some trouble adjusting. When we let them outside my Aussie jumps and bites at the scruff of my new dog- she doesn’t give up. I can’t get her to leave him alone, she always did this at daycare and also when we visit the dog park. I also know this is a typical Aussie behavior. I have been able to control the behavior inside, but when she goes outside, its a different story. I have tried drag lines, spray bottles, nothing is working. I have also tried using a high value treat and having her “train” while he is outside. This works, but as soon as I go in, she’s back at it again….Help!

    • shibashake says

      With my dogs, I set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules. I supervise during play, manage their excitement level, and make sure everyone follows the rules.

      I have a three legged dog, so I do not allow rough play with her, and I do not allow my other dogs to chase her. I always supervise when she is involved in play. I do not leave her outside unsupervised, with another dog.

      Here is more on what I do while introducing a new dog.

      My dogs are very good at observation. If they see that they can get away with certain behaviors when I am not around, then they will wait until I am not there to do it.

      For example, Husky Lara likes to dig. When left alone in the backyard, she will sometimes start to dig, especially if she smells earth critter activity. To train her not to dig, I leave her outside, but I make sure to watch from inside the house. As soon as I notice the digging behavior, I no-mark, and go out to stop her if necessary. If she keeps digging, she loses outside privileges.

      I was very consistent about this during the training period, and she learned that even when I am not there, I am still supervising her. To stop the behavior, I have to make sure to consistently catch it every time, and to be able to stop it quickly, before she gets rewarded for it (for example by catching a mouse, or starting a fun game). If every time she tries to dig, I stop the behavior and she doesn’t get anything, it becomes a very unrewarding behavior.

      At the same time, I give her other outlets for her digging energy. I take her to places where she can dig, and we also have an un-landscaped section in the backyard where she can dig.

  42. Tina says

    I have an almost 11 years old German Shepperd/Malamute mix, I live with my friend who has a 3 years old Russian Toy Terrier. They’re the best of friends.

    Our problem is that our friend is moving in with us and her dogs are untrained dominant and aggressive.

    She has one 3 years old female Chinese Shar-Pei, she can play with our dogs and go lay down relax and some hours later just get up and go for the throat on the other dogs. In general she’s calm and submissive to us, but not people she doesn’t know she’s not very trusting.

    She also has an 2 years Boerboel. He used to be playful now he’s becoming aggressive and dominant and we can’t get our dogs to get along. I’ve trained my dog rigorously through the years after he had problems getting along with other dogs after being attacked and hurt.
    So I can handle him and calm him down and usually get him to get along with other big male dominant dogs if I have to.
    But my friend never trained her dog and he’s becoming dangerous, challenging everything and staring back at any command, he’s very food fixated and I’m worried he’s going to attack even people when they take it away from him soon.

    We can’t make him even walk calmly beside my dog without him trying to pull off his leash and try to get into a fight.
    I feel that I can’t create a safe environment for them to get along when he’s getting aggressive just by the sight of my dog, and my dog responds to that but even after trying many times his owner can’t calm him down and get him out of attacking state. Do you have any tips on how I can handle the situation and what we should do? I know my post is messy but I’m just in over my head and don’t know what to do, I don’t want to come home and find either of the dogs dead on the floor from a fight.
    Please help, my dog is already old from age even though it doesn’t show very well, I don’t want to inflict a stressful dangerous environment on him.
    Please help

    • shibashake says

      With my dogs, I set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules. I supervise new, in-training dogs carefully, and slowly teach them what my house rules are. I *do not* allow my dogs to physically correct each other. If there are conflicts, I deal with it early, before it escalates, which is why supervision is key.

      If I am unable to supervise, I keep my dogs safely separated, until I am *absolutely sure* that there will be no problems.

      Given what you describe, it is probably best to get help from a good professional trainer.

  43. Gwen says

    Hey! I have a few questions! I have a two year old male chocolate lane who is EXTREMLY dominant. With other dogs, if they do something they know is bad and you say their name, they kinda slink away, he does not. He stands tall and square, looks you in the eye and continues. Tonight, I told him to go in his kennel for bed time, and he stood there looking at me. I walked towards him to lead him by his collar, not angry or anything, and he snapped at me. He has never bitten anyone or hardly ever growled at anyone. He continued to growl at me, teeth bared. This is very weird for him, he is a very docile dog, even though he is dominant. He is also EXTREMLY food aggressive. Not to a point of biting us, but we just steer clear while he’s eating. He gets very rigid and eats quickly, moving so you are unable to get by him towards his food. But we’ve never taken his food. Hew as the biggest in his litter. Please help. I have a little brother who plays with him a lot and I don’t want him getting hurt. What do I do?

  44. Danielle McDaris says

    Last month my family and I, along with our two dogs moved into an RV. Recently, our female (German Shorthair Pointer/Greyhound mix) has been “staring down” & attacking our male (German Shorthair Pointer/Beagle mix). We seperate them when they are being fed and try to seperate them so they can have their space. Sombra (female) is larger than Eddie (male) & is also dominant. We have had Eddie for 6 years & adopted Sombra 2 years ago. They are roughly three years apart. Most of the time they play or sleep near each other, but lately Sombra has been very mean to Eddie. We take them to a park nearby where they run and play. Please help!! We love them both very much but it’s a big problem!!

    • shibashake says

      Moving can be very stressful for both people and dogs, especially if there is now less space. When I moved, I quickly set up a routine and consistent set of rules for my dogs. This creates certainty, which helps to reduce stress. It also helps them to understand what to expect from each other, what to expect from the people in the house, and what I expect from them in return.

      More on what I do to help my dogs get along.

      I also increased the length of my Shiba Inu’s daily walks so he had a good positive outlet to release his stressful energy.

      Dog behavior is very context dependent though, so the temperament and environment of the dogs matter a lot. In cases of aggression, it can be especially helpful to consult with a good professional trainer. I visited with several when I was having difficulties with my Shiba.

  45. Cecille says

    Dear Shiba expert,

    I’ve been reading up on your Shiba blog and I’ve been trying to get your expertise on something.

    I recently adopted two Shibas, about a month ago. They were brothers from the same litter, are both 1.5 years of age, but with drastically different personalities. One of them, besides being food obsessed and having the occasional accident is the perfect pet. He doesn’t whine, doesn’t poo in his kennel, gets along well with my Lab, and will approach and be nice to every dog and human he ever meets.

    The other one, however, is an absolute TERROR. He is ferocious with my lab, and is aggressive towards any foreign thing that he sees, whether it be human, squirrel, cat, or dog. When he sees said foreign objects, he will do the infamous SHIBA SCREAM, over and over and over again and will absolutely not stop and possibly try to attack said foreign object. He also cannot be crated. The first few days with us, he did not whine, but that was before he developed an attachment to us. After that, he always does the infamous SHIBA SCREAM. Over and over again. Nothing could deter this dog. He does not tire, his brother’s company in the crate does not comfort him, and toys or bones do not soothe him. He will scream 24/7. The extent of his separation anxiety is beyond explanation.

    However, inside, he is a really sweet dog. He gives hugs and kisses incessantly and is not aggressive towards me and my family. We all love him to pieces too. However, I don’t know how much longer my family or the neighbors can take the SHIBA SCREAM. I want to take responsibility for adopting him and don’t want to separate him from his brother, but I am honestly at a loss for what to do.


    • shibashake says

      Heh, I am no Shiba expert. I actually had a very difficult time with my Shiba in the beginning, which is why I started this site to write about our experiences.

      In terms of separation anxiety, Sephy had some of it in the beginning. I helped him get over it by very slowly getting him used to alone time. I first start with very very short periods of alone time (a few seconds) and I slowly build it up from there. Here is a bit more on what I did.

      Sephy sleeps with us at night in the bedroom. Being close to us and being able to see us really helped him to settle down, especially in the beginning.

      Here is a bit more on how I got Sephy comfortable with his crate.

  46. Vishakha says

    I hand raised my dogsince she was just 5 days old (did it wrong, didnt set rules etc ) . she became very very dominant agressive , attacked me for silly reasons , I got professional help and she has never growled/attacked me since.INfact she is a GREAT DOG , but only around me . put her around my mom(whos pretty soft ) and its disastrous. Also when Im sleeping she sits by my bed and gaurds me one can enter the room . If shes sleeping in the room ( any room) she growls at anyone who enters excluding me . So shes prefect with me. How do react when she growls at others ? I say no and she stops , but Im not always in the room or in the house .

  47. Emma says


    My parents just moved to Bali down the road from where my uncle lives (we are originally from Australia). About two weeks ago, my uncle found three puppies being attacked by the side of the road and started to care for them. He later found out that they had been taken from a man who stole them to sell to the government for $7.50 each, and he had them tied by the neck to the handle of his motorbike.

    The dogs all look completely different, but the vet said they were from the same litter. There are 2 boys and 1 girl. The girl is very aggressive and dominant, while one boy is the runt and quite small, and the other boy is very quiet and just sleeps all the time. The girl has begun to fight the two boys a lot in the last few days. Just today, she attacked the quiet boy and bit his neck, we had to spray her with a hose to get her to stop. If we pat one of the boys, she will push through so we can pat her. She steals all of their food and whatever toy they have. She even sits on them. The boys are starting to learn to fight back but they aren’t as big or strong.

    I have read a few articles saying that we should treat her as the dominant dog and give her her food first etc but it sounds very unfair. My uncle is keeping two of the puppies to be guard dogs (the girl will obviously be very good at it, not so much the quiet one) and my parents will be keeping the runt who will hopefully be a bit of a guard dog. The articles have said that 99% of the time the dogs will only fight in the presence of the owners, but that isn’t the case with these puppies.

    I’m very scared that the girl will severely hurt the other two as they are much smaller than her and have less energy. None of the puppies are going to be inside dogs and sleep/eat outside. Could you please give us some advice on what to do? We haven’t even been able to teach them their names yet or any other commands so it’s very difficult.

    Thank you so much!

    • shibashake says

      Hello Emma,

      For such aggression issues, it is usually best to get help from a professional trainer. This will help ensure the safety of all the people as well as the dogs.

      I have a three legged dog, so in my house I set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules. I *do not* allow any bullying, stealing, or other anti-social behavior. I also set up a fixed routine and clear boundaries so that my dogs understand what I expect from them and what they can expect from me.

      Here is an article on how I trained my Husky puppy.

      Here is a bit more on how I teach my dogs to get along.

      Here is more on how dogs learn.

      Note however, that dog behavior is very dependent on temperament and surrounding context. My dogs are companion dogs. They can stay in the house or go outside as they please, but most of the time they prefer to stay inside with the family. They get daily walks and structured exercise, and they are with me most of the time. Each situation is different, which is why in cases of aggression, it is usually best to consult with a professional trainer.

      Here are some articles on dominance from the ASPCA, the APDT, and Dr. Sophia Yin.

      Here is a bit more on guard dogs.

  48. vibhu says

    Hi, I am from India. I owned two dogs 1. rottweiler F, 3yrs 2. Lab mix M, 3.5 yrs.
    last year i picked up a stray female dog and brought her home now 18 months old.
    all the three dogs had gelled quite well together, however lately i have been noticing a very dominant behaviour in the stray. She growls and bites the Rottwieler whenever the rott tries to come near me. She doesnot do the same in case of the male dog.
    i am now trying to keep her(the stray) tied during the day hoping it will ease down the aggression.
    Otherwise she is extremely active till the level of being hyper.

    PLease suggest some help

    • shibashake says

      One common reason for conflicts between dogs is because of resources. When both dogs want the same thing at the same time, and neither is willing to back down, then a conflict will arise. This may occur over food and toys, but it may also occur over affection or attention from us.

      What helps with my dogs is to set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules, especially rules over resources. When there are valued resources around, I make sure to supervise so that I can prevent conflicts or deal with them before they escalate into aggression.

      I also manage my dogs’ excitement levels by using play-breaks. Here is more on what I do with my dogs to help them get along.

      Tethering a dog for long periods of time, especially without supervision, can often lead to aggression. Here is why. Another article on tethering.

    • BanditSmokeyTebo says

      First and Foremost, I want to ask, are you showing them equal attention??? That could be one of the main reasons why she does that. Second, you must correct it immediately cause that can turn into a big fight. Seperating them when you are not home is a great idea, preferably a crate not being leashed up. Remember all dogs live as a pack so do not disrupt their pack stance as alpha and beta. But do correct the unnecessary behavior right away.

  49. Vanessa says

    I recently rescued Joey-a male (fixed) boarder collie/mix, about 1-2 years old. I also rescued another at the same time, a cattle dog/mix, who is only 6 months old, and allows Joey to be dominant at home. Joey knows he cannot be dominant over humans, and this is not at all an issue. However, only recently I’ve noticed him wanting to be dominant over other dogs, mostly males. The first incident was over a Frisbee.. another dog went to take it from Joey and it turned into a growling/wrestle fight (no bites, thank god- but it definitely was not playful). Since then he growls at other dogs and will be a bully, especially at the dog park. He gets alone fine with small dogs and others who submit, but not well with others who also want to be dominant. He put his head over another dog’s shoulders before but I very quickly removed him from the situation. I’ve been stricter with him at home and I thought he was doing better… but today I took him back to the park and there was a very dominant dog there (Doberman/mix) and the two did not get along at all… this one put his head on Joey’s shoulders which got Joey worked up. I am meeting with a trainer specialized on aggression/dominance this week but I was hoping someone could give me a few tips on dog-only dominance in the meantime. Keep in mind, it’s selective dominance- some dogs he has no problem with, others it’s an instant dominant issue.

  50. Melodie says


    I have a female cinnamon colored Chow-Chow. Up till last year, I had a black female chow as well. Eventually, I ended up having to separate them due to very vicious fighting. Unfortunately, the black chow chow has recently passed away (this past October). We have other dogs as well, a male her size (American Eskimo) whom she gets along splendidly with and a few smaller dogs whom she’s shown no ill feelings too. We recently (about three months ago) got a female Pekingese whom she has just recently started to fight with. I thought the aggression would have stopped when my black chow passed away (not due to fighting) and thought I was in the clear. I do think that it is a dominance issue, because the fighting always occurs when I’m around. It’s not often, but it’s scary and am afraid for the Peke. My chow knows “I’m BOSS” and does listen once I separate the fighting, but not until.

    Is there any help you can give me? Any tips? Thank you!


    • shibashake says

      Some things that help with my dogs-
      1. I set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules that I slowly teach to each new dog. For example, there is no-stealing, no-humping, and I *do not* allow my dogs to correct each other. I supervise them very closely, especially when there is a new dog around, so that I can teach puppy what the rules are. If there are any conflicts, I will resolve them in a fair and consistent way. Supervision is very important because it allows me to redirect and stop behavior, before the situation escalates into a fight.

      2. I manage my dogs’ excitement level by using play-breaks, teaching them impulse control, and giving them many structured outlets for their energy.

      3. I create as many positive experiences as I can between my dogs and the new puppy so that they see her as an enhancement to their lifestyle, rather than as a competitor or an annoyance.

      Here is more on what I do while introducing a new dog.

      For fights and more serious cases of aggression, it is usually best to get help from a good professional trainer.

  51. Lise says

    Thanks for the great information! I have a 17 month old bull mastiff/african mastiff/ & possibly we think pitt bull. Henry has been fabulous except recently he has been going up to other males and resting his head over their neck…this has not been well received as you can imagine! I should have mentioned that Henry has not yet been fixed. Other than stopping him from going up to other males how can I stop this behavior? I want to get us back to hiking our local mountains but as it stands right now Henry is getting himself into too much trouble!
    Thank you!

