Dominance Aggression

One area people often meet with confusion is aggressive displays of dominance, termed Dominance Aggression. Dominance Aggression is not often violent or even physical, and is almost always delivered downwards in the family/pack hierarchy. Displays of dominant aggression can be as subtle as your dog demanding you to give him affection or ignoring commands. Similarly, displays of submission can be as subtle as the Doberman owner walking away from a Doberman’s food as the Doberman walks toward it.

It is important to understand Dominance Aggression in Dobermans because they have been bred for the dominant alpha traits. The ideal Doberman, in fact, is an alpha dog. It is important for all dog owners to maintain their status as the alpha dog but with the Doberman it can be more difficult. The key, again, is consistency and training – what you say goes; not some times, all times.

In the worst case, a dominant dog may attempt to challenge an upper pack member who happens to be a person. Equally bad, is a dog who has determined his place in the hierarchy is above a person, and one day feels he is being challenged by that person.

In either case, there will have been plenty of both subtle and obvious displays of dominance aggression that went unnoticed or ignored. Either case could also result in a bite from the dog, though not usually a bad one. Remember, the dog’s motivation here is asserting his perceived place in the hierarchy – not to cause injury. Dogs often deliver a correction bite to each other and not only to assert dominance. The correction bite is not a grasping bite and does not use the strength in the jaw. It's delivered usually with a sharp bark and a growl, using the teeth to nudge sideways, rather than a grab with a fighting or hunting bite.

Preventing such events is as simple as maintaining the dog as part of the family, consistent training, and recognizing Dominance Aggression  in its subtle stage.

Doberman owners should also learn to recognize and understand the different drives. This is how dogs communicate. If you can understand what a dog is communicating, you will be able to train much more effectively, as well as avoid problems.