I have a husky. How can I assert dominance?

Not sure how to explain this one, but basically we got a new pup this past May and she’s grown into a (still growing) but large fine bundle of raw energy. When she isn’t running into walls or peeing on the carpet she’s chewing up the place. Including the other dog, the furniture, and even me. Luckily her growing teeth are getting sharp but not that sharp so it’s more annoying when she tries to eat me.

Anyway, I get to thinkin’, and my buddies agree, I need to show myself as the dominant one here between me and Ms. Rebellious. Better I start doing it now, they reckon, when she’s kind of little than before she gets to be the size of a roaming stegasaurus.

I hear wrestling is good, but how does that work? Other than grabbing her and trying to pin her down. Staring at her straight in the eye to intimidate her doesn’t work because she just sees me for the fraud I am before licking me or skipping off to eat a bug. Anyone here with dogs know what to do?

Dog trainer here.

I recommend AGAINST alpha-rolling (wrestling and you ending up “on top”, as it were) unless you really know what you’re doing. I’ve seen too many people get bitten (or playfully nipped) in the process.

With a husky (who can be independed little buggers), I would HIGHLY recommend you go to a good obedience school and take lessons. A good trainer will be able to help you through this tough learning phase and probably save your sanity when puppy hits adolescence. Trust me on this :wink: Even I take dogs to classes! It’s good exercise and it helps to have another pair of eyes watching you and your relationship to your dog…

Your dog has to learn that you control everything. You control her access to food. You control play. If you play tug, never let her win. If she asks for something, make HER give you something first. That also applies to meals.

For example, I have a puppy right now with whom I am doing the Nothing In Life Is Free training (you can look it up online, it would probably help you loads!) to establish myself as the undisputed leader of everything. Pirate is a dominant little bastard, but I am winning the battle. If he wants snuggles, or playing, or a ball thrown, or a walk, or hell, his dinner, he needs to offer me something. Usually, I will ask for a sit, or a sit/stay, or a touch, a paw, a down, a down-stay or something along those lines. With dinner, I sometimes ask him to fetch up his bowl for me first. (He’s 10 months old).

“Dominance” assertion is an every day, every activity thing. You eat first. You control food. You control affection. The only thing in life that is free is air and water.

Good luck with the pupper! :slight_smile:

Have no idea if this is officially valid, but I have found that looking OVER the dog’s head, rather than looking into his eyes, tends to make them cower.

Which is sort of the posture an alpha male takes in a pack, head erect, eyes ABOVE the others, and not looking them in the eye.

This trick has saved me from at least four dogs who menaced me while taking walks.

The dog will come racing across the lawn to challenge me. I turn, look OVER his head, chin high, and he stops barking, backs off.

I could be goofy, but it has worked on different dogs. Never look him in the eye.



i’ve never done alpha-rolling, but have had some success in a similar pursuit - placing my chin on top of the dog’s head. they will immediately try to do the same to you. it takes alot of patience - the more independent the dog, the longer it will take - but eventually if you keep it up they’ll stop. when that happens they’ve pretty much submitted to you.


oh, worth noting that i have never attempted this process with the more aggressive breeds - i imagine some accidental face-nipping could occur, so at your own risk.

Thanks for the help everyone!

This makes sense with what you’ve been saying but I’m a little uneasy about it. It goes against what I’ve always been taught, which is “always let the dog win”. Are you sure? Is is worth hurting her self esteem/feel bad (which I think was the reason for letting her win) in that?

Being the partner of a very independent Rhodesian Ridgeback, I can say this. Weeks of training for me and the dog, and a lifetime of reinforcement on who is boss make for a wonderful partnership. Griss is the most loyal dog I know, and one of the most obedient. When I call he is at my side until I tell him he can “go play”. People comment on how well trained he is and I always say that “we’re both well trained”…

My first reaction was “a husky what?”. A husky voice definitely asserts dominance, at least in my book.

Don’t mind me. I’m loopy on Vicodin and muscle relaxants. It’s simply incredible that I can even type real words at the moment.

And I missed MMP. Dang.

Best of luck with your predicament. Sorry I have no helpful hints, but I’m actually a cat person.

My brother owns a Husky/Malamute mix, and his best bet was to take her to obedience school because she is one hard-headed bitch (literally). I adore the hell out of the dog, but she’s a total brat. Howling when you’re on the phone because you’re not talking to HER, pushing you out of bed (well, she did that to my husband - then boyfriend - when we were dog sitting), and getting pissed off when you try to leave, which means hiding under a coffee table, and snapping at you when you try to talk to her (she’s never snapping violently, just in a bratty way).

So even if you do take them to obedience school, they will always have a mind of their own - she is THE queen of the house, and she’s in for a bit of a rude awakening when my brother and SIL’s baby son arrives in October.

If all else fails, you can borrow my cat. After five minutes around my brother’s dog, he got tired of being ‘teased’ and threw himself at her head (this cat has never been around a dog before in his life). Thank God for her good training - she knew NEVER to hurt a cat, so she just waited until I got the cat off of her. She never bothered him again, though.

Huskies are awesome dogs. If my husband liked one, we’d get a Husky puppy immediately.


My wife keeps bugging me about not letting the dog enter a room first, go up the steps first, walk ahead of me on the leash, etc

She says that if I do all of these things first, I am establishing dominance over the dog.

We both know that she is the Alpha of the house though. I just want to be second in line. :wink:

If you’re hoping to reduce the chewing and destruction I strongly recommend a daily walk of 20 minutes minimum. Huskies are working dogs, and need to have a task that will stimulate their brains and bodies. A neighborhood walk fits this bill perfectly. You’ll find that a daily walk will decrease their tendency to get into trouble. Once they’ve done their “work” for the day, they’re pretty content to be a couch potato.


I hear that a lot… :slight_smile:

Tugging is a form of dominance play. Most dog trainers will tell you that while a little bit of tugging can be really fun, you should be the one to win at all costs. I teach dogs to tug/pull on command (because I train service dogs and they need the skill).

When you deal with a dominant (or even a middle-of-the-pack) dog, you should try to avoid games that will make your dog become overexcited, or encourage confrontational behavior. Tug is about dominance and about testing - see who will let go first - and if your dog is even mildly dominant, you will find that it may want to “rearrange” its grip on the tug toy and get closer and closer to your hand to try to make you let go.

Puppies play tug with each other - even grown dogs often tug with each other. Sometimes, this will spark a fight. The reason is simple - tugging behavior is a game of resource control. He who wins gets the resource (the toy).

Tug o’ war games can be fun, if they’re played on your terms. Tug with your pup a few times, then ask her to “drop it”. Enforce the “drop it” command. At all times, YOU control the game.

Pirate, my dominant aussie puppy, went through a phase where he tugged on his leash while we were walking. He’d bite it, hang off it, and whip it around! GAH! We worked very hard on our “drop it” command :wink: let me tell ya.

Daniel Pinkwater’s book Fishwhistle has a good discussion of this issue. He applies the same rules to agressive teenagers.

Get it on tape if you can.