    • shibashake says

      Dogs repeat behaviors that get them good results and stop behaviors that get them bad results.

      Some behaviors, such as humping, are self rewarding. For example, my Husky Lara likes to hump. Every successful hump she does, she gets rewarded by it simply because she was able to do it. Therefore, the more she does it, the more the behavior gets reinforced, and the more likely she will do it in the future.

      To stop her, I must make sure that she *never* gets rewarded for the behavior, i.e. never succeeds in humping another dog. I always stop her as soon as I notice her getting into humping position. She usually does this during play, so I stop play briefly, and get her to do some commands. In this way, she has a chance to calm down and refocus on me. If she keeps going back to humping, then I calmly say timeout and put her in a timeout area (temporarily).

      During walks, I have her on-leash. If she misbehaves badly during walks (e.g. leash bites, eats poop), then I end the walk and march her home. Later on, we may try again. In this way, she learns that-

      No humping = Play time and walk time continues,
      Humping and other bad behaviors = Play time stops or walk ends.

      Another possibility is to train a really strong recall. Here is a good list of recall training techniques from the ASPCA.

      Here is more on how dogs learn.

  52. Carlota says

    Hello:d I recently got a chow puppy(3weeks ago) and I have done a lot of research on his breed and training and so forth. But lately Mustang(puppy) has been showing some dominant behavior. He won’t let people correct him when he bites shoes, he won’t let us pet him if he is not in the mood. Butt hats pretty much it. I want to stop this behavior before it gets hectic. We do training daily and trick learning too. What should I do?
    Thank you for your time

    • shibashake says

      I had a similar experience with my Shiba Inu. I started out with aversive training techniques, including alpha rolls, leash corrections, and more. Sephy seemed to respond well to it at first, but then after a bit of time, his behavior worsened. He became very sensitive to handling and he would fight back whenever he got punished.

      I realized that he was not responding well to the aversive methods that I was using.

      What worked well with Sephy is to establish a consistent set of rules and a fixed routine. I stopped using aversive methods, and used the Nothing in Life is Free program instead to achieve pack leadership.

      For example, Sephy used to like biting on curtains. When he does that, I no-mark the behavior and then body block him away from the area. Then I get him to do something else. If he keeps going back to bite on the living room curtains, then he loses his privileges to roam freely in the living room and has to stay with me while I work in the kitchen or computer room. Sephy loves his freedom to roam, so it is a very valuable resource to him. Once he learned that-

      Biting curtains = Less freedom to roam,
      Biting chew toys = Play, attention, and more freedom to roam,

      he stopped biting on curtains. 😀

      More on how dogs learn and the pros and cons of different dog obedience training methods.

  53. Rose says

    Hi!!! We are in need of help! My fiancee has a 3 year old black lab and I have a 3 year old Pomeranian and a 1 year old golden retriever. We are going to get married in 2 weeks and we decided to introduce our dogs in our new home that my fiancee has been living for a couple of days with his dog.

    As soon as the three met the black lab immediately went to the golden to smell and started to mark territory. As we went inside the house the lab became more dominant and aggressive. My dog was extremely submissive and was really scared. Obviously that was when my tension and fear started rising and we decided to leave the black lab outside the house and the other two inside.

    We knew the lab was a very dominant dog, but we didn’t think it would turn into aggression at other dogs that weren’t trying to be dominant towards him. He had met my Pomeranian a year ago and they got along very well. He never showed signs of dominance of aggression towards the Pom it was only to my golden.

    I really don’t want to live in fear for my dogs safety and we love them all very much and would like to live all together peacefully. Please help me to understand how we can control our labs intermale aggression Thank you!!

    • shibashake says

      Given that there is aggression, it is probably best to get help from a professional trainer so that everybody stays safe.

      Some things that help my dogs get along-
      1. I set up clear and strict dog-to-dog interaction rules. In the beginning, I supervise to make sure everyone follows the rules. In this way, each dog knows what to expect from the others.
      2. My Shiba Inu is more picky when it comes to greetings, so I make sure the new dog does not disturb him when he does not want to be disturbed. He also has his own space that he can go to.
      3. I create as many positive experiences as I can, so that my existing dogs will learn that the new dog is not a threat and is actually a big positive. I do group obedience sessions, properly supervise play sessions, etc. I try to maximize positive experiences and minimize negative encounters.

      Here is more on what I do to introduce a new dog.

      I also try to stay very calm and positive. My dogs are very sensitive to my emotions. If I am fearful, they will pick up of that, become stressed themselves, and their behavior will worsen.

      However, each dog is different and each situation is different, so in cases of aggression, it is best to get help from a professional.

  54. Hillary says

    Hi, I have a border collie/mix with something I’m not sure of. He was a stray that showed up a about a year and a half ago. Well, I’ve been dating my bf since right after I got my dog and there have never really been any problems. My dog was abandoned and so now, he has abandonment issues. My boyfriend gets up and goes to work at 6 every morning and i usually sleep in until 10 before work. A couple of days ago my boyfriend was looking for his clothes in the dark, using the light of his phone, and my dog suddenly got up to attack him. Backed him up into a corner and everything. And I didn’t think anything of it except maybe my boyfriend startled my dog and my dog was just being protective of me. But I thought, my dog has snapped once or twice and I blamed that before on rough housing with him too hard. So decided to call the vet and have him neutered, which will take place tomorrow, hoping that would calm him down. But this morning, my boyfriend went to give me a hug and a kiss and my dog suddenly attacked him again. Didn’t bite him. But had him backed up into a corner again until I got to my dog. He is a little bit aggressive towards strangers, and I usually blame that on being protective of me since I ‘rescued’ him. And usually when my dog does something he’s not supposed to, I put him in his place by grabbing him and putting him down on the ground and holding him there with my knee on his neck until he calms down and submits. If he does it again, I’m worried that it might be worse and my dog will actually bite my boyfriendeven though my boyfriend backs up. Could this be a result of maybe the way the previous owners treated him? Or is he just being protective or showing dominance? I don’t want to have to put my dog down because he’s too aggressive and can’t be controlled. He’s really a sweet dog when he’s not feeling threatened.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Hillary,

      Here are a couple of articles on dominance and aggression-
      1. Aggression and Dominance in Dogs (UC Davis).
      2. Dominance and bad dog behavior.

      Re Helping my dogs get along with people:
      Two key things that help with my dogs-
      1. Creating a bond – My partner walks a dog in the morning, and also walks them during the weekends. He feeds them in the morning, and I do the feeding in the evening. He also plays with them, grooms them, and we do the training together. We agree on the house rules, and make sure we use consistent techniques to train them. In this way, our dogs create a bond with the both of us, and sees us both as part of their family.

      2. People desensitization exercises – I also do people desensitization exercises with my dogs so that they learn to view other people in a positive way, and also learn what to do when they meet people. Dogs do not know our human greeting rules, they do not know that we have thin skins, and they do not know our language. Therefore, it is up to us to teach them these things. Desensitization helps my dogs to be comfortable around people, and to use alternative behaviors for coping with stress when they feel threatened.

      The most important part with desensitization is to *always* start with a very weakened version of the stimulus, weak enough that our dog can tolerate it without losing control. With people, I can weaken the stimulus by using distance and making sure that the person is calm and totally ignoring my dog (no talking and no eye-contact). In this way, I can start to teach my dog new behaviors to use when in the proximity of people, and also to reassociate people with positive outcomes.

      Re Pinning a dog down until he submits:

      This is also called an alpha roll. It was something that I did with my Shiba Inu (Sephy) when he was younger and unfortunately, we did not have good results. Sephy became very sensitive to handling, he grew distrustful of people, he felt more threatened, and used aggression even more to protect himself. Here is a bit more on our experiences with the alpha roll.

      Later on, I discovered that this technique is very risky and can cause increased aggression in dogs.

      Professional help:

      Given what you describe, it sounds like it may be best to get some help from a professional trainer. Dog training is very context dependent, and a dog’s behavior depends a lot on his temperament, routine, environment, past experience, and more. To come up with an effective retraining plan, we want to identify the source or triggers of a dog’s aggression, and this is best done by a trainer who can meet with and observe our dog.

  55. Kimmi K says

    We have a 4 year old (1/2 Catahoula & 1/2 Plott Hound). She’s (Clyde) very dominant! And we are thinking about taking in our neighbors dog – who has been left behind twice. She (Ginger) is the sweetest craziest dog (we think part Jack Russell & who know’s what else). But she is dominant as well. Clyde will rip Ginger apart & we want them to get along. Clyde is very protective of our home & land. She really doesn’t get along with any other dogs – so far. Any other suggestions?

    • shibashake says

      Clyde will rip Ginger apart

      For more serious types of aggression, it is best and safest to get help from a professional trainer.

      In general, systematic desensitization exercises can be used to raise a dog’s instinct threshold, and teach him new and alternative ways for dealing with the stress of meeting other dogs. This is best done under the direction of a good trainer.

      I would retrain my existing dog first, and *not* introduce any big changes into his routine (e.g. a new dog) until I have the aggression under control.

  56. Lindsey says

    Hi! I was wondering if you could help me with some advice on my female siberian. She will be a year on May 17th. We don’t have any problems with aggression whatsoever, thankfully. However, I am afraid my girl is an alpha and I am worried it may be too late to break her. She will hump on me and other dogs frequently and I will tell her firmly to step, yet she still continues. She also will go in the garbage and I will catch her in the act and tell her to step, but she will stare at me and run away quickly with the garbage. She also will “punch” with her paws and demand play time and attention. She jumps up on everyone and the biggest problem is the house breaking! She was house broken completely at 10 weeks with no accident. Then she got a urinary tract infection and began going in the house. The urinary infection was treated immediately, yet she still continues to poop/urinate in the house multiple times a day even though she is let out constantly and I watch her go to the bathroom. I have her in an obedience class, but it isn’t helping the alpha behaviors. My girl is very smart and can sit, shake both paws, stay, down, and crawl; which is what the trainer in the class focuses on. I feel like I have spent endless amounts of money and time and nothing is working. I love my husky very much but it is very taxing on me until this problem is corrected.



    • shibashake says

      Re Saying ‘Stop’:
      In the beginning, the word “Stop” will mean very little to our dog. For it to have meaning, we will need to associate it with a consequence that means something to our puppy. Here is a bit more on “Stop” words and how I communicate with my Husky puppy.

      Re Punching and demanding attention:
      Dogs will repeat behaviors that get them good results and stop behaviors that get them undesirable results. Dogs often jump and punch because when they do that, we usually give them our attention. We may try to push them away, shout at them, move around, and more. All this moving around will likely get our dog more excited, and think that it is a fun game.

      What has worked well with my dogs is to withdraw my attention when they jump or bite.

      Here is a bit more on how I train my dogs not to jump on people.
      Here is a bit more on how dogs learn.

      Re Potty training:
      I would go back to potty training basics. Here are some things that I did to potty train my Husky puppy.

      Re Dog dominance:
      A bit more on dominance and bad dog behavior.

  57. Colette Hall says

    I wonder if you can help me.

    I have a 3 year old german spitz called Poppy, and I think she sees herself as alpha over my two youngest children – they are 4 and 8. She will let them walk her if I am not with them (if I am, she will bark constantly and keep looking to me) – we have a park next to the house that they go to. My main concern is that she growls and sometimes snaps at them. She is nervous about some things – she will outright attack the vacuum cleaner- I generally prompt her to leave the room when using it now. But the kids cant bring toys through on the floor, she will attack the toys. If she has a treat, they cannot go anywhere near her – even if she is in her crate with it ( where her bed is) she will growl. What can I do to get across that she is not alpha? Or what can I get the kids to do? I am worried that she will at some point go too far.

  58. john boyle says

    Can you help me ? I have a 12st Newfoundland Dog who is 3 years old. He has overtime (6 months or so) decided that he wont walk with me or some other family members.He uses his weight (hits the floor and wont move) until I head for home. How can I overcome this behavior ?



    • shibashake says

      Hello John,

      A common reason why a dog may want to stay home instead of going on walk is because of anxiety. Did something happen during his walks when the change in behavior started? Previously, did he enjoy going on walks? Does he have the same walk routine? Is there a particular place where he always sits and won’t move?

      When my dog has an issue with anxiety, I first try to locate the source of his stress. I look at commonalities in the environment, time-line, and more to identify what triggers his unexpected behavior. Once I identify the triggers for his behavior, then I can desensitize him to those triggers in a controlled and structured way. This teaches him new ways to cope with his stress, helps to build confidence, and also retrains him to associate a previously “bad trigger” with positive outcomes.

      Here is a bit more on dog anxiety problems.

      There are other reasons why a dog may stop and not want to move during walks, e.g. they want to watch people or other dogs, they want to sniff at something in a particular spot, they want to go in a different direction, etc. I always try observe my dog carefully so that I know where the change in behavior comes from. Once I know the source, I can come up with an appropriate plan to target the root of the problem, and change it for the long-term.

  59. Wendy says

    I have a 15 month old Labrador/Rottweiler dog. I am very confused as to what behaviour he is displaying. I do not know if it is dominance or fear. He is a lovely boy in the house he never leaves my side but when we go out for walks he seems to be a different dog. He becomes stressed at walking around corners and has on one occasion growled at someone coming around a corner in the opposite direction. He jumps at leaves moving and gets very stressed on a windy day! He Isin’t interested in being stroked by people outside and if someone attempts to stroke him or talk to him he will growl at them. I have spoke to a dog behaviour specialist and he seems to think that he is fiercely protective over me. Please help!

    • shibashake says

      Hmmm, how does he respond when people try to give him affection while in the house? How does he respond to house guests? Does he show similar behavior when he is walked by somebody else? Did this behavior just start or has he been this way from the beginning? Did anything change when the behavior first started?

      Dogs can get fearful or uncertain about new objects, new people, or new environments. New things are unknown, and may turn out to be dangerous. Socializing a dog to new objects, people, and experiences in a positive, structured, and supervised way, can help to build confidence and reduce stress.

      My youngest Husky was a bit fearful of people and new objects when she was young. She was especially wary of people on bicycles and skateboards. We were able to help her with her stress through desensitization exercises.

      Here is a bit more on dog anxiety and fears.

  60. Lilly says

    Hello, I have been reading some of your posts and I can see you’re very knowledgeable on the subject of dog dominance, so I would like to ask for your advice.

    My neighbor’s dog (a Border Terrier mix) has always been very aggressive and territorial, getting help from said neighbor has never been possible. His dogs pee, sleep and mark (with their paws) places on various blocks away from their house, including our house and lawn.

    Months ago the dog began to follow me barking and growling, at first I wasn’t afraid, but seeing he was increasingly aggressive made me more and more scared, as soon as I saw he was there I moved to the other side of the street but he always followed me barking, then last week he ran towards me barking, he kept circling around me, almost about to jump, and even if I said his name he didn’t calm down, I simply couldn’t approach my house.
    I was absolutely terrified, the neighbors stood there staring and finally when he backed a bit I went to my house, I grabbed a small pot with water and threw it at him, he ran away very quickly and it didn’t even touch him, but he kept barking from a distance.

    I even got ill from the shock, I know I shouldn’t have been scared, but I’ve always been afraid of dogs and this was a trigger.

