How to Show a Pitbull Dominance

By Bethany Tate

Is your pitbull’s behavior getting out of hand? Are you struggling to get them to listen to your commands, and you’re wondering who the alpha dog really is? 

As with human relationships, your relationship with your dog needs to be built on trust. Interestingly enough the whole concept of the alpha role as a training technique has its roots in a 1940’s study on wolves. This research was carried out in a captive (ie unnatural) environment. Newer research has since surfaced which suggests that in the wild wolves don’t follow a hierarchy of alphas and betas. Instead they share interconnected relationships with one another more in line with a community than a power structure. 

All that to say that your Pitbull’s behavioral problems are probably not an issue of dominance. When your pit bull misbehaves they’re not trying to intimidate you into submission. Behavioral issues are linked to a lack of training, unclear instruction, or even a lack of relationship between you and your pit bull. 

Start by setting clear boundaries with your pit bull

Make sure there are clear cut rules for your dog. They should know exactly what they can and can’t do in and around the house. When your dog breaks or challenges a rule, correct them in a calm but assertive way. Dogs love structure and clear rules, and correction will actually please your pit bull over time. In general dogs are better behaved when they know what you want. It’s easier for them to understand what they should rather than what they shouldn’t. 

Let’s take a quick example of how to train a bad behavior without worrying about how to dominate your pit bull. Let’s assume your pit bull regular sits on the couch and you don’t want them to. 

An example of positive affirmation over dominance

Getting your pit bull off of the couch

Work on simple clear commands that address the behavior you want to change. If you pit bull sits on the couch tell them “down”, and show them what it means. Focus on rewarding the good behavior rather than punishing the bad. Everytime your pit bull gets off the couch you should praise and reward them. Your dog will begin to understand that getting down is what you want from them. 

Getting your pit bull to stop jumping on people 

The same approach can apply to jumping. Jumping is cute with pit bull puppies, but when you have a full grown pit bull jumping on anyone who walks in the door it’s uncomfortable for everyone. Instead of getting angry and trying to punish your pit bull to show dominance and win obedience from your dog, teach your pup an alternative behavior. 

You should teach your pit bull that when someone comes into the house they should keep all four paws on the floor. When they do, praise them and reward them, they’ll begin to understand what you expect from them. 

Final thoughts

A pit bull’s bad behavior isn’t because your dog doesn’t fear you. Also when your dog doesn’t do what you want them to it’s not because they are trying to dominate you. The dog and owner relationship isn’t one of power, so much as it is of clear expectations and positive affirmation. 

These will go a long way to getting your pit bull under control and building a happy environment for you and them to enjoy together!

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Bethany Tate
Writing and analyzing data are her superpowers. Dogs, nature, and trail running are her oxygen. Bethany passionately believes pets make the world a better place. Her world is made better by Nemo, her pet dachshund.