There are a couple of signals that you need to watch out if you suspect that your dog has developed dominance issues. If your dog has couple of the behavior habits listed below, it doesn't necessarily mean that your Collie has dominance issues. It's sometimes easy to confuse dominance with just normal dog behavior, so don't jump to conclusions too quickly.
- Leash Pulling - A collie that likes to lead the rest of the pack thinks that she or he is the leader of the pack. So if your Border collie starts leading you where it wants to go instead of listening to you, it could be showing early signs of dominant behavior. However sometimes leash pulling could be a symptom of other problems, like a dog that's too excited or a dog doesn't get enough walks.
- Food Bowl Aggression - If your dog starts growling or is distrustful of you touching his bowl when he is eating then it could be a sign of dominance. Again, if you're collie does this, it doesn't mean that it's aggressive. A lot of dogs that don't have disobedience problems act this way as well.
- Food begging - This signal is another one of those "maybe" ones. Constant begging for food, even after a meal could mean that the dog thinks he or she deserves to eat the food first, instead of you. Or it could just mean that the dog just loves human food!
- Refuses to listen to you - Blatant disobedience and refusal to perform tricks that he or she already knows is a good indicator of early dominance problems. If you know that your Collie knows how to do the trick but she still doesn't want to do it, chances are that she feels like she doesn't have to listen to you.
- Growling when you push them off the bed - If you try to push your Border Collie off the bed and the response you get is a growl then there is a good chance that the Collie feels like you don’t have the authority to boss her around.
- Any sort of growling or aggression towards you - This one of course depends on the situation. If your dog is growling at you when you play with his toys, go near his bed or try to boss him around then the dog thinks you're not a fit leader and doesn't have any trust in you. To learn more about Border Collie aggression click here to read Aggression article.
Dealing with a Dominant Border Collie
If your Border Collie is losing trust in you and is questioning your actions then it means she doesn't see you as the Alpha Dog, or the pack leader. This means that you have to show your Collie that you have the qualities to lead the pack to regain his trust.
The most effective way to do that is to start simple and basic obedience training. Start practicing already known tricks with your dog while also adding in new tricks for him to learn. In the wild, the alpha dog is the one that teaches the rest of the pack how to behave and tells them what to do, which will exactly what you will be doing.
Simple tips to help you deal with Border Collie Dominance
- Walk tall and proud around your Border Collie - This sounds so simple but trust me, dogs are really good at sensing people's emotions and one of the qualities they look for in a leader is confidence.
- Always reward your dog for listening to you - You want your dog to know that if he listens then he will be rewarded. The reward doesn't always have to be a treat. Just a pat on the head along with a "Good boy" will work just as well.
- Never bribe or trick your dog into listening to you - Rewarding is one thing, but tricking your dog into listening is completely different. You will be giving away your leadership and authority if your Border Collie only does things on his own terms.
- Ignore your dog when he starts begging for scraps - Don't give into the temptation of giving him a little taste of your dinner. Remember that you have to always set the terms as the leader. So if you must treat him, make him perform a trick to earn the reward.
What NOT to do with a Dominant Border Collie
Believe it or not I've read some of these so called "tips" in dog training books and even found some on popular dog training websites. Please, never do any of the following. It will only harm the relationship between you and your dog and can lead to further aggression problems.
- Do Not... Bite your dog's ear. As ridicules as this sounds, some people actually do it! Your dog won't respect you after you bite his ear, he will think you're a crazy maniac!
- Do Not… Wrestle with your dog to show him you are the alpha. It's cruel, ineffective and unnecessary.
- Do Not… Starve your Collie. Controlling the food is one thing, but starving the dog is straight up animal cruelty.
- Do Not… Follow any advice that suggests you punish your dog to show your dominance. The person who gave you that advice doesn't know anything about Border Collies at all.
To learn more about how to deal with a disobedient and dominant Border Collie, check out the Border Collie Owners Guide. It's the most complete guide that covers everything you need to raise happy puppy and the exact steps to take to solve obedience problems. Click here to learn more...