    So now I’m wondering, what am I going to do next week when I have to return from school?
    A long time ago my mother told him “no” when he was about to follow my brother, that seemed to make him go mad, because he didn’t stop barking for some good 15 minutes, so I don’t know if saying “no” would be a good option, also, I’m thinking about carrying a bottle of water in case he becomes aggressive again, Do you think that would be a bad idea?, or should I just keep walking and stand still if things escalate?

    Thanks for reading this.

    • shibashake says

      It sounds like it may be best to get help from your parents or relatives. Perhaps they can have a talk with the neighbors, or failing that, get help from the local animal care and control agency.

    • Lilly says

      Thank you for replying.
      Well, talking to the neighbors is out of the question because it has been done before and they kind of feel proud that their dog is that way.
      There’s a German Shepard across the street, he’s behind a gate, the Terrier goes there EVERY SINGLE MORNING to bark at that other dog, the owner just stands there laughing, he thinks it’s hilarious that his tiny dog is not scared of the other one.
      About 4 months ago the German Shepard killed one of said neighbor’s dog, and he still thinks it’s funny! He has seen his dog run towards me and just carries on with whatever he is doing, if I ask for help, he giggles!
      As for an animal care place, there’s no such a thing in this country. When the German Shepard killed yet another dog (about two years ago) we tried to get the police involved because the owner said he couldn’t do anything about it because his dog knew how to open the gate.
      This has been going on for years as you can see, everybody lets their dogs do whatever they want, and nobody cares what happens to them.
      I don’t want to turn this into some emo letter, but really, my mom’s response was “Oh, yeah, I heard the dog barking like a maniac, and because of the time it was I knew it was you who was outside” and yet she couldn’t be bothered to go out to try to help me…
      So yes, I’m in trouble.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Lilly,

      It sounds like a difficult situation. Does your mom know that the dog is charging at you and not just barking? It may help to explain that the dog is escalating his behavior, since your mom may not know the whole situation. Is there a relative, such as an aunt or an uncle, or a teacher, that can also help with this?

      In general, I do not try to confront or engage with off-leash neighborhood dogs. I also do not give them eye-contact, which can be seen as an invitation to interact, or as a threatening gesture, similar to when a stranger stares at us.

      I have also been charged by off-leash dogs before, but luckily, there are usually people around who help to secure the dog. Off-leash dogs are really a people issue. A good long-term solution will likely require getting people involved.

  61. JOEL says


    • shibashake says

      Hello Joel,

      Since I was not there to see things as they unfolded, it is difficult for me to say what actually contributed to the behavior.

      However, most of the enclosed dog parks that I have been to, are unstructured and have very little supervision. Many of the visitors are focused on chatting, and are less interested in managing their dogs. As a result, a dog may pick up bad habits from observing other dogs, may get overwhelmed during play, and may get into altercations with other dogs.

      In the end, we decided that Sephy (our Shiba Inu) would do much better in smaller and more structured play groups, where there is much more human supervision. In this situation, I am in control and can use his desire to play with other dogs, as a way to teach him good behaviors.

  62. Laura says

    Hi, Thanks for the great advice. I’m hoping I can further pick your brain. We have a male pit who has some issues. He came from a home where they may have tried to teach him to fight, is dog aggressive with other dogs except ours (a female pit and a female chihuahua mix), is pushy, rambunctious and, growls at my daughter at times (she’s 23 yrs old and was his previous co-owner). I have spent so much money on trainers and although he has improved somewhat, I’m still struggling with him – especially when out on walks (he gets riled up really easy when he sees other dogs and even remembers some of the houses where dogs have barked when we’ve walked by) and I don’t like that he growls at my daughter. I would soooooooooo appreciate any tips you could provide. Thanks so much. Laura

    • shibashake says

      I have spent so much money on trainers and although he has improved somewhat, I’m still struggling with him

      What type of training have you tried wrt. his dog-to-dog aggression? What was his response?

      I do not have experience with retraining a fighting dog, and can only speak to my experiences with my own dogs.

      In terms of dog reactivity issues, what has helped with my own dogs are-
      1. Structured and well-managed desensitization exercises.

      2. Creating neutral experiences with other dogs.

      3. Setting them up for success. For example, I only expose them to situations and environments that I know they can handle. We first leash train in the backyard where there are no distractions. Then, we start walking in very quiet parts of the neighborhood. We drive to a quiet place if necessary.

      I find that it is best to keep my dogs below their reactivity threshold, by managing their environment. The more a dog practices aggressive behaviors in the presence of other dogs, the more likely he will repeat the behavior in the future.

      Therefore, I am careful about managing their surroundings, so that they only have positive or neutral experiences with other dogs. This helps them to build confidence, and to reassociate other dogs with something positive.

      However, my dogs do not have to get over a difficult past. Given what you describe, I would only do training under the direction of a good, positive-based professional trainer; preferably one who has extensive prior experience with rehabilitating dogs that have been taught to fight.

  63. bronwyn says

    I have a pitbull male at about 11months old.we got him a friend,female pitbull/lab mix at 8 weeks old, we put them together and all went well , its been a week and everything was fine , then the little one got out the gate for maybe 2 second, I picked her up and put her back in the yard as soon as I put her down our male just snapped at her, and ever since he has not allowed her near him! What to do?? Plz help

    • shibashake says

      What is puppy’s routine? How did she act with the male during the first week? What is the male’s routine like, and how did his routine change? Did they play all of the time? How were their play sessions? Puppies usually don’t know what their boundaries are, so they may overly pester our existing dog.

      When I get a new puppy, I set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules. In this way, puppy knows what is expected of her, the other dogs know what to expect from my new puppy, and vice versa. Conflicts usually arise out of uncertainty – so I set up clear boundaries on what is acceptable behavior and what is not. Then, I supervise closely, and if there are any issues, I step in and resolve them in a consistent way.

      Here are some things that I did while introducing a new puppy to my existing dogs.

      Note though, that dog behavior is very context dependent. Each dog and each situation is different, so some things may apply and some may not. Getting a good professional trainer can be helpful, because he can observe the dogs together, read their body language, and properly identify the source of the behavior.

  64. JOEL says


    • shibashake says

      Hello Joel,

      The best way to identify the source of aggression for a dog, is to hire a professional to come over and observe the dog, read his body language, as well as look at his routine and environment. Dog behavior is very context dependent, therefore to properly diagnose an issue, a trainer would need to see the dog, get to know his temperament, and interpret the behavior based on what is happening in the surrounding context.

      For example, what kind of dog park is it? It is a fully enclosed dog park? What other dogs were around then? What was your dog doing before the incident occurred? Was he doing excited playing? Were many other dogs chasing him and he was feeling overwhelmed?

      Enclosed dog park environments are often chaotic, with few rules, and very little supervision. My Shiba Inu picked up a lot of bad habits at the dog park.

      Re: Alpha roll or pinning a dog down

      I used alpha rolls on my Shiba Inu when he was young, and unfortunately, it made his behavior even worse. He also became very sensitize to handling, and started to lose trust in me. I later found out that alpha rolls can also encourage aggression.

      Here is more on my experiences with alpha rolls.

      Here is a short but good article from UC Davis about dominance and dog aggression.

      I do bite inhibition training with my dogs to teach them to control the force of their bites. I also set up a consistent set of rules for them, including rules on how to interact with people. I use the NILIF (Nothing in Life is Free program) to achieve and maintain pack leadership. They have a lot of structure and a fixed routine, so that they know what to expect from me, and what I expect from them in return.

      Here is a bit more on how dogs learn.

      Each dog is different, and each situation is different. Based on what you describe, it is best to get help from a good professional trainer.

    • says

      Hi Joel,
      I have had similar experiences with my dog and fortunately found a way to stop this behaviour. First, did you do a structured walk with your dog before taking him to the dog park? Dog parks should be considered ‘treats’ not a main meal – his walk is where he will drain his energy, giving you more control of him while in a dog park. Secondly if your dog has a lot of energy to burn, do your structured walk with him with a dog packpack on, with a waterbottle in each side filled with water.
      I think what’s probably happened is your dog a) doesn’t consider you his pack leader and b) he’s gone to the dog park with too much energy and without another dog to release it with, he’s directing it at you.
      Does he behave this way with you at home? if so, that will be perfect as it’s an opportunity to give him time out. Put him in a boring room with nothing to do, like a bathroom and leave him there for 5 mins. IF he comes out and repeats the behaviour he goes back in for 10mins. Again, if he repeats, 15-20. My Husky learnt VERY quickly wiht this who he could mess with and who he couldn’t. As a simple, easy and non agressive method, it’s my favourite for getting rid of unwanted behaviour. When he misbehaves at home, say Time Out! so he associates the words with being put away from the pack in a boring room (don’t let him out in the yard, it needs to be a place where he’s alone with nothing to do). Once he understands time out, you can use that whne you’re out and about. I only need to say it to my dog if we’re out now and he immediately quits what he’s doing. Also, you could benefit form really working on being the pack leader. There are lots of great tips on this site, but for exxample, give him rules of what he can and can’t do, just giving a rule and enforcing it shows him you’re the pack leader. Don’t let him go through doors ahead of you, eat first, enforce rules with time out and make sure you’re taking him on a sturctured walk every day to drain his energy.
      My dog used to break the skin all the time, now he’s great. Good luck and hope this helps. 🙂 Camilla.

  65. Kai says

    Hi I found this article because my partner and I are getting a dog from a rescue centre. She is about 3 years old and is a Labrador and Rottweiler mix. She came in as a stray and since has had dominance issues. She was rehomed initially but came back when she became dominant in her new home. Also she is dominant over women – I have seen this already as when I visit her (we haven’t picked her up yet) she will sit on my feet to mark my rank lower than her. When visiting I have now made sure that if she tries to do this that I make her sit between my legs or beside me so she cannot rank me lower. Finally she can be food aggressive – think this could be to do with stray history.

    Sorry for the novel! Just wondered if there was any advice you could give to help me with asserting my rank over her and ensure that she learns to listen to me? I believe she can be a wonderful animal with some time and training, just want to get off on the right foot from the start 🙂

    Thank you.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Kai,

      Congratulations on your new furry family member!

      Here is a more recent article I wrote about dog dominance.

      In terms of being pack leader, I find that following the Nothing in Life is Free program works well with my dogs.

      As for food aggression issues, here are a couple of articles on my experiences with my dogs –

      When I first got Sephy, I got a lot of conflicting advice from my neighbors, online boards, etc. Finally, what worked best for my dogs is to –
      1. Get information from several different trusted sources. The ASPCA has some good articles on dog behavior. I also read articles and studies from animal behavior schools. UPenn, Cornell, and UCDavis has some good articles on dog behavior. Dr Sophia Yin also has an interesting blog on dog training and dog behavior.

      2. Observe my dogs closely and let them tell me what works well and what does not. My dogs communicate a lot with me, but in the beginning, I missed most of their communication cues or misinterpreted them. With practice, I am getting better at reading their body language.

      3. I also did some training classes and visited with several professional trainers during my difficult period with Sephy. There are a lot of not-so-good and so-so trainers out there though, so it is not always easy to find a good one. This is what I did to find a trainer for Sephy.

      Big hugs to your girl! Have you brought her home? How are things going?

    • Anonymous says

      Thanks for the fast reply. Haven’t picked Bonnie up yet, just waiting for a home check to approve us but should be sometime in next week.

      I will have a read up on the articles that you’ve given, I’m sure they will be helpful 🙂 I went to visit Bonnie on my own the other day as I had only been with my partner and found she was different with just me. After spending some time with her alone though it seems that she has definitely bonded with me and has began to listen to me. I went to visit her again today with my partner and she was as good as gold, completely over the top excited to see me and listened to me on our walk. I hope it doesn’t change when we bring her home!

      Any things you can suggest that I can try at home once she comes home?

    • shibashake says

      After spending some time with her alone though it seems that she has definitely bonded with me and has began to listen to me.

      That is awesome! She will be a very happy girl next week.

      Any things you can suggest that I can try at home once she comes home?

      Moving to a new home can be stressful for some dogs because everything is so new and they do not know what to expect from the new environment. When we moved to a new house, I set up a fixed routine, consistent house rules, and a consistent way of communication. In this way, Sephy knows exactly what to expect from me and also what I expect from him.

      Routine and consistency helps to increase certainty and reduce stress.

      Other than that, enjoy your new furry friend and take lots of pictures! 😀

  66. Becky says

    I have a 1 year old rescue dog from the ASPCA. We think he’s some type of terrier and pit bull mix… He’s very sweet and loveable unless he’s laying down in his bed or one of our beds. If some members of the family (all but me) go up to hug or kiss him, he growls. At times he will then crawl over to them like he’s sorry and if they respond, he growls again. His aggression is getting stronger at times towards my 4 year old grandson just coming in the room to give me a hug. I love this dog and want to keep him, but people safety is first. I no longer allow him on my bed and barely in my room at all.
    Does this seem like a dominance issue? And how can I fix it?

    thank you,

    • shibashake says

      Hello Becky,

      Does he show this behavior when you are not around?
      Does he show this behavior around other items – e.g. food or toys?
      How does he act towards strangers during outside walks?
      Does he show this behavior when someone comes towards him while he is sleeping on the floor?

      Dogs are more vulnerable when they are sleeping/resting, and a person (especially a new person) invading their space (especially their sleeping space) can often be seen as a threat. If I woke up and suddenly saw someone looming over my bed, I would feel threatened as well. 😀

      Here is an article on why dogs may not always like hugging.

      Based on what you describe, it may also be a guarding issue. He *may* be protecting his space (the bed), you, or both.

      Dogs often guard objects, people, etc. because they fear that those things will be taken away from them when other people (or other dogs) come close. For example, they may associate a person’s approach with “losing their sleeping area” (getting kicked off the bed), “losing their special person’s affection” (getting pushed to the side), etc.

      A dog may sometimes also guard his people to protect them from what *he* sees as a threat.

      Here is an article on why dogs get aggressive over food or toys. The article is targeted at food aggression, but much of it also applies to other types of guarding behavior.

      This handout from UC Davis gives a quick but good overview of dog aggression and dominance.

      Note though that I do not know your dog, do not know the surrounding context, and other related factors. Therefore, I can only give my best guess as to the source of the behavior. For an accurate evaluation, it may be best to get a professional trainer to meet the dog, observe his behavior, and identify what triggers the aggression. Then, a good trainer can also come up with a plan to retrain and redirect the behavior.

  67. Lo says

    Love this website 🙂 I have an 8 year old shiba who is perfect. We don’t crate her, she has perfect manners and has 100% recall but when she was a puppy she was bit by another dog. Now whenever another dog comes towards her she growls and shows her teeth. Usually the dog backs off and then they are the best of friends. The odd occassion the dog growls back and its a full on dog fight. How would you correct this behaviour?? She is always offleash when it happens (she is worse onleash) and its always the bigger breds that growl back so my shiba always loses which doesn’t help the problem. We can always reach down and pick her up as she focuses her aggression on the dog but we would really like to show her that she doesn’t have to show her teeth at every dog that comes near her. She loves cats and other animals its just dogs. She also has zero interst in treats. We have tried numerous trainers who all advise that there is nothing really wrong with her, she is just a dominant dog who is not dog aggressive, she is just protecting her own space and telling other dogs she doesn’t want them in her space but we would prefer if she didn’t do this behaviour. Its embarassing and we have become the joke of the park – every morning the people are like “I guess she hasn’t had her coffee yet” or “your dog woke up on the wrong side of the bed as always”. At least they are used to her and have no problem but new people always have that moment when they think my dog is nuts 🙁 Any tips would be appriciated 🙂

    • shibashake says

      We don’t crate her, she has perfect manners and has 100% recall

      What a sweetie! Are you sure she is a Shiba? 😉

      Sephy was also pretty reactive to other dogs when he was young. Dog-to-dog desensitization exercises helped him to stay more calm in the presence of other dogs. The nice thing about desensitization is that it starts-off with a very weak version of the stimulus. With other dogs, distance is often a great way to weaken the stimulus. In this case, I had Sephy on-leash a far distance away from another dog who was also on-leash and focused on his handler. I am far away enough that Sephy is calm and able to listen to commands.

