The Key to Working With Dominant Dogs - The Down Command

>> 9/21/09

Most dominant dogs are not quite sure how to handle themselves when forced to change perspectives. Usually, their natural instinct is straightforward, always reverting back to the need to assert themselves. These dogs will fight back by growling when a firm hand is placed on their shoulder blade. Dogs in this condition are stressed, which leads to little to no interest in food. As a result, the most they'll do is snap, not actually bite with the intention of harming.

Dominant dogs are the most understood of all dog types. Nature has crafted these animals to be active and direct, and this is often augmented by dead-end relationships with people. As such, all change is interpreted as bad when it comes to human interaction.

One advisable way of training these dogs is to induce profound hunger; a dog is often more responsive to the "down" command in this state. The quality of the contract training at this stage is important because the tension between the dog and the trainer is a key issue in the animal's temperament. A trainer in this scenario needs to relax the animal and induce the idea that change is actually good.

After a bit of time, however, it becomes necessary for the trainer to address the issue more directly by withholding food entirely. The dog will have to relearn human touch as if it was a puppy. When the time comes to subtract food from the equation, it is advisable to place your left foot on the dog's lead while holding it in your right hand. Now it is time to pause and observe the dog's reaction – if there is no panic or other intense reactions, the pressure can slowly be increased.

For your own safety, make sure your head is not near the dog, as this will intensify any existing tension from the animal. As the animal relaxes into a submissive state, talking kindly to him will allow his resistance to weaken even further. Petting his back and ribs at this time will also help.

Dogs of this nature need to be the center of focus – you want him to understand that he can achieve this desire by behaving and lying down. You are not attempting to place yourself in the dominant position, as this would cause the dog to again revert back to an aggressive state and negative perception of humans. More directly, you want to communicate to him that he can get what he wants if he is submissive to you.

When the dog is finally fully submissive and lying down, this is the time when you can rub his belly and let him even roll over – he is receiving the positive experience and you want to reinforce this positive interaction within him. While receiving positive feelings from your hand on his belly, he is receiving the same from his back on the ground; this makes for a positive connection overall. In this sense, the dog learns that "down" leads to positive feelings. Repeating this will bring a decrease in resistance with each repetition.

When working with dominant dogs, it is important to recognize that the issue with them is not pure dominance; it is also their brittle nature coupled with strong self-esteem. It is hard to adapt well and embrace new places or people. Due to this double issue; change comes at a slow pace with their strong sense of entitlement and self. Most often, this is incorrectly interpreted by humans as them being tough dogs. When a tough training program is applied to an incorrectly-identified tough dog, the dogs will push back because of their sense of place that has not yet been broken.

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