The Difference Between Dominant and Aggressive Behavior in Shih Poo Dogs towards Other Dogs

As dog owners, we want our furry friends to get along with other dogs they encounter. However, there may be instances where your Shih Poo displays dominant or aggressive behavior towards other dogs. It can be confusing to differentiate between the two, as they may exhibit similar signs. Understanding the difference is crucial for creating a safe and enjoyable environment for all dogs. So, let’s dive into the distinction between dominant and aggressive behavior in Shih Poo dogs towards other dogs.

What is Dominance?

What Is Dominance?
Understanding the nature of dominance is crucial when it comes to dealing with dog behavior. When we talk about dominance in Shih Poo dogs, it refers to their tendency to exhibit assertive behavior and attempt to establish their position in the pack hierarchy. The belief that all dogs naturally strive to be pack leaders has likely led to misconceptions about dominance theory. Some pet owners assume that such conduct must always emanate from an intent to harm. Nevertheless, a supervisor’s role, to recognize and manage their dog’s behavior calmly and effectively, cannot be overemphasized. In the following sections, we will examine what signs indicate that a Shih Poo dog is being dominant towards other dogs, and whether this behavior is always negative. Internal link: Shih Poo dogs with aggressive behavior.

What are the Signs of Dominance?

Dominance is a common behavior among dogs, and it’s important for owners to be able to recognize the signs of dominance to prevent it from turning into aggression. Here are some signs to look out for:

  • Maintaining direct eye contact: When a dog stares directly at another dog without breaking eye contact, it is a sign of dominance. This can be seen as a challenging behavior in the canine world.
  • Standing tall over other dogs: Dominant dogs may stand with a stiff, upright posture, raising their head and holding their tail high. This can make them appear larger and more intimidating.
  • Growling: One of the most common signs of dominance is growling. This growling can be a warning to other dogs to back off or a way to assert their dominance over those around them.
  • Blocking other dogs: Dominant dogs may try to block other dogs from entering a room or going through a door. They may also block access to toys, food, or water.
  • Mounting: While mounting is often seen as a sexual behavior, it can also be a sign of dominance. A dog that mounts another dog is trying to assert their dominance over that dog.
  • Resource guarding: Dominant dogs may guard food, toys, or other resources. This behavior can escalate to aggression if other dogs try to approach the guarded item.

Understanding the signs of dominance is important for owners to manage their dog’s behavior and prevent it from turning into aggression. It’s also important to note that not all dominance is negative, and it can be a natural part of the canine pack hierarchy. If you’re struggling with your Shih Poo’s behavior, check out our article on Shih Poo Dog Aggression Management for helpful tips.

Is Dominance Always Negative?

Dominance is not always negative, contrary to popular belief. In fact, some level of dominance is natural and necessary for a dog’s sense of security and well-being. However, it is important to differentiate between healthy assertiveness and overbearing dominance. Healthy dominance involves a dog who is confident in their own abilities and willing to demonstrate leadership, while still respecting the boundaries and feelings of those around them.

One of the main ways in which dominance can be seen as positive is in dogs who take on a protective role. When a dog is confident in their own abilities and feels responsible for the safety of their owners or fellow dogs, they may exhibit dominant behavior in order to protect those around them. This can include standing between their owners and perceived threats, or vocalizing to alert others of potential danger. These behaviors are a normal and healthy expression of a dog’s protective instincts.

However, it is important to note that not all forms of aggression towards other dogs are rooted in dominance. In some cases, dogs may exhibit aggressive behavior out of fear or anxiety, rather than a desire to assert their dominance over others. Dogs who have not been properly socialized or who have had negative experiences with other dogs in the past may become fearful or anxious in the presence of other dogs, leading to aggressive behavior.

It is also important to recognize that while some forms of dominance may not be negative, any behavior that could potentially harm other dogs or humans should be addressed and corrected. This can include behaviors such as biting, growling, or showing teeth. If you are unsure how to address and correct these types of behaviors, it is important to seek the guidance of a professional dog trainer or behaviorist.

In order to prevent dominance from becoming a negative behavior, it is important to establish clear boundaries and expectations for your dog’s behavior. This can include setting rules and boundaries within your household, as well as providing your dog with ample opportunities for exercise and mental stimulation. With proper training and socialization, many dogs can learn to express their dominance in positive and healthy ways.

To learn more about preventing and addressing aggression in Shih Poo dogs, check out our article on shih poo aggression tips, or visit our guide on socializing your Shih Poo to prevent aggression.

What is Aggression?

What Is Aggression?
Aggression is a serious concern when it comes to shih poo dogs and their behavior towards other dogs. It is the display of behaviors that are intended to harm, intimidate, or assert control over another animal or person. Aggressive behavior can stem from many different sources, including fear, anxiety, territoriality, and a desire to assert dominance over others. Understanding the signs and causes of aggression in shih poo dogs can help owners take proactive measures to prevent potentially harmful situations from arising. To learn more about the triggers of shih poo dog aggression, check out our article on the subject.

What are the Signs of Aggression?