      I get Sephy’s attention, we do some simple commands, and I reward him for staying calm in the presence of another dog. If everything is well, then we take one step toward the other dog and repeat the exercise.

      We used to practice a lot at a nearby SPCA with one of their trainers. They had a really nice enclosed space where we did our training, and a variety of friendly dogs that we could do train with.

      Big hugs to your Shiba girl!

  68. says

    Hi I was just wanting some advice I am hoping to get my Siberian Husky Puppy in Feb 2013 this will be my second dog but not of the same breed, I had my last dog was before I had children my youngest is now 2. I do know the breed need lots of exercise an shed around the year I’ve done a lot of research on the breed an I am willing to put the time into taking care an training this dog well 🙂 I was wanting some tips on how to get my children to approach the puppy an basically teach them how to be around the dog. I know the basics no smacking or bieng cruel to the dog an I will never be leaving the dog alone with the children any advice would be great, thanks in advance.

    • shibashake says


      This is not something I have much first-hand experience on, so I may not be the best person to answer your question. Some things that help with my dogs –

      1. Stay calm and no quick movements.
      Kids tend to move around a lot and have excited energy. This often gets Sephy excited as well, which is when he starts to jump and mouth. Calm energy with slower movements will help keep a dog more calm.

      2. Bite inhibition training.
      This trains the dog to have a soft mouth.

      3. Start training right away.
      It helps to institute rules right away, and start teaching those rules to puppy while she is still small. They grow up very quickly, and then cute puppy behaviors like jumping or mouthing can become dangerous even if it is only in play. I find that having a drag-lead on an in-training puppy helps a lot, because I have better and quicker control of puppy when I need it.

      I establish very clear house rules for both dogs and people. In this way, my dogs know exactly what to expect from me and other members of the household, and vice versa. Rules and routine really helps a lot with a new puppy.

      Congratulations on your soon-to-be new family member! Happy Holidays! 😀

  69. Leanne says


    I was wondering if you could give me some advice. I have 3 dogs. Mickey, whippet-is a fussy eater he doesnt like dry food but only wants tinned food, i have tried leaving it down all day i have tried only putting it down fot 10 mins, this is the only thing he is fussy about he will happyly eat anything else at all. He is a year and a half old. The other probelm he has is toliet training. He will happly do it anywhere on our walks (concret, grass, pebbles, plants) but he will not do it in my garden. My garden is concret and very very small. I tried doggy nappies (which he takes off) and briught a crate, but he does it anyway normally in his bed.

    My other dog bella is a sheppard cross with hunterhound female rescued her so dont know age. She seems to display dominance by mounting, her body language when meeting other dogs, she also gets jealous if i do anything with someone else and gets talkative about it, she chases the other 2 when off lead that seems slightly agessive. Due to pulling she now wears a head coller lead which does work.
    Can you give mw any tips to sort out these problems? I would love to be able to enjoy the walks rather than dread them. I am still trying to train my dogs to the basic commands with treats and clicker training

    Please help

    • shibashake says

      Yeah, my Shiba Inu is a fussy eater as well. At first, he didn’t want to eat his puppy kibble. Then we got him a better kibble that was more to his liking. He ate that for a while, then he only wanted wet food. After that, he didn’t even want wet food anymore, but would hold out only for cheese and other special treats.

      What helped with Sephy is switching to a fixed feeding routine and schedule. I gave him his food at fixed times and for a fixed duration. I also measured out the amount of food I gave him. He skipped a couple of meals, but then he realized that he wasn’t going to get dessert until after he ate his dinner, so he started eating his kibble.

      Another thing that helped with Sephy is to follow the Nothing in Life is free program. With NILIF, Sephy has to work for all of his food – no more freebies in a bowl. This makes him value food a lot more, and is also a great way to motivate him to follow house rules and commands.

      Re potty training:
      With potty training what has worked well with my Sibes is a lot of supervision during the training period. I watch them like a hawk, and as soon as it looks like they have to go, I quickly take them out to do their business. Since they have to go anyway, they go outside as soon as I take them to their potty spot. When that happens, I praise them very well and reward them with high priority treats (that they only get for pottying in the backyard), a lot of attention, and also a fun game.

      In this way, they learn that pottying outside = lots of rewards, attention, and games, while pottying inside = get interrupted and taken outside.

      Supervision is probably the single most important aspect of potty training. If we can catch our dog before he makes a mistake in the house, then it becomes a useful learning opportunity; one which ends with a positive reward at the end for doing the right thing.

      Here is more on my potty training experiences.

      Also, some dogs may not like going in the backyard, or in confined spaces. My Shiba is very picky about his potty spots. For him, I usually take him out to the front-yard, and he is happy to go there.

      Re jealous for affection:
      One thing that has really helped with my dogs is to have very consistent house rules. I have rules of interaction with people, and rules of interaction with other dogs.

      If I am giving affection to one of my dogs and another tries to rudely butt-in, then I no-mark (Ack-ack) to let her know that it is unacceptable behavior. Then I tell her what do to instead, e.g. Down.

      If she follows the pre-trained command and is calm, then I give affection to both dogs. If she continues with her bad behavior and harasses my other dog, then she goes to timeout. In this way, she learns that bullying = no affection and loss of freedom. However, lying down calmly = lots of attention and affection.

      Here is a bit more on what has helped with training my Sibes.

  70. Amanda says

    Hopefully you can be of some help in this strange situation we have going on in our household. Our 4 year old pit was spayed about 5 months ago. Since then, she has started to hump people and our poor chihuahua, who is a male(p.s. they get along on a regular basis). I’ve never seen a female do this, ever. Also at times, very rarely, she has snapped at a few of us. Usually because we try and move her (off the bed or couch ect). Before all this, we always were able to brag about how she has never been aggressive towards anyone. Now, I have to take a squirt bottle on walks to ensure she doesn’t attack any other female dogs. Its sad that things have changed like this. Any advice would be great. Thank you.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Amanda,

      Many apologies for the late reply. I have been doing a lot of site updates, and as a result, things are a bit up in the air. 😀

      In terms of the behavior that you describe, it is not something I have encountered before, so I don’t have any firsthand knowledge.

      One possibility is that she may still be feeling pain/discomfort from the spay procedure. Is she showing any other signs of pain/discomfort while walking? How has her activity level been? Is she jumping or running around in a normal way?

      As for humping, yeah, female dogs do that as well. In addition, humping is not always a sign of dominant behavior. One of my female Sibes, Lara, does that sometimes during play. Even though she does it in play, it is not a behavior that I want to encourage, so I always supervise and stop her.

      For getting off couches, I teach my dogs the “Off” command. They get rewarded very well for doing it, so they are happy to work with me. Then after “Off”, I give them the “Down” command, and give them some nice affection for lying close to me on the floor.

      Instead of giving my dogs their food for free in a bowl, I make them work for their food throughout the day by doing commands, grooming, being calm, lying nicely on the carpet, etc. This is also called the Nothing in Life is Free (NILIF) program and it works very well for us.

      Let us know how it goes for your girl.

  71. Morgan says

    I like this article a lot. I am the owner of two dogs, both who are related by the same mother (but different fathers.)

    One is sweet and overly submissive. She is not the problem. Our problem is out male who is a chow/border collie mix. He is now 10 years old. He is extremely intelligent but also extremely dominant. Lately it has gotten worse. He tends to respond to me more than my mother, but I have instances where he will suddenly snap at me. (EX: if I am petting him and I touch his paws, he hates that.) ..I usually can make him roll on his back just by staring him down, but he is very stubborn and growls while doing it.

    He has continuous attitude. Even when he listens, like when I order him off my bed, he does it but all the while growling. When I am not around he is even worse. He had bitten my mother and broke skin when I was away working in China. This was a result of him stealing human food and her trying to take it away. .. We try to be strict with him. feeding time especially. He has to sit and lay down and wait until we say he can eat. He dont let him force himself on us to be petted. We make him lay down and wait to be called.. and other little things. But he is still a time bomb.

    Is there anything else I can do? He is very good at tricks, but is not interested in fetch or other games.

  72. aimee says

    i have 2 pitbulls they got along great till a few months ago my female who is 8 attacks the male who is almost 1 over food or him smelling the carpet or getting attention its gettin pretty bad and i dont know how to stop it does anyone have any ideas how i can get this to stop i think she does it to show him this is her house and not his

    • shibashake says

      Hello Aimee,

      Conflicts between family dogs usually arise out of disagreement over resources – e.g. food, toys, access to people, or space. Some things that help with my dogs-
      1. Clear rules of interaction.
      I establish clear interaction rules with my dogs. In this way, they know what is a good and positive way to interact with each other, and what is not. I teach them these rules and reward them well for working with me.

      2. Set my dogs up for success.
      I supervise and manage them carefully so that interactions are positive or at worst neutral. I do not expose them to situations that I know they cannot handle. During eating time, I supervise and prevent stealing. They each work on their own interactive toy and I body block them away when they get too close to another dog. In this way, I can prevent conflicts before anything starts.

      This also teaches my dogs that I will handle and resolve conflicts. Whenever there are disagreements, they alert me and I quickly come and take care of things. In this way, they do not need to do it themselves with aggression.

      3. Link Other Dogs to Positive Experiences.

      I also do group obedience training and show them that they get the most resources by working together rather than through competition and aggression. Dog-to-dog desensitization exercises can also be helpful in creating positive experiences, and teaching the dog alternate ways to deal with stress and conflict.

      Here is more of what I do to keep the peace at home-

      Getting help from a professional trainer can also be very helpful. A good trainer can accurately identify our dog’s aggression triggers, come up with an effective and safe plan for desensitization, as well as help us with timing, consistency, and execution of the techniques. Given that the Pitbull is such a powerful breed, getting professional help becomes even more crucial for the safety of everyone involved.

  73. Krystal says

    Hi there,

    What a great article. Thanks very much for posting it.

    I have an almost 2-year old Staffordshire Bull Terrier named Ditmars who had never shown any aggression (and was also very submissive) toward other dogs up until about 2 months ago. He was socialized with many dogs at an early age and now we have moved to a remote island in the Caribbean where he has only about 2 consistent dog-friends to play with.

    It happened almost overnight – our neighbor got a 6-month old German Shepard puppy, and after we walked them together, we let them off leash to play with eachother, and my Staffy went for him – no one was hurt, but every time we bring those two together, I can just see that Ditmars feels very dominant towards him. I am very good at predicting when he is feeling dominant and he responds very well to my “touches” – sort of Cesar Millan style – and always submits to me when I give him a correction, which is great, but I don’t know how to take it a step further to get these 2 dogs to the point where they can be together unsupervised. Is it possible he is going through an adolescent ‘stage’?

    My dog leads a very disciplined life with us, gets plenty of exercise, walks well on the leash, no food aggression, etc. His only downfall before this was that he got overly excited sometimes.

    You seem to know what you’re talking about, so any light you could shed on this would be great! Thank you so much.

    • shibashake says

      we have moved to a remote island in the Caribbean

      Sounds exciting! I always enjoyed my trips to the Caribbean.

      When we moved to a new house a few years ago, Sephy’s behavior also changed initially. Because there were so many changes to his environment and routine, Sephy was no sure what the new rules were, and how to respond to all the uncertainty. As a result, he would just try out things to see what was ok and what was not.

      Some things that helped with Sephy-
      1. I quickly reestablished a fixed routine for him.
      2. I supervised him more closely in the beginning. If he was uncertain how to act, I tell him what to do and reward him well for it. I also let him know which behaviors are undesirable.
      3. I continue to follow the NILIF program and reestablished old house rules in the new place.

      During walks we usually ignore other dogs, and create neutral experiences. After he got used to his new environment, we started to greet dogs who are calm and friendly.

  74. ashley says

    I have a 2 year old male German Shepherd who grew up playing with many dogs (always loved it, always behaved and had a good experience). When he got older we restricted him to only a few playmates and then moved. Now he only has my in-laws 2 dogs that he grew up near to play with on occasion. We wanted to get him a friend but when we took him to meet dogs, he fought or growled at all of them except one (who didn’t like him). I gave up on getting him a friend for a while but seeing how happy he is playing with my in-laws dogs makes me want to get a companion! He did great when we brought home a new cat so I am on the fence about introducing a new dog. Part of me thinks if we bring the dog home and have him meet her slowly with positive reinforcement he will accept it properly. Any opinions?

    Thank you!

    • shibashake says

      With my Shiba (Sephy) I have found that getting a puppy is easier. Puppies are usually more submissive, and older dogs are generally more willing to tolerate puppy mistakes. However, I still make sure to always supervise and prevent puppy from bothering my older dogs when they do not want to be bothered.

      Sephy was also more willing to accept our Sibe puppy (Lara) after he observed her getting along with our other dog, Shania. I suppose he figures that Lara is “ok”, because Shania (whom he already trusts) thinks that she is an awesome friend and playmate.

      I think it also helped that we specifically picked a more submissive female puppy (Sephy is a male Shiba Inu).

  75. Melissa says

    I got a husky/border collie cross 4 weeks ago from a shelter. He was only 7 weeks at the time. I have been taking him to many pet stores and to a weekly puppy socialization class. We have had some issues with him mouthing to hard both on arms and legs. Recently become overly aggressive, we will be playing and he will go for my hand rather then the toy, I will move the toy in front of him to show which I want him to chew on. He will then almost make a feral sound and continue to attack my hand.
    Is this just because we played to much and he is now done for a while or is it the start of something worse?

    • shibashake says

      Hello Melissa,

      With my dogs, 2 things help during game play-
      1. Many game rules
      Having game rules allows me to control the game. For example, they are not allowed to mouth on me or jump on me. If they do so, I no-mark (Ack-ack) and stop the game briefly. If they continue to jump and mouth on me, they go to timeout.

      2. Lots of play breaks
      I have many breaks during the game so that they do not get over-excited. During the breaks, they do commands for me. This gets them to refocus on me and to calm down a bit. After a short break, I resume playing with them

      As for socialization, how does he act when at the pet store and puppy socialization class? Is he relaxed? tentative? fearful? bold? Does he play? What is his play style like?

  76. ScoutMama says

    Hey, there. I have a pup, she’s about six months old, She’s 1/2 Springer 1/4 Lab 1/4 Rottie… I am an experience dog owner… Save for dealing with food aggression. I don’t understand what triggered the aggression, and I have tried everything I have seen online… It seems like over the last week she is slowly getting worse… I am at my wits end… I am good about the dominance part… I have her sit and wait until I say ok for her food, I enter the house first, she must sit and wait til I say ok to go outside, sit to be petted etc.. But it seems like out of nowhere she got this food guarding/aggression… I set the bowl down and she came after me…. I stood my ground and she challenged me, I had to make her sit and kennel her… It’s to the point lately that I can’t even go into my kitchen without her coming after me… I tried setting the food bowl between my feet and petting her, but the body stance was stiff and as soon as my hand went near her she started snarling and then when I petted her she snapped… Last night she caught my finger. It took three hours to regain feeling… Thankfully she didn’t break the skin….. What do I do? I have never had this issue with my 150# Rottie, or any of my other dogs…. I am running out of options. Please help! Thank you!

