Dominant dog or dog that just needs training?

Hunter correcting Bars
Hunter correcting Bars

This is a great example of an adult 3 year old M Vizsla correcting adolescent behavior from an 11 month old M Husky.  When the two dogs first met, Bars tried mounting Hunter from the side a couple of times.  Hunter corrected his behavior using the least amount of force.  Bars continued to challenge Hunter, and when he reached his threshold for tolerating the adolescent behavior he increased his signals giving him an inhibited bite to the head.  If you look under Hunters feet, you will see an object.  Hunter wasn’t interested in the object, but did use defending the object as a final choice to correct Bars. 

You may not be able to see Bars is wearing a Gentle Leader.  He was a pushy adolescent.  Bars was sent to live with the parents of a student during his last semester at Rutgers.  He didn’t have time to work with Bars and his behavior was worsening.

The family contacted me and we worked privately.  The owner had told me how assertive he was and how biting was a serious problem.  I didn’t realize this until I tried walking him and he tried to take control of the lead and started biting at my arm.  I suggested fitting him with a Gentle Leader. 

The GL was a huge help in managing a dog that already jumped on people, not only from the front, but when trying to walk away he jumped you from behind.  In this particular case, the Gentle Leader not only helped manage his jumping and lunging but also seemed to provide some natural inhibited features for managing the mouthing.  I’ve seen this before and usually suggest a dog wear a Gentle Leader at all times, even in the house. 

Bars was also mouthy and liked taking control of the lead, again the Gentle Leader provided managment and control while we worked together training him, bringing not only the jumping but the mouthing under control while working on changing his overall behavior.  Bars has received compliments from two vets, his regular vet and an orthopedist. 

I board dogs and provide social access.  I have seen many dogs develop from puppies to adults through training and boarding.  Bars is one of the best dogs I’ve had the pleasure of taking care of and watching him grow.   He has one of the most inhibited bites considering training didn’t begin before his 11th month.  At that time biting was developing into a serious problem for humans. 

This dog might have been labeled as a “dominant” dog by someone else, instead I viewed him as a dog who needed training, boundaries, rules, and opportunities to learn from other adult dogs and how to behave in social environments.  I still see Bars.  What is so interesting is when new dogs meet him, they may challenge him, but in every case, they learn to respect him and end up best friends.

Joyce Kesling, CDBC

Certified Dog Behavior Consultant

Dog Trainer, Dog Behavior Specialist

Sarasota, FL

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