Submissive behaviors offer protection in the dog world.  In a canine confrontation, if one dog rolls over on his back, the more assertive dog will generally cease hostilities (but not always!).  Licking the dominant dogs mouth, laying the ears back, lifting the paw, and urinating submissively are other behaviors that indicate a dog is willing to take orders.


Dogs explore the world through their noses.  They get acquainted by sniffing each other, front and rear.  Do not hold your dog’s leash tightly while he sniffs another dog. 

It's important to remember the "2 Second Rule".  A good example that I always use is a gentlemen's handshake.  There's an unspoken rule when two men shake hands that you only grip for a quick second or two.....anything over that just because very weird and possible interpreted totally wrong!  Same things for dogs.  Sniffing is how they get to know each other, but anything over the "just a few seconds" is considered rude and asking for trouble.

If he keeps his head and body raised high, which will automatically happen if you hold the lead tight,  he may inadvertently seem dominant or aggressive to the other dog thereby provoking an unnecessary fight.



Aggression looks almost like alertness.  The tails and ears are up.  The tail may be wagging, however, the hair on the back of the aggressive dog’s neck will generally stand on end.  He may also bark assertively.


A dog can display two highly contrasting kinds of aggressive behavior – assertive aggression and fear aggression.  Both can lead to biting.  It is wise to become acquainted with the signs of aggression so you can deal quickly with potentially dangerous situations.


A lowered front end in a characteristic legs-splayed position is an invitation to play.  Looks like a little bow.  The play posture is also a "calming signal" used between dogs while they are playing!  When a dog offers a play bow during play, the communication is "We're still playing here...and everything I'm about to do is all play!"

Quick Lesson in Language & Behaviors

Common Behavior Problems

Dogs have a big dilemma.  Many of the things they love to do instinctively are just the things people can’t tolerate!  To live happily in human society, the dog must learn to curb these instinctive behaviors.  Here are some solutions to these common inter-species culture clashes! 

Be sure your dog is well exercised and given plenty of attention and play time with the family.  Dogs who are bored, under-exercised, or that spend too much time in the crate (people tend to do this when the dog is misbehaving because they think it’s easier than trying to deal with the issues) tend to unleash their pent up energy in creative ways!  After a good exercise session, a dog is generally very happy to curl up and nap for awhile.  And a sleeping dog never gets into trouble!

When owners yell at their dogs to be quiet, the dogs think the owners are just joining in on the barking fun!  Avoid this by training your dog to bark on cue, then training him to be quiet on cue.  If you catch her barking, praise her and say a cue word like “Speak”.  Encourage and reward her.  Make it a game.  You can even bark at her if she doesn’t get the idea.  Over the period of a rowdy bark, suddenly say “Quiet”! and put your finger to your lips.  If you surprise her enough, she will stop barking.  Get really excited now!!!  Reward her profusely.  Practice both sides of the equation and soon your dog will understand what “Quiet” means.


One of the most important things every dog must learn is that it is NEVER okay to bite a human.  Proper socialization with people, other dogs and exposure to a variety of slightly stressful experiences is crucial at an early stage.  This way your pup will learn to keep his equilibrium and not resort to biting from fear when confronted with unusual situations.

Puppies (even older puppies) use their mouths on everything!  When they play together, they bite each other.  It’s natural.  When one puppy bites another puppy too hard, the victim yelps.  Then the first puppy lets go and immediately learns to bite more gentle the next time.  Train your puppy not to bite by yelping when she tries to bite you.  Then gradually yelp with softer and softer bites.  Soon she will learn to control herself so she doesn’t damage that unbelievable sensitive human skin! 

Here is another successful method:  Puppies usually bite a hand, arm, or leg that is moving.  This is a natural expression of their chase instinct.  Try holding the body part he is biting very still.  Then with your free hand, point at him and firmly say NO BITE.   When he releases, praise him! 

Dogs (especially puppies) NEED to chew.  Always provide a good chew toy for him.  Praise him when he’s using it.  When he starts to chew on something forbidden, give the command “Leave It” and then replace the forbidden with one of his chew toys.

Separation  Anxiety
Dogs are social animals.  They prefer having the pack nearby.  So many dogs experience separation anxiety when you leave them home alone.  They may whine, bark, or become destructive.  Often this behavior can be eliminated by giving the dog proper attention and exercise.  Be sure to set aside special quality time to spend each day.  Then don’t make a big event of your departure.  Just leave quietly.   Try the whole process and then only leave for a few minutes.  This will show the dog that you ARE returning.  Dogs also tend to be less anxious if you train them in their kennel.  This is their private Idaho and they feel safe and secure there.  HOWEVER…putting the dog in the kennel when acting up is a definite NO!  Please note:  Separation Anxiety can can hit a dog in very minor ways, or it can hit like a charging bull.  If your dog lives with separation anxiety issues that are putting him (or your home) in danger, please consider a private consultation and training to help him figure out that life - and being without you for a little while - doesn't have to be so scary. 

Submissive Urination
Exciting events trigger the peeing urge in so many dogs!  Never ever correct a dog for this problem – scolding only makes the problem worse.  The dog will become even more submissive!   It mostly happens when visitors that the dog doesn’t see daily come over….the dog gets so excited that they piddle.  Usually right there as the visitor is greeting the dog!  Eventually, most puppies grow out of this and it’s only a problem for a while.  With that being said, 99% of the time, your dog doesn't even realize he's releasing his bladder!  It's an almost reflexive behavior brought on usually by excitement and/or submission.  The first step in helping your dog stop doing it?  Just ignore it while it's happening and clean it up.  The second step is to make sure that you use a calm voice (you can even choose to ignore the dog!) upon greeting.  This helps keep the dog's excitement levels down.



An alert dog’s ears perk up and her tail is held high.  The entire dogs looks energized and ready for action.


A dog that is afraid and trying to protect himself (or his food or belongings) looks very different from the dominant aggressive dog.  The ears may lie flat against the head and the tail is tucked between the legs.  The dog snarls threateningly and may bite in self defense.

If this is coming from a young up, you need to let her know that you are not a threat to her, but rather her whole existence.  One way to hurry up and cure this is to practice this while she’s eating or playing with a favorite toy…..get down on the floor with her.  Put some of her food in your hand (taken from her bowl) and ask her eat out of your hand.  When she’s done with the food in your hand, continuously run your hand through the morsels in her bowl…giving her one or two pieces at a time.  Pet her all over her body.  Very soon she will come to see that you are not a threat whatsoever.  Do the same with her toys.  But it’s important to remember that the minute she lets you take the toy away, give it right back to her and praise!  NEVER tease her while doing this exercise!