  77. Syd says

    Hello, I’m 13 years old. I got my golden retriever as a pup from a friend of ours when I was 9 as a show dog. I’ve done considerably well training her in showmanship, obedience, agility, and rally. We are members of our local kennel club. However lately I think she’s noticed how much larger and stronger I am. When I was little I think she saw me as her child, above me, and now that I am strong enough to correct and control everything she does, I think she’s trying to challenge me. When I’m practicing agility in our backyard, every so often she will run away, and flip over on her back and flip around like a fool with her teeth bared. When she first started this I just grabbed her collar, pulled her up and flipped her back upright. For a few months this worked and I didn’t think it was any sort of dominant behaviour. But then she started snapping when I went to pull her up. I decided to stop pulling away one day, and just grabbed her. She ended up snapping at my hand and put three mild puncture in my right hand. When she does stuff like that, I sometimes bop her on the nose even though I know I shouldn’t. It just hurts because I see her as my friend, my little baby, and I’ve always tended to let out hurt feelings and frustration through anger. Since I’ve worked on controling my anger, but I still don’t know how to handle it! I was clipping her nails and got close to her kwick (didn’t cut into it though) and she turned around and snapped! I always clip her nails and have even cut into the kwick and she’s always tolerated it. I’ve tried getting my parents involved, but she doesn’t challenge them and NEVER challenges me in front of them. They said when she does stuff like that too tell her NO and leave. Today she flipped on her back again, and when she got up I “backed her down” (walk towards them). She flipped back over, and I reached down to her collar very slowly as she bared her teeth. I said NO firmly, put her on the leash, walked her inside, then brought her back out fifteen minutes later and worked on targetting (which she likes) to end it on a positive note. I know I’ve done a BUNCH wrong, which is whre I’m getting at here. I’ve messed up dealing with it, how do I reverse what I’ve done and fix the issue? I don’t want to be her pup, I need to be her alpha!

    • shibashake says

      Hello Syd,

      In terms of leadership, what works well with my dogs is the NILIF program. With NILIF, I am able to get them to do what I want, by controlling what they want.

      As for collar grabs, dogs often learn to associate it with punishment or the end of fun. Often, we grab our dog’s collars to stop them from doing something. The more we do this, the more it conditions the dog to associate the grab with pain or the end of play. This encourages a dog to either run away from a collar grab or to respond with aggression to prevent a collar grab. It may also later cause the dog to become sensitive to putting on a collar.

      With my Shiba Inu, I slowly desensitized him to collar grabs by reassociating the event with something positive. I also did a lot of handling exercises with him because he is naturally sensitive to people touching him.

      As for nail clipping, I have switched to using a nail grinder for my Shiba. It allows me to properly shape the nail and best of all it takes the nail down slowly so I am not in danger to cutting too close to the quick. He also gets his favorite fish dish while grinding his nails, so he is happy to let us do it. Otherwise, from his point of view, nail clipping is an uncomfortable, possibly painful event, where he is in a vulnerable position and people are handling his sensitive paws. There is a lot of trust involved when dogs let us handle them so.

  78. Jo says

    I have a 6 year old rotator called Honey. She has always been a good dog generally but in March she snapped at me and bit my face. I have a small scar to the side of my eye as a result and had 2 stitches in it.
    Last month she snapped at my uncle and last night she snapped at me again.
    We have had a dog behaviourist round and taken on board everything she said to us. Problem is, while Honey is a good girl most of the time, this unpredictable streak is getting worse and I no longer trust her. What if next time it is worse? I just don’t know what to do

    • shibashake says

      Hello Jo,

      From observing my dogs, it seems that there is usually a trigger to their reactive behaviors. This is good news because it makes the aggressive behavior more predictable. Once I identify what is triggering their reactivity, I can manage it, and then slowly desensitize them to the trigger in a structured environment.

      Is there something that triggers Honey’s aggression? What does the behaviorist say? What exercises are the behaviorist suggesting?

      What type of training do you usually do with Honey (before the snapping incidents)? Were there commonalities between the two incidents? Sometimes, dogs may also show sudden aggression when there is a physical issue that is causing them pain. Is Honey showing any signs of physical discomfort?

  79. Martin says


    This article really helped me with an assignment about dog behaviour at college as I was struggling to find information anywhere else that’s in this amount of detail, It’s balanced and well written.

  80. Sandy says

    Hi, we have a 2 yr old Shiba Inu and a 6 yr old Boston Terrier. Both girls. Throughout the day they get along and play fight but then randomly out of nowhere the Shiba attacks the Terrier. She’ll be snarling loud and biting on her and Punkin (terrier) yelps. There’s no food around, Punkin can be just walking by and she flips out. Is it possible to get her to stop? She also does it to the other Boston Terrier my sister has who she grew up. He won’t even go in the same room with her.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Sandy,

      Shibas can be protective over their personal space. Sephy, for example, does not like new dogs invading his space and he especially does not like new dogs sniffing his butt. He is ok with dogs that are in his circle of trust. Also, if he is startled awake, he may air snap out of instinct.

      When I got a new Sibe puppy last year, Sephy did not really want puppy near him. Some things that helped-
      1. I clearly established interaction rules between the dogs. For example, there is no stealing, no bullying, and no invading of space (especially when Sephy is resting or asleep).
      2. I did a lot of group obedience training sessions and taught them that they get rewarded most by being calm and working together cooperatively with me.
      3. I supervised all play sessions. I usually have many play breaks so that nobody gets over-excited and “play” escalates into something else.
      4. I make sure that all interactions between puppy and my other dogs are always positive or at worst neutral. There is no bullying allowed and they are not allowed to physically “correct” each other. If there are conflicts, they know that I am the one who will resolve it.

      Here is more on what I do to keep the peace at home-

  81. Codeman says

    I have a 8week old pitbull puppy who ive had for two weeks now. She is very loving and playful.She comes to me, is excited to see me when i come home. There is one problem thats troubling me and my family I cant stop her from jumping and biting on my pug(7yrs).It looks playful but my pug is very lazy and doesnt enjoy. My pug isnt aggressive and does nothing but cuddle and eat. , but I cant stop my pitbull from biting her.My pug just runs away or ignores the jumping It seems innocent until my pug cant take it no more and snaps once nothing serious which settles things down as my puppy backs off. But 15 mins later my pups back at jumping and biting my pug. I seperate them when it starts and feed seperate. I dont think its too serious because they will sleep together at nighttime but i dont want this to continue where my pug gets my pit now or my pit gets bigger and does damage to my pug. Please i dont want anything to happen plz help. My pitbull is named atheena my pug is belle

    • shibashake says

      Hello Codeman,

      I got a new puppy early last year and she is a super ball of energy. She wanted to play all of the time and kept pestering my other two dogs. Some things that helped with my puppy-
      – I set up a very fixed routine for puppy, which includes play time, eating time, training time, and the ever important rest time.
      – I make sure that she does not bug my other dogs when they want to rest.
      – I also have safe zones where puppy is not allowed to play. For example, each of my dogs have their own bed area and when they go there, it is a safe zone where they can rest in peace. I make sure puppy leaves them alone when they are there. If she goes near, I no-mark and just body block her away.
      – I supervise them during play to keep things safe and have many play-breaks so that puppy does not become over-excited.
      – I exercise puppy with games, training and interactive toys so that she redirects her energy onto positive, people-friendly, and dog-friendly activities.

      When I do not have the time to supervise puppy, she goes in her crate, enclosure, or stays tethered in the kitchen with me.

      Here are more of my experiences on introducing a second dog.

      Here are some other things that helped with my puppy-

  82. Ashley says

    I have an almost 9 month old Husky-lab mix named Bailey, and she was so sweet and affectionate (though hyper active and excitable like huskies and labs tend to be) until her first heat a few weeks ago. Right before we knew she was in heat (before the period), there was an incident at home where my husband and I were sitting on the couch, and Bailey was laying between our sets of feet. I looked down at her at some point and thought she looked especially cute, and decided to pet her. Seemingly out of nowhere, she snapped at me and darted away. She never did this before, and I also got no growl or curled lip in warning. My husband and I were shocked. The only thing I can think of that could have set her off was that she had a bone nearby that she was being possessive over, even though I made no motions towards the bone.
    Things only escalated from there. We have noticed that she never growls at my husband, only me. At first we thought it was because I am pregnant, and might be avoiding me because she senses or smells me differently. Now we think it is just a dominance issue, that she probably sees me as competition for top female in the house.
    We moved her crate (used for bedtime, occasional feedings and travel) into our room so she might feel like we’re more of a “pack”. She does not sleep on the bed with us, though we do let her on the bed at times. When we go in our room, she follows and immediately goes into her crate, even though we don’t tell her. We try to call her out, but she won’t come. If we were sending her there for the night, we would say “bedtime” and she’d go right in, but though we don’t say it, she goes anyway and growls if I approach. Other times, she will lay down on the floor near her crate, and growl if I come near her. When she is in her crate and acting territorial/dominant like this, if I look at her she growls. If I so much as say her name, she growls. If my husband can coax her out, she’ll let him pet her and love on her, but if I gently move my hand towards her non-threateningly to pet her, she’ll then growl at me, and only me. Then she’ll try to go away into her crate.
    She gets growly with me at random times of the day, also. Sometimes she’ll come over to me and lean on my leg for attention, and say I decide to give it to her and pet her, she’ll be fine for a minute and then suddenly she’ll start growling. I don’t get it.
    She is possessive over toys if she is playing with them, unless she brings them to us for Fetch. Again, she only growls and snaps at me, and has only ever been this way with my husband once or twice. She still acts like this, even now that her heat has ended. I am worried about what will happen when our baby is born; I don’t want her unpredictable behavior to mean possible injury to our child.

    We have tried establishing that she is not dominant in the house by having her sit before feeding, by not letting her pull on the leash and walk ahead during walks.. well that one we try on, but we have trouble with… she sleeps in her crate below us, when we play tug of war, we don’t let her “win”, and when we go up/down stairs and through doors, we make her sit and go through last. Please do your best to help me! How can I further establish dominance with her?

    • shibashake says

      Hello Ashley,

      I went through a similar experience with my Shiba Inu Sephy. It is difficult to say how similar my situation was, so I will just tell my story.

      Sephy is a very stubborn dog and in the beginning, I was not very sure how to handle him. He was also very mouthy and would often mouth all over my hands and arms. Since my husband worked, I was home with Sephy most of the day dealing with his Shiba hijinks. I spent the whole day walking him, feeding him, and trying to give him affection. However, when my husband returned, Sephy seemed to prefer his company. Also, Sephy would reserve his worst behaviors for me – including humping my leg, jumping on me, crazy leash biting, and mouthing all over me.

      Because of all this, I got even more uncertain of him, and was also somewhat fearful. I also felt somewhat betrayed that he would avoid my company, especially when I was the one feeding and taking care of him. However, the more uncertain and fearful I felt, the worse his behavior became. It was not a good time for either of us.

      I later realized that Sephy is a very sensitive dog. Therefore, he picked up on my uncertain and fearful energy, and became somewhat stressed himself. Fear can often be contagious. As a result of this, he started acting erratically because he was stressed, and did not know what to expect from me. On the other hand, my husband was a lot more calm and sure with him. This was something Sephy could count on, and as a result he was a lot more calm around my husband and preferred his calm company.

      House rules are important, but I realized that calm energy and confidence are also very important.

      I started by taking very small steps.
      -First, I stopped giving him too much attention and affection. I spent more time on my own tasks, and ignored him more.
      -I put Sephy on a very fixed schedule. In this way, I was sure what to expect from him and he was sure what to expect from me. I had a schedule for the entire day planned out, to the minute.
      -I established very clear rules and a very clear plan of what I would do for each of his bad behaviors. I also had many contingency plans. Having a plan really helped me build my own confidence and become less fearful of what *might* happen.
      -I put a drag-lead on Sephy (only with a flat collar and only when I am home to supervise). This helped me to control him better, and to easily put him in timeout whenever he tried to mouth me or hump me.

      All of these things helped me to regain control of the house, and become a lot more calm and confident. Once I became more calm, Sephy also calmed down and his behavior improved significantly.

      Here are some things that helped me when Sephy was young-

      Getting private lessons from a professional trainer can also be very helpful. I met with many professional trainers when Sephy was young. It was not easy to find a good positive trainer that could handle Sephy, but we found a couple and they were quite helpful. I also did a lot of research on the web and read a lot of dog books. On the web, I found the breed-specific forums and meetup groups to be most helpful because there were a lot of veterans there that post regularly.

  83. Hana Jang says

    Hi! My male shiba is almost 4 months and he has bad food and toy aggression. We started to work on some food aggression techniques so we’ll have to see if that will fix anything. But he will growl at us if we got near him and even after he was done with his food, he’ll growl and be mad for the next 15-30 min. When he’s mad and growling, should we just ignore that or what do we do? He’s protective over his toys if we let him sit with it for a little bit and he’ll start growling if we got near him. This morning, he was being protective over his toy, so I drew his attention away by giving him a couple of treats and I put the toy away. Maybe about 10-15 later, I was laying on the floor, on my computer, my shiba was near him and I was just smiling at him saying hi and he just started growling and just came at me. Jumping and bite my thigh and gave me a small bruise. He has been very mouthy and I’m getting bite marks everywhere. I have no idea why he came at me like that. Maybe cause he didn’t have a toy anymore? and how can I stop my shiba from just biting? I tell him no, stop, or tell him sit, sometimes he’ll sit but goes back to biting. He has been biting a little bit around my leg and ankle lately too. There was also a time when I was training him how to sit and lay down, I gave him a treat after he did a command, and he came at me and then started to protect the bag of treats and growling at us and he started to pee. I need help! I know he’s only 4 months old but I feel like his behavior shouldn’t be this bad at his age. I want to fix this before he gets bigger or we can seriously get hurt.

  84. Katie says

    Hi there, this has helped me learn so much that I didn’t think of! I have a new puppy Staffordshire ball terroir. He’s my baby I love him to pieces but he can reduce me to tears. He bites me( hasn’t drawn blood) pounces at me, grabs my hair try’s pulling it, follows me around growling at me. With my partner he’s as good as gold occasionally he may pounce around and growl but never to the extent he shows to me. Other than this he is brilliant I can take him for walks off his lead he doesn’t run far if he is running far he turns to check I’m there and comes running back to me before setting off again. He sits, comes here, gives paw, lays down and has been weeing and pooing on his matts since He was 10weeks.I’ve never been to classes he’s 15weeks now and I’m thinking maybe because of his behaviour to take him to classes what do u think? We currently live In a bedsit and will be moving into a house In 7weeks so I’m definitely going to start doing time out. I usually do that by putting him in his Crete. Is there any personal advice you could forward. Would really help! Thankyou in advance. A very desperate girlie xxx

    • shibashake says

      Hello Katie,
      I had a similar experience with my Shiba Inu Sephy. When he was a puppy, he would bite all over me, hump my leg, and do crazy leash biting. Here are some things that helped me with Sephy-

      As for classes, my experience is that group classes are mostly for socialization. I really did not learn much there, but the socialization experience was useful for Sephy. I learned most from doing private lessons with a good professional trainer. Since dog training is not well regulated, there are many sub-par trainers out there. I always call them up, ask them many questions about my dog’s behavior issues, and push them for detailed answers. In general, I look for trainers who are well versed in operant conditioning techniques, have good experience with difficult dogs, and have calm dogs of their own that they can use in training.

      In terms of time-out, it is best not to use the crate. My dogs go into their crate for eating and sleeping at night, so I want it to be a positive place for them. An alternative to using a time-out room, is to put the dog on a tie-down in a quiet, low stimulus area. Only use a flat collar or harness and not an aversive collar. Do not leave a dog on tie-down if we are not home.

      Let us know how it goes. Hugs to your little boy!

  85. eddiesmom says

    i have huge issues with eddies domination of me. he is never dominating toward me when the hubby is around and he also isnt dominant toward my daughter. but as soon as the hubby isnt around its horrible if iam eating he will hop right on the table wont listen to me at all and will eat my food and if i try to take it from him he bears his teeth. he has also humped me and when i push him off he comes right back, and the most embaressing of all hes actually peed on me. if i take him for a walk i can never take him off the leash he wont listen to me like he does to the hubby, and i have to use the pinch collar the hubby doesnt need it he uses the harness, i dont know if its a gender thing or if he just sees me as weak. also if a male friend that he does not know comes up to me while iam walking him he growls and gets like this hulk stance going on and he like puffs up his chest its humiliating because people think hes vicious and hes far from it

  86. Toni says

    I have a male and female pitbull mixes. The male shows dominance to the female, and before she was ok with it. But now she has started fights. In the past month it has happened 4 times. Any advice on what to do?

    • shibashake says

      Hello Toni,

      I have a no-bullying rule with my dogs, and that seems to have worked well. In general, when one dog is becoming a pest to another I will step in and handle the situation. Usually it is the new puppy that is trying something that the other dogs do not like, e.g. humping.

      I supervise the dogs while they are playing so that as soon as I see puppy getting into position to hump, I non-mark her (No or Ack-ack) and lead her away by her drag lead. Then, we take a short break to do some obedience commands. After a bit, she gets to go back and play.

      If she keeps trying to hump and ignores my warnings, then play stops and she has to go for a short timeout.

      This teaches my dogs that they don’t have to correct each other, I will handle it. I also try to be very consistent with them in terms of the rules, i.e. no dog gets to hump, and all of them get the same consequences for the same actions. The key here is to step in early and stop things before they escalate into aggression. In this way, it can be a learning experience. Once things have escalated too much, it becomes dangerous to step in, the dogs have likely gone rear-brained, and they are no longer able to learn.

      In general, the more a dog practices a certain behavior (including aggression) the more likely he/she will repeat that behavior. Therefore, I also try to supervise and manage things so that there is no need for aggression. For example, I prevent my dogs from stealing each others stuff. Very occasionally, a small theft occurs, but I will hand out the consequences to the thief, and I also replace the stuff. In this way, there is no need for the dogs to use aggression and things don’t escalate. I also make sure they are separated when working on really high priority items, e.g. bully sticks.

      Here are more of my experiences with supervising my dogs –

  87. Sophie says

    Hello, Thank you for writing this article as I have learnt a lot about dominance. We have recently adopted a border collie puppy who has serious mouthing and nipping problems, we understand that it is a puppy thing but it is getting hard to live with as we are finding it hard to control, do you know of any effective methods we could use? Also, she seems to be claiming part of the garden because if we walk round the side she bites your feet, legs or trousers and growls. I am worried that this will progress into aggression, is there anything we can do to claim the garden back?

    • shibashake says

      Hello Sophie,
      Congratulations on your new puppy!

      In terms of mouthing, here are a few things that really helped with my dogs –
      1. Bite inhibition training – This teaches a dog to control the force of his bites. A dog with a soft mouth is a real joy to have.

      2. Drag-lead – I put a drag-lead on puppies while they are still in training. The drag-lead is nice because it gives me more control of my dogs without having to lay hands on them. Only use a drag-lead under supervision and with a regular flat collar (not an aversive collar).

      3. NILIF program (Nothing in Life is Free) – This simply means that my dogs have to do something for me before they get anything in return. This teaches them that the best way to get what they want is to first do what I want.

      4. Time-outs – Time-outs worked very well for my Shiba Inu’s biting issues. Most dogs like their freedom and like being with people, so having that taken away is a big deterrent.

      Also, she seems to be claiming part of the garden because if we walk round the side she bites your feet, legs or trousers and growls.

      Sounds like she is trying to herd people. Border Collies are very high energy and they can be very intense about doing a job. There are two Border Collies in the area where I live and it is amazing watching them herd goats. Border Collies really love to herd. 😀

      Two things that may help –
      1. Give her many positive and human approved outlets for her energy.
      2. When my dogs nip on feet or hands, I non-mark them and try to get them to do something else. If they ignore that and keep biting, then I calmly say timeout and remove them to a timeout area using their drag lead.

  88. Simon says

    A brilliantly written article. I found this because I have a Doberman who like yours won’t back down if challenged. Unfortunately it means he’s getting less predictable on walks and I don’t want to have to take away his liberties.

    He is otherwise very well trained, he doesn’t bolt through doors, sleep on furniture and is very obedient. With most other dogs he’s fine and will play, if they get too playful he will try to get away or give a growl or snap. Nothing abnormal or wrong with this. But if any dog tries to stare him down, he’ll switch in an instant! I know he doesn’t want to fight, I can often step between them before it escalates and keep them from making eye contact and he will keep his distance and let me deal with it even without being told.

    Now I know in the dog world, he’s not doing very much wrong, he’s sticking up for himself, he’s not going to allow a dog to bully him into submission which in some ways is great… if it were a child, I would be proud. Unfortunately a dog in the human world, this is unacceptable and potentially dangers. With new dog control laws going through UK parliament, this could be seen as my dog being ‘dangerously out of control’ and liable for a fine.

    These occurrences are rare now, is there anything else you would advise to stop it before it becomes a genuine problem? My little dog is very submissive so never gets into fights…. and I want an element of that in him. I sometimes make him lie down if a dog a little further away is staring too intently, but I’m not sure if it’s the best thing to do.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Simon,
      Yeah Shiba Inu Sephy has a similar personality. He absolutely does not get along with other dominant dogs, and he will not back down even though he is a pretty small dog. He also does not like new dogs sniffing his butt, which may be because of dominance, trust, or both.

      I keep him away from dominant dogs because it will not go well.

      He plays with more submissive or playful dogs, larger dogs, and usually in small supervised groups. When we meet dominant dogs during walks, we ignore them. I do not let Sephy stop and stare back, we just move along at a normal pace. This creates a neutral experience rather than a negative experience. It also ensures that he does not practice any dominance behaviors with other dogs.

      Now, Sephy has learned that we usually ignore new dogs. Sometimes, we will stop and greet friendly dogs that are under very good control of their handler and that we often see in the neighborhood. Still, I keep dogs away from his butt area.

      I also have a lot of play breaks so that Sephy does not get over-excited when interacting with other dogs. When he gets over-excited things can get a bit too intense and play may turn into something more serious.

      Here are more of my experiences with Sephy and other dogs –

      Hope this helps. Thank you very much for your comment.

    • Simon says

      Thanks again, it’s refreshing to hear from someone who can provide a more balanced and objective solutions while the famous ‘professionals’ are teaching all sorts of bad and/or ineffective habits. The ‘Neutral’ experience is a good tip, I’ve always gone for Positive to avoid negative but actually neutral is a more balanced approach in cases such as these. (two dominant dogs with positive reinforcement food?… bad idea…)

      Will now digest the entire blog as you have some amazing stuff on here!

  89. Colleen says

    I’m pretty sure Reptar sometimes thinks he is a working dog and that we are cattle. He tries to herd us constantly. He’ll even go as far as nipping at our ankles like a border collie does to cattle. He does this when we’re playing or have something he wants. For example, when we’re playing fetch outside and it’s my or my husbands turn to throw the ball or go get the ball, Reptar herds us to the ball. Also occasionally in the house if we’re looking for his Kong to fill, he herds us.

    We’ve tried stopping play, and not giving him his Kong or whatever it is he is after. We’ve also tried non-marking the situation and even bringing him in the house so he loses his freedom when he does it. Doesn’t seem to make a difference. He still does it. He’s a smart dog, as you know with Sephy, and usually picks up on things quickly. So i’m not sure how to handle this situation.

    Any ideas? I don’t even truly understand why he does it. He knows his role in the house and while he tests us with everything, we’ve established and continue to prove to him we’re the pack leaders. The herding is the only dominating thing he does that we can’t seem to get under control.

    • shibashake says

      The herding is the only dominating thing he does that we can’t seem to get under control.

      My guess is that Reptar probably just sees it as a game. In this case, the targets of the game are the people, so getting any kind of reaction from the people can probably be seen as a reward.

      What does Reptar do after you bring him into the house? Does he continue with the herding? Does he only do it outside the house?

      One thing to try is to show him that if he tries to herd, then he doesn’t get any attention and he can’t come near people for a while. There are a couple of ways to do this. You can ask him to Go to His Mat and to stay there. If he does that and stays there for a bit – then reward him well. Then just keep repeating that every time he herds.

      You can also try asking him for space when you are walking around. For example when he gets too close, non-mark him, and then body block him so that he moves back. Then turn around and continue your walk.

      Most of the time, Sephy will go to his mat when asked. Sometimes though, he is too intense on the game, so two possibilities are using a tie-down for a short period of time or putting him in the time-out room for a short period of time.

      Hugs to Reptar! Let us know when you put up new pictures. 😀

  90. Bart says

    We keep a drag leash on him at all times too. That definitely helps keep him under control when he acts up. We’ve been diligent about correcting him and not letting him control us, but he still occasionally bites at our feet. I think it will just take some time on our part to break him of this.
    Also, he marked for the first time at a friend’s house that has dogs. he’s never ever gone in our house before. is this part of his dominant dog behavior? and how do you stop it!

    Thank you for this site. It’s nice to know that it’s not just me.

    • shibashake says

      Also, he marked for the first time at a friend’s house that has dogs. he’s never ever gone in our house before. is this part of his dominant dog behavior? and how do you stop it!

      Hmmm – it is difficult to tell. It will depend on whether he showed other signs of dominance. For example, how did he act with your friend’s dogs?

      If the pee-ing is the only thing, then it could just be a matter of smell. Maybe that was an area that your friend’s dogs have gone before, or which particularly smells like them, which will be very tempting for another dog to want to leave their own scent. Dogs have a very strong instinct to pee where other dogs have peed before. Kindda like leaving their calling card.

      When Sephy is at the training facility (in a daycare center) the first thing he will do is usually go around and explore everything in the environment, then sometimes he will mark a bit here and there where it strongly smells like other dogs. I think it is normal canine behavior.

      In terms of stopping it – you would pretty much do the same thing as you would with potty training in your own house. Dogs don’t usually generalize across different locations, so while Shiba may have learned potty rules in your house, he does not understand that the same rules apply in your friend’s house and possibly does not understand how that is different from when he is walking outside. Maybe after training him on multiple houses, he may generalize to certain types of houses.

  91. Bart says

    We adopted an 19mo old male shiba 2 months ago. He has food aggression issues, but we’re working with a behaviorialist and have established rules for him so we’re pack leaders. We are currently hand-feeding and have a definitive feeding plan in place for next 8 weeks.

    He still will occasionally bite at our feet when he doesnt want us to go in a certain area. He’s bitten through a few shoes! I’m pretty sure it’s just him being dominant and challenging our role as the “alpha”. The behavioralist said to ignore him when he does this, but that doesnt work.

    Have you encountered this problem? If so, how did you deal with it?

    • shibashake says

      One thing that has worked very well for me is to use a drag lead and a flat collar. My Shiba is now about 3 and although I don’t have to use the drag lead much anymore, I still leave it on.

      When he bites, or performs one of his Shiba moves on me I would non-mark him (No or ack-ack) and stop him with the drag lead. Then I get him to do something else – e.g. go to mat. If he ignores the command and goes back to his previous behavior, I say Timeout and put him in timeout in the laundry room. If he complies with the command he gets rewarded with attention and sometimes food rewards.

      Here is more on what I do with the drag-lead

      However, I am not a trainer, so you may want to ask your behaviorist and see what he/she says. In general you want to use a consistent set of techniques so that there is no confusion for the dog.

  92. Karen says

    We have 3 dogs, a spayed female husky who is the dominant dog (8 years old, had since she was a puppy), a neutered male husky (10 years old, had since he was 2), and a spayed husky/chow mix (5 years old, had one year).
    When we first got the husky/chow mix, she and the other female had a few spats, and then my husky laid down the law one day and everything was great for about a year. Now, the husky/chow is afraid to come in the house from the back yard, because the female husky has dominated her at the door. She lays at the door and intimidates her if she tries to come in. Since we have a dog door, they come and go as they please, and this new behavior just started about a month ago. We don’t let her do it when we see it, but I can only imagine how much of this goes on while I’m at work! Now husky/chow won’t even come in for supper.
    How can we change the behavior of either or both of them so that husky/chow feels free to come and go through the door?

    • shibashake says

      Is it possible to keep your female husky in a separate area when you are at work or not home?

      In this way, the Chow mix can have her own space when they are by themselves.
      When you are home, and have time to supervise, then keep a close watch on the door. As soon as the female husky approaches and tries to dominate the Chow, non-mark her (No) and body block her away. Then give her an alternate command, e.g. go to her Mat. If she keeps persisting then a time-out may be appropriate.

      If you do this consistently, she will learn that you set the house rules.

  93. Tosha2 says

    I have a 1 year old, very hyper, Boxer/cattle dog mix. He is generally a good dog but I am having a hard time with a few things. First, he continues to mouth and play nip other dogs and humans. I’ve tried the “ouch” approach which had no effect. I’ve tried holding his mouth shut for 10 seconds and I’ve tried short time outs. Anything else? The more pressing issue at this time is his dominance over other dogs. I love to go to the dog park with him but 50% of the time he gets into it with another dog forcing us to leave. At first I though he just plays rough but I think when he really gets challenged by another dog he gets aggressive and will not leave the other dog alone. I’m getting tired of wondering if it will be a good visit to the park or an embarrassing episode. Any advice? Thanks

    • shibashake says

      Hello Tosha2,
      I know what you mean – my Shiba is like that. When I take him to the dog park he seems to gravitate towards the dogs who don’t want to play with him and then keeps at them.
      One thing that may help is to totally remove him from the enclosed park space when he acts out. Walk with him a bit outside, do some obedience commands, then once he is more calm, you can try again. If he goes back to pestering the same dog, repeat. In this way he learns that if he does not listen he does not get to play.

      In general, however, I am not a big proponent of enclosed dog parks. Here are some reasons why –
      As for the biting on hands, I find that it is generally most effective to follow up the non-mark (e.g. ouch or No) with an alternate command. This way he not only learns what he shouldn’t do, but also what he should do instead. Make sure to reward him with some calm play or calm affection when he complies with the alternate command. This way, he learns that doing the alternate behavior gets him attention and rewards whereas biting gets him nothing or a time-out.

  94. pst says

    After reading your post, I have to say it fully sounds like your dog dominates you. If you have to constantly reinforce the same “laws” you have implemented then you are obviously are not the “alpha dog”. If you have a significant other, then that person is breaking the rules you implied, which is in turn being learned by the dogs. Or you are showing some sort of favoritism and the “dominant” dog is getting mixed messages.

    • shibashake says

      Thanks for dropping by pst. Your comment made me think of Cesar Millan.

      It is amazing how you know so much and are so sure of everything, without having ever met me, my dogs, or even seen their routine and environment. That is some special talent.

  95. Preggers says

    Hi Shibashake,
    Thank you for the great article and the wonderful advice you’ve been giving everyone. I’ve had dogs all my life, including a fear-aggressive Lhasa Apso rescue, and have never had any problems, until my current dog. My husband and I knew we wanted a family, so we went to a breeder for a gentle family dog, a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy named Charlie. He is 5 years old now, neutered, and is constantly testing boundaries and trying to show dominance. I already do everything you’ve mentioned. I practice NILIF, he has lots of rules, no getting on furniture, no going in the kitchen (he is a very practiced sneak thief and will take and eat anything, including bags of sugar). I don’t greet him immediately upon arriving home, he gets time outs when misbehaving, we practice obedience every day, no rough-housing or tug of war games, etc. We’ve taken him to obedience school (we live in Germany), and the reaction we’ve gotten from every trainer is that Charlie is sweet but extremely temperamental. I used to have the energy for dealing with him, but I’m pregnant with a toddler now and it’s getting stressful to constantly confront his testing of boundaries, not to mention I can’t control him as well on the leash anymore and sometimes just have to let go of the leash (I used to be able to get him to calm down pretty well, but now he fights a lot more). He hadn’t shown aggression either, until just recently. Now when I try to calmly move him into his time out room, he’ll growl and mouth my hand. I don’t like the way things are heading. Any advice?

    • shibashake says

      Congratulations on your upcoming baby 🙂 Boy or girl?
      Bernese Mountain Dogs are really beautiful. Love their coat and face. And a sugar thief?! – lol – Charlie sounds like my Shiba Inu who is also very temperamental.
      One thing that could help is to get a dog walker or to put Charlie in a dog daycare a couple of days a week. This will give you a much needed break, as well as keep Charlie busy.

      I used to have a dog walker do group dog walks with my Shiba Inu at the park – 3 times a week. After these excursions – he is totally pooped and less likely to get into mischief. He also enjoys himself a lot, gets good mental and physical exercise, and gets to socialize with other dogs.

      Another thing that helped with my Shiba Inu is doing private training sessions at home with several different trainers. It helped to have a few trainers observe me interacting with him in a home setting and letting me know where my timing or technique was off. I liked getting different opinions so that I can get a fuller picture of what was going on.

      The thing that made the biggest difference with Shiba is controlling my own energy. Shiba is very smart and knows when I am angry, stressed, or frustrated. Once he sensed this, he would act out even more. Once I controlled my own energy and stayed calm, Shiba’s behavior improved significantly. Controlling my own energy was not easy.

      Here are some of the things that helped me –

      How does Charlie act wrt. your toddler? and other members of the family?
      Has Charlie escalated his behavior recently?
      Has anything else in Charlie’s routine changed?

    • Preggers says

      Hi, Thanks for your response. Don’t know yet what the gender of the new baby is. My toddler completely dominates Charlie. That’s no problem. Our toddler can take toys from Charlie and put his own food down in front of him without worrying about the dog taking the food. My toddler is pretty calm (as far as toddlers go), and treats the dog well (again, as far as toddlers go). Charlie waits for both me and my child to go through doorways before he enters a rooms. My husband is dominated by Charlie. I’ve gotten my husband to make Charlie lie down before giving Charlie attention, but my husband is in charge at work and doesn’t want to worry about being in charge at home. He’s always complaining about Charlie being a roadblock and getting in the way whenever he wants to do something Charlie doesn’t want him to do. Charlie is his first dog. But he works so much that he doesn’t want to put any effort into dog training. I know that’s a problem. I’ve shown him Dog Whisperer and talked to him about it for 5 years, I don’t think I’m going to change his behavior.
      Personally, I’m a very calm and assertive person. I’m always being complemented for being easy going and yet authoritative and rise to leadership positions without pursuing them whenever I’m in a group. Like I said, I never had a problem with a dog before. I’ve often been the only person in a group that can deal with a troubled dog. I’ve watched Cesar Millan and feel I do a pretty good job of having calm-assertive energy.
      Our neighbors love Charlie, and we live in a rural area, he’s sort of the neighborhood mascot and we’re known in town as “Charlie’s owners”. My husband takes him on short walks every morning and evening. I often take him on 30-60 minute walks through pasture, woods and farmland most days (if I can’t do the walk, we go out to a pasture and play fetch until he can’t stand up anymore), on weekends he usually gets a long hike with my husband. We’ve got teenagers across the street that take him 3-4 times a week for a walk and play (they’re usually out 2 hours + and walk to neighboring towns with him to see friends), plus our next door neighbor takes him a couple times a month as well. So I can’t see that lack of exercise is a problem.
      His behavior has escalated in the last couple months. He never growled at me before then. We’ve also had to start locking him in the hallway (closing and locking the doors to all rooms) when we leave because he will destroy things when we’re gone. He’s learned to open doors if the doors aren’t locked and will get diapers out of the diaper pail, or toilet paper off the toilet paper holder and tear them up. He’ll also go through the trash can and shred any paper products he finds.
      His energy level has never declined since we’ve had him, which I think is really unusual for a Berner. I had a husky before and that was normal for that breed, but Charlie still has the energy level of a puppy at 5 years old. When we’re away from home, he stays at a luxury dog hotel where he gets two long group walks and group play every day and he is placed with the young dogs because the dogs his age can’t deal with his energy level. They love Charlie there, but said he breaks into their food storage area regularly.
      I guess, typing all this out, maybe the problem is perhaps my husband being inconsistent about the rules. I don’t really know how to take a different approach to him though!

  96. Shnookey says

    I just got a Olde English bulldog that is 2 years old. HE is INSANELY hyper. Obviously never had any disipline. Jumps on you constantly despite the “knee” trick. We only pet him when he is not jumping, and praise him for it, then stop as soon as he is jumping again. Anyhow, he is uncontrollably hyper. Pinning him down reluts in him thinking you are playing and him trying to bite on you (in play) which we discourage. The bigger problem is trying to introduce him to our other male dogs. We do breed, and plan on breeding him some day. So none of our dogs are neautered. And there are females present. Introducing males to the pack has usually gone pretty smooth. But being he is so hyper AND he wants to dominate everyone.,..has made it difficult. He tries to hump all the male dogs. And they don’t want any part of it. We have an English mastiff, much bigger than him, that is dominant of everyone. He is so gentle and sweet. But lets them know right off he is the bigger dog and gently grabs them to show his dominance (grabs them with his legs not mouth). Well this new hyper boy leaps nad jumps and tries to dominate everyone. We can tell him NO, pull him off, nothing works. He ignores us completely. He has no respect for us at all. It’s like we are not even there. So we don’t know how to get this hyper boy to CALM DOWN and realize he is not the leader of the pack, and respect the other dogs as well. Any help please apreciated.

    • shibashake says

      I do not breed dogs, and therefore have little experience with unfixed dogs.
      The kneeing thing never worked well for me either. In fact it got my Shiba even more excited and crazy. What worked well with my Shiba whenever he got overly excited, is to stay calm, and not interact with him physically. If he did not stop, I just removed him (by drag lead with a flat collar) to time-out so that he could calm down. That way he learned that crazy behavior means don’t get to be with people or dogs, and calm behavior means he gets to play.

      I also make sure that he is very well exercised. After he gets rid of his excited energy, he is easier to retrain while at home.

      Another thing that really helped me a lot when I was having troubles with my Shiba is visiting the Shiba breeders that lived nearby. They were very helpful and let me know what to expect from my Shiba and what were normal Shiba behaviors.

      They may be a great resource for you as well. I used the breeder directory at the AKC site.

      A professional trainer with breed specific experience can also be very helpful.

  97. The Spirit Dog says

    You have some very good and helpful information on your post, but part of the problem in regards to explaining behaviors is that we often misinterpret our dogs intentions as something else.
    Case in point being the above photo with the caption, “Dominant Dog – Shiba Inu Sephy testing his boundaries.” Sephy’s, not really testing boundaries in this photo, this is more or less a “This looks like it could be fun” thing, until of course he saw what I can only imagine was the photographers displeasure with this act.
    ( Of course this could also be a look of “Better get away from my stuff”, because dogs of different personalities will often display similar body languages while their intent being different.)
    Although some may describe this act as an exploratory behavior, it’s based in fun nonetheless. As I’m sure this little guy already knows there’s great fun to be had with all the cool stuff in this box.

    • shibashake says

      What you say is very true. We often misinterpret our dog’s actions, and perhaps think it is dominance behavior when often, it is not. I find dogs fascinating, so I always try to observe my guys very closely and learn all I can about what they are trying to tell me. Still, I probably miss a lot of what they say because their body language goes by so rapidly.

      As for the photo – you are right that my Shiba does a lot of these things because he thinks they are fun. He also thinks that challenging his boundaries is great fun. He is a great character and is always trying out new things and testing old things. Sometimes he reminds me of that Verizon commercial – except he asks – Can I do this now? 🙂
      I understand and agree that dominance is not at the root of all ills, but I do think that dominance sometimes does apply.

  98. only1dog says


    when i take my dog to the off leash park he acts like the great dog i know he is but when we run into this one dog who is the same breed, just younger he’s super dominant.

    at first i thought it was because he wasn’t nuetered and he was older but now that he is nuetered, he hasnt changed his behavior.

    how do i challenge his dominace wen its only towards one dog?


    he plays with every other dog fine and he listens reativley well wen at home! its one dog and theyve only met twice!

    • shibashake says

      Hello only1dog,

      It could be any number of things – the way the other dog holds himself, (is the other dog neutered?), the way the other dog smells, or the way the other dog acts. It may be best to just keep them apart.

      One possibility is to call our dog back to us, whenever we notice him focusing-on or moving towards other dog. I also play with my dog for a bit to distract him, then let him get back to the other dogs.

      If he doesn’t listen and keeps going after the one dog, I just calmly get him and make him stay by me for a while. This will teach him that if he tries to engage the one dog, he doesn’t get to play at all. We may need to repeat this exercise more than a few times before he learns to leave the one dog alone.

      Another possibility is to slowly desensitize our dog to the other dog, but in order to do that, we need to do one-on-one training, in a quiet place, with just our dog and the one dog.

  99. katiee says

    hey! awesome article, it helps alot.
    my dog is a fixed ~1.5 year old brittany. we only realise it now, but we brought him up wrong, with love, affection and praise before rules and boundaries.. and as a result, he tries to be dominant. we taught him tons of tricks and now that we’ve changed the relationship a bit, he’s becoming a lot better. except now he’s starting to show aggression.
    we brought him to the dog park today, and we went insane. he saw a smaller dog and immediately began to bark viciously, and tried to lunge through the fence. we didn’t let him in, but we left. before we left though, he bit my sister who tried to first pull him away, then tried the alpha roll. he goes into such a state that the skin around his eyes turn purple and his eye balls red.
    that’s happened a few times before, and all with smaller dogs at that same park. i want to overcome this behavior. what should we do in those situations- leave, or try to calm him and introduce him to the dogs? should we get a professional trainer?

    • shibashake says

      Your situation sounds similar to what I went through with my Shiba Inu. I started out with very little discipline, and he really became a wild child 🙂 Then, I started using aversive techniques including alpha rolls and leash jerks. This was taught to be by a traditional trainer. Things got a bit better for a little bit of time, then Shiba started getting aggressive with me. Here are some things that helped me –

      1. Stop doing alpha rolls. Alpha rolls are extremely difficult to implement properly and can often encourage aggression in dogs. This University of Pennsylvania study shows that using aversive techniques (including alpha rolls and leash jerks)increased aggression in 1 of the 4 dogs that they surveyed.

      2. Switch to reward based dog training. I used to think that reward training is not going to be effective for a dominant dog, but it really worked a lot better for me than the physical aversive techniques I was using. Reward training can be used to both encourage good behaviors as well as stop bad behaviors.

      3. Start small. I would stay away from dog parks for now. The dog park environment can be very high stress, very high stimulus for a dog. What you want to do is slowly desensitize him to other dogs in a more quiet and controlled environment.

      4. With aggression issues, it can be very helpful to get a professional trainer. I would recommend getting a positive reinforcement trainer as opposed to the traditional physical force trainers. Once I switched over to reward training and started instituting some rules and routine with my Shiba, he started acting well and there was a great reduction in his bite instinct. Nowadays, his first instinct is still to use his mouth, but usually he will think and stop himself before he escalates.
      I would also highly recommend bite-inhibition training. It really saved me from my Shiba when he was leash biting, people biting, and leg humping and whatever else.

  100. Kay says

    Hi shibashake,

    I have two shibas one dominant female and one non-dominant male, both being fixed. My sister rescently got a male shiba that is fixed but he is dominant. We were hoping that eventually they would be able to get along. But i was wondering if they would be able to, since my female and male are so closely bonded, if it would cause a dominance fight between all the dogs. i know shibas are VERY attached to there owners and family members, so would it be a bad idea to see if they would get along all in all?

    • shibashake says

      How old are your Shibas and how do they usually act with other dogs? How old is your sister’s Shiba and how does he act with other dogs? This will largely determine how you approach introducing them to your sister’s dog.

      When I organize meetings, I make sure to take proper precautions so that everybody remains safe. It may be better to have the first few meetings on neutral ground.

      I usually start by just walking the dogs in the general vicinity of each other and see how they react. I make sure NOT to walk them head-on as that is usually seen as a challenge. I always have space between them and make sure there are no head-to-head meetings.

      I only let the dogs go if I am totally confident that they will get along. Initially, I may leave the leashes on, and let them drag it around, so that it will be easier to stop any misbehavior. I make sure they all have flat collars on and NOT aversive collars as that can cause injury during play.

      It is also a good idea to introduce the dogs one-on-one. Initially, I only let my non-dominant dog meet with the new dog. If all goes well, then I try with the next less dominant dog, etc. Note that the dynamic may totally change once multiple dogs are together so make sure to keep careful watch and make safety be a priority. I closely supervise them and interrupt them before they escalate into any kind of aggression. Do not leave them alone for any period of time.

      I make sure to stop play from time to time so that they do not get over-excited which can sometimes also lead to aggression. It is a good idea anyway to stop play from time to time and insert some human play time in-between.

  101. KCDogguy says

    What studies show that tug-of-war and rough housing lead to dominance? Rooney and Bradshaw performed studies with 14 dogs and found no affect to confidence/dominance behavior. In fact, play training (including tug-of-war and controlled rough housing) leads to stronger bonds between humans and dogs. Reference pg 322-326 Handbook of Applied Dog Behavior and Training: Adaptation and learning By Steven R. Lindsay.

    Also, nervous, undersocialized and scared dogs with little confidence show more aggressive than dominant dogs. Just a different way of looking at things. Nice site. I also have two shibas and an Akita.

    Two paws up


    • shibashake says

      I think wrt. Tug-of-War and rough-housing, it is the type of behavior that it encourages and gets the dog to practice on people. Rough-housing can encourage dogs to mouth on people, and tug can encourage dogs to pull on objects held or attached to people.

      If played with proper rules on most dogs it is probably not an issue. However, problems arise when these games are played with no rules, or improper rules, which can teach dogs that if they mouth or pull hard enough, they get what they want.

      I don’t rough-house with my Shiba because he is a very mouthy dog and that is not the type of behavior that I want to encourage in him. He gets to rough-house with other dogs but not with humans. My Siberian Husky has a much calmer temperament, so I am less strict with her.

      I think it all depends on how the games are played and the temperament of the dogs involved.

  102. Max says

    Hello shibashake,

    My familly and I have a 9 month old German Shepherd male not fixed yet. He has recently been barking a lot at people without dogs. He is fine when we take him off leash to dog parks and doesn’t even care for other people there but around the house and if we take him someplace other than dog parks he won’t stop barking when he see’s a dogless person. At first he would only bark and not come close to a person but latley he is becoming more and more fearless and getting closer and closer. He has been to obedience training a while back but the commands he does know and listen to in the home and dog park environment go out the window around people with no dogs.

    Any advice would be helpful.


    • shibashake says

      Two things that help with my dogs – 1. Desensitization to people and ultimately 2. Socialization to a wide variety of people.

      I start with desensitization exercises first. The article below describes desensitization of a dog to other dogs, but the process is similar wrt. desensitization with a human. Just make sure that to take all the safety precautions – if we think our dog may bite, then use a basket muzzle and have him on a secure leash.

      With the desensitization process we are trying to teach our dog to look to us for direction whenever he is stressed or unsure what to do. It is also a great way to brush up on obedience commands, and to create a stronger bond with our dog.

      Once I progress through the desensitization process and can get close enough to the other human without my dog showing any reactive behavior, I have the other person throw my dog some really good treats. This helps him make positive associations with people. If we keep repeating this, he will soon look forward to seeing people because it means good treats for him.

      Once my dog is comfortable around one person, I try having the person move around and also have a variety of different people dressed in many different ways (e.g. big hats, with umbrellas, with sunglasses, baseball cap, men, women, old people, young people etc).

      Dogs don’t tend to generalize something across multiple different situations, so we must desensitize them to a variety of different situations to help them make that generalization.

      If our dog starts to escalate his behavior, I would get a professional trainer who can observe him in real time and accurately identify the source of his reactivity.

      I would also consider the neutering process. It can (but not always) reduce reactive behaviors, and will also save us the hassle of really supervising our dog closely whenever there are female dogs around, especially female dogs that are going into heat.

  103. Dr. Jeckyll's companion says

    Hi, I have a 3 year old french bulldog that is totally Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde. He can be affectionate and sweet when he wants to be but when he’s off he’s off. In particular when my adult son comes home for awhile. As soon as my son walks in the house the dog is all over him and seems very, VERY happy to see him but 10 minutes later he will be most likely growling at my son the next time he tries to touch him. I can’t stand this on again off again Cujo attitude. What can I do.

    • shibashake says

      I teach my dog what is appropriate behavior when interacting with guests and visitors. In the beginning it is best not to allow any roughhousing at all – no jumping, no biting (even in play) and no growling.

      When a friend/relative comes, I ask him to totally ignore the dog. Fold his arms, and institute the no talk, no touch, and no eye-contact rule. No eye contact is especially important because that can be seen as attention and an invitation.  When the dog jumps, I get my friend to turn away from my dog (not move away, just turn away, calmly).

      Also I have my dog on a lead. If he tries to play-bite, or growl, *I* no-mark him (No or ack-ack). If he ignores me and continues with his biting, then I say “Time-out” and remove him to a time-out area. I leave him in there for about 30 seconds and repeat the meeting exercise. If he play-bites or growls again and ignores my no-mark, I put him in time-out for a longer duration (1-2 minutes).

      The time-out teaches my dog that if he doesn’t behave well with guests, he doesn’t get to be with them or the family at all. He will quickly learned that in order to be with people, he has to follow certain rules. I make sure to consistently enforce those rules.

      I only give my dog attention when he is calm and following commands. I always follow the NILIF program with my dogs – i.e. I ask them to do something for me before I give them anything in return – even affection. This can be as simple as asking for a Sit before giving them affection.

      I make sure to always be calm and consistent when interacting with my dog.

      It is also best not to play any dominance or physical-games with our dog while we are retraining him especially tug-of-war.

      Also, many dogs are sensitive to touching, hugging, and handling. Here is an article on how to train a dog to enjoy human affection –

    • shibashake says

      Hello Travis,

      Thank you for the link. I think that is a very excellent article which I am definitely going to bookmark.

      I agree with pretty much everything in the article. Following a strict dominance theory based training method is ultimately detrimental to the human-dog relationship.

      However, dominance behaviors do exist in dogs – not all the time – but sometimes they do exhibit dominance behaviors. For example, many enclosed dog parks do not allow intact males because an intact male may start posturing to the females, and incite other male dogs to posture back which could ultimately result in a fight.

      There is a strong backlash, I think, towards all dominance concepts because there are many dog owners who try to attribute everything towards dominance, and as a result develop an antagonistic relationship with their dogs as described in the article. In fact, as pointed out by the article and also by scientific studies, it is rarely about dominance.

      I think dominance behaviors do sometimes exist in dogs, as they also do sometimes exist in humans. However, I think that this only occurs very occasionally as most of the time both dogs and humans are busy living their lives and trying to be happy – not trying to pick a fight with someone else.

      The other important thing to consider, I think, is *how* to deal with dominance behaviors. Believers of dominance theory often think that the best way to deal with dominance is through physical force, which I strongly disagree with. As stated in the article, the best way to achieve leadership is through the control of resources.

      Another interesting question in the article is whether dominance=leadership. In many ways, I think it is not very helpful to get into a semantics argument about which terms to use. The dictionary defines dominance to be influence and control, and leadership to be guidance and direction. All I can say is that you say potato, I say potato.

      Ultimately, what matters most to me are which methods will bring about the best quality of life for my dogs and which will help build a strong relationship that is based on mutual trust and respect.

      Thanks for the great link!

    • shibashake says

      Thanks for sharing a picture of your lovely dogs. Love their smiles and all those toys 🙂

      My dogs pounce on each other all the time in play. They both like wrestling a lot. Sometimes though, if the younger dog is bothering my older one too much, I will step in and stop her. Sometimes, the older dog just needs some rest time and a break 🙂

  104. dog lover2121 says

    My dog is a chihuaha/yorki he has a thing for attacking this terrior that is non nuertierd like him and he only plays with nuertierd dog and rarley plays with non nuetierd and i need help to get him not to attack the terrior and to become friends with all non nuertierd males at home and at the dog park and not be protective over female dogs so pleasegive me some good tips for small dogs

    • shibashake says

      If you do not plan to breed your dog regularly, then it is best to neuter him. If you leave him intact and do not provide him an outlet for his physical needs, he will get frustrated and this will manifest itself in all the things you describe and more.

      It is generally *not* a good idea to bring unneutered dogs to the dog park. Unneutered dogs tend to posture a lot more and this may trigger a fight with both neutered and unneutered dogs. It is instinct for an unneutered dog to want to claim female mates by posturing and challenge other male dogs for those mates.

      Here is a good article on the facts and myths of neutering –

    • doglover2121 says

      We are planing to breed my dog there is this one chihuaha male non nueterd he plays with but the other dog wont play with him and he gets mad but wont fightMe nor my dad want to get him nueterd. He loves to play with big dogs even if they are nueterd or not but i dont get that.

    • doglover2121 says

      Questions about females we are going to breed my male dog with my sisters female buthe female is stubern and loves to play and i dont know if she will give him a chance to mate with her when she gos into heat. she lives with my grandparents and they have a male dog that my dog gets along with but will he hurt the puppys because there not his or should she breed and give birth at my house or let my dog stay at my sisters house.

    • shibashake says

      Hello doglover,

      I am afraid I won’t be much help to you. I am not a breeder so I do not know much about the whole process.

      From talking to my Siberian breeder it seems that it is a very stressful affair, involving a lot of work, worry, and high vet bills. In her last litter, her dog stopped giving birth after two pups and my breeder had to rush the dog to the emergency room for a c-section. Sadly one of the pups didn’t make it, and the other one is our sweet Shania- Shania is an awesome puppy but she had a lot of complications due to her c-section birth.

      And after the birth, my breeder had to put in a lot of time caring for the puppies and finding them good homes. The vet bills were also out of this world :-/

      After hearing all this, I just want to enjoy my dogs and have no interest in breeding them 🙂

      Sorry I could not be of more help.

    • doglover2121 says

      We can offord the vet bills but is it a problem if the puppys are around the other male dog that lives with my dogs mate will he kill or harm the puppys because they arnt his or should they mate at my house and should she give birth at my house.When the girl dog is pregnant my dog will stay at there house or the female come to my houseand give birth at my house.My question is it bad for the puppys to be around a male dog thats not there dad and my dogs going to be very protctive of her when she is pregnant and when the puppys are born

    • shibashake says

      A breeder is probably the best person to answer your questions. One thing you can try is to look up some accredited Chihuahua breeders from the AKC website, and give some of them a call.

      I did that when I was having some behavior issues with my Shiba Inu and many were very helpful.

      You can also try asking your vet but I think a breeder would know more.

  105. Tiff says

    I’ve got a female dog who is very loving towards people. Yet when it comes to another of our female dogs, she’s rather aggressive. They’ve gotten into some pretty nasty fights. We think it’s a dominance issue. Is there any way to “cure” our dog from fighting the other?

    • shibashake says

      Hi Tiff,

      It is possible to desensitize them to each other so that they will learn to associate something positive to the other being in the room.

      This task will require two people. Get something really yummy for each dog – they *only* get this yummy treat during desensitization exercises. Then when they are together, they both get treated. Take one of them away, and the treating stops, bring the other one back, then start treating again.

      Make sure that the dogs and people are safe at all times. Both dogs should be on leashes, and make sure they are far enough apart from each other initially that they are not reacting.

      This article has more details the dog-to-dog desensitization process.

      During training you want to manage them carefully so that they are separated at other times. You do not want them practicing aggression with each other on their own as that will set back the desensitization work you are doing.

  106. Major's Mum says

    I have a 3 year old Pit Bull. He is very loving, and has NEVER shown any signs of aggression. We recently had to move in with some family who have a lab chow mix. She’s older and has been fixed. (My Pit has not). He has been obsessed with her lately. He follows her everywhere… has to know where she is at all times, and if we seperate them, he will lay at the door and sob. If we pet the lab/chow, he will come and push her out of the way. She constantly growls at him, as he’s always sniffing her butt and trying to mount her. We’ve become exhausted with telling him to leave her alone and having to seperate them. The female shows signs of wanting to co-exist with him, but he is constantly showing her who’s boss. In saying that, he shows no signs of that with us. Although has been known to try and hump visitors. I have done a lot of reading up on this, and I think it is a dominance thing. He has always been by himself and we allowed him to be on the couch and the bed which i’m now reading is a bad thing. I have read that I need to stop allowing him on the furniture, make him leave the room when we are eating and ensure he’s never fed from the table, and limit his toys in order to make him stop. I also read that if he shows signs of dominance that I should pin him to the floor until he is calm, and release him. Are these tactics correct? Is there anything else I can do? If so, how long will this process take??

    Thanks in advance!

    • shibashake says

      Dog training or dog behavior modification is filled with a lot of different opinions. Here are some things that worked on my dominant dog:

      1. Follow the Nothing in Life is Free program. Always make your dog do something for you (e.g. look at you or Sit) before he gets anything including food, toys, opening the door for him, etc.

      2. Start doing short obedience training sessions with him every day. This not only helps with dominance but will also enhance your bond. Start with very simple commands e.g. Sit.

      3. Do not allow him to engage in dominance displays – e.g. humping. As soon as he humps another dog or a visitor or anybody, non-mark him (No), and put him in a time-out (it is best if the time-out area is not his crate. Find a safe boring room to put him in briefly.) After a brief time-out, bring him out and try again. It may be easier to have a flat-collar and lead on him while doing this for easier control. Make sure to praise and reward him when he greets people properly and does not engage in humping.

      4. Do not play dominance games (e.g. Tug-of-War) with him, and do not rough-house with him.

      5. For the time being, do not let him on furniture. It is also good to institute other rules that make sense to you around the house so that you can prevent dominance displays from even arising. For example, by not allowing the dog on furniture, you prevent any possibility of him thinking that the couch is his or him trying to protect it. The less he practices dominance displays, the less likely he will continue doing it in future.

      In answer to your questions:

      1. Feeding from the table – It may be best to stop this practice. A dog that is constantly fed from the table will always beg by the table, may get insistent during meal times and may become disruptive. Table scraps are also generally too rich for dogs and may upset their digestion. I have fixed meal times for my dogs, and make them work for all their food either through obedience and grooming sessions, or from interactive toys. I feed them high-protein dry kibble (e.g. Innova EVO, Orijen, Wellness CORE, Nature’s Variety Instinct).

      2. Limit toys – The most important thing here is to follow the NILIF program, i.e. to show your dog that all resources belong to you and to get a resource, he must do something for you first. So yes, it is good practice to store all his toys, and cycle through two or three different ones every day. Make sure he does some obedience commands for you before he gets his toys.  Cycling through toys will also make them seem more new to your dog and make him more interested in playing with them.

      3. Pin him to the ground – This is sometimes also referred to as alpha rolls. I tried this initially on my dominant Shiba and it DID NOT work out well. This is one of the areas where there is much disagreement in the dog training world. For me, alpha rolls only eroded my dog’s trust in me, and made him very sensitive to handling. It also made him fight back a lot more because he felt extremely threatened. More about alpha rolls …  

      4. Anything else that may help – Neutering may also help with humping and other dominance displays. The “following female” behavior may also stem from this. Your vet will be able to best advice you on this issue.

      5. How long – This will be different based on different dogs. I started to see change in my Shiba fairly quickly (in a matter of days). The thing that made the most difference for me was in controlling my energy (staying calm and in control), and following the NILIF program. My Shiba is a pretty good citizen nowadays but he will still challenge me from time to time; just to test his boundaries.   

      Hope this helps. Let me know if you have further questions or clarifications.

    • shibashake says

      Hi Linda. You are very lucky that Mochi is such a sweet girl. My Shiba, Sephy, is a “terror that flaps in the night” 🙂

      Thanks for the pictures. Mochi looks lovely! Can I put up a picture of her on my website? I will link back to your Flickr page. Let me know. Thanks.

    • Linda says

      Sure thing 🙂 Feel free to put her picture on your site.

      Wow…Sephy is really adorable for a “terror that flaps in the night”. LOL!

    • shibashake says

      Thanks Linda! If you want to put up a different description of Mochi let me know. Btw, how is Mochi after her spay?

    • Linda says

      Mochi is doing really well right now. When I picked her up at the vet after the surgery, she looked SO sad. I ran to kneel beside her and hugged her while my boyfriend talked to the vet assistants.

      That night, she was pretty drugged so she’d walk a few steps, fall asleep, suddenly wake up, walk a few steps, and fall asleep…and it repeated. By the second day, she was up and running as if nothing happened, so it took some time to calm her down since she’s not supposed to be running around.

      She’s getting her stitches out this week. I’m so excited because I feel so bad that she can’t play. Everytime she does the ‘front-paws-down-butt-in-the-air-I-wanna-play’ thing, we have to stop her.

      Thank you for asking. 🙂

      Also, I read in your profile that you like anime and RPGs. Same here! In fact, I go to anime expos every year…and own every single game console (PS3, 360, Wii…) including the hand held ones like the PSP and NDS. LOL!

    • shibashake says

      I am so glad to hear that Mochi is doing well. Sephy was practically climbing up walls by the time the incision healed.

      That is so awesome that you have all the game machines. I used to be very addicted to online RPGs before I got my dogs. I was big into FF online, and then WoW. Now I mostly stick to single player games because I can’t devote the focus needed for an online RPG.

      What anime do you like? I really like Saiyuki. I haven’t been watching too many new ones, so recommend me some. Anything with good looking guys will work for me 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.