There are several signs that a Shih Poo dog may display aggressive behavior towards other dogs. It’s important to recognize these signs as early as possible to prevent any harm or negative consequences. Here are some of the signs of aggression in Shih Poo dogs:

Signs of AggressionDescription
GrowlingShih Poo dogs may growl when they feel threatened or anxious.
Barking or SnappingWhen a Shih Poo feels threatened or scared, they may bark or snap at other dogs. This could be a warning sign or an attempt to keep other dogs away.
Stiff Body LanguageA Shih Poo may display rigid or stiff body language when they are feeling aggressive or defensive. This could include raised fur, tense muscles, and a lowered head.
Showing Teeth or SnarlingWhen a Shih Poo is feeling aggressive, they may reveal their teeth and snarl at other dogs.
Biting or LungingIn extreme cases, a Shih Poo may bite or lunge at other dogs when they feel threatened or scared. This could be dangerous and could cause harm to other dogs or people.

It is important to mention that while aggressive behavior is a serious issue, not all aggressive behavior is the same. Some Shih Poo dogs may display fear aggression, which is a type of aggression that occurs when a dog is scared or feels threatened. Fear aggression can be a result of lack of training or socialization, or it could be a result of previous negative experiences. If you suspect that your Shih Poo is displaying fear aggression, it is important to seek professional help with fear aggressive Shihpoo.

If your dog is displaying aggressive behavior, it is important to address the issue as soon as possible to prevent it from escalating. You can seek help from a professional trainer, or you can start with Shih Poo dog training aggression. In any case, it is essential to understand the signs and causes of aggressive behavior to prevent harm and ensure your dog’s overall well-being.

Types of Aggression and Causes

When it comes to aggression in Shih Poo dogs towards other dogs, there are different types that owners should be aware of. Understanding the types of aggression and their root causes can be helpful in addressing the issue and preventing further problems. Here are some common types of aggression in Shih Poo dogs:

Type of AggressionCause
Fear AggressionWhen a dog feels scared or threatened, they may become aggressive as a defense mechanism. This can happen if a dog has had a traumatic experience, such as an attack by another dog, or if they feel backed into a corner.
Resource GuardingSome dogs may become aggressive when they feel that their resources, such as food, toys, or territory, are being threatened. This type of aggression can be especially common among dogs who were not socialized with other dogs when they were young.
Protective AggressionDogs are naturally protective of their owners and their homes. While this can be a good thing in some situations, it can also lead to aggression towards other dogs, especially if they feel that their owner or home is being threatened.
Redirected AggressionRedirected aggression occurs when a dog is aroused or agitated by a stimulus, such as another dog, but cannot directly confront the source of their frustration. The dog may then redirect their aggression towards another dog, person or object that is nearby.
Play AggressionSome dogs may engage in rough play that can escalate into aggression. While this is a normal behavior for young puppies to practice their social and physical skills, it can become problematic if it progresses into biting or attacking other dogs.

As you can see, there are different types of aggression in Shih Poo dogs, and each one may have a different cause. Identifying the type of aggression can help owners take appropriate steps to address the issue, whether it’s providing more socialization and training, managing the dog’s environment better, or seeking professional help.

Dominant or Aggressive: How to Tell the Difference

Dominant Or Aggressive: How To Tell The Difference
As a Shih Poo dog owner, it’s important to understand your furry friend’s behavior towards other dogs. One common confusion many owners have is distinguishing between dominant and aggressive behavior. While these behaviors may have similarities, they are not the same, and it’s crucial to identify which behavior your dog is exhibiting to respond appropriately. In this section, we’ll dive into different ways to differentiate between dominance and aggression in Shih Poo dogs. So, let’s explore the cues that can help you decide whether your dog is being dominant or aggressive towards other dogs.

Body Language

One way to distinguish between dominant and aggressive behavior in Shih Poo dogs is through their body language. By paying attention to your dog’s postures, you can determine their intention and respond accordingly.

Dominant Body Language:

Towering over other dogsStanding tall with their head and tail held high
Pushing other dogs asideUsing their muzzle, shoulders or body to move other dogs out of their way
Mounting other dogsPositioning themselves above another dog’s back as a sign of dominance
Stealing toys or foodTaking things from other dogs as a way of asserting their dominance

Aggressive Body Language:

Stiff bodyFrozen or rigid posture, lacking any fluidity in movement
Bared teethShowcasing their teeth, often accompanied by a growling or snarling sound
Intense eye contactFierce, unblinking stare focused on the target of aggression
Snapping or lungingJolting movements or thrusting forward as if to attack, accompanied by vocalizations

It’s important to note that dominant or aggressive body language can be triggered by a variety of factors, such as fear, insecurity, or poor socialization. As the owner, it’s essential to understand your dog’s triggers and respond appropriately. For example, if your Shih Poo is displaying dominant behavior towards another dog, you may need to intervene and redirect their attention to a toy or treat. On the other hand, if your dog is displaying aggressive behavior, it’s important to remove them from the situation and provide them with a safe, isolated space to calm down.

By observing your Shih Poo’s body language, you can better understand what they may be feeling and provide an appropriate response. Remember to always prioritize your dog’s safety and well-being above all else.

Triggers and Motivations

When trying to determine whether a Shih Poo dog is exhibiting dominant or aggressive behavior towards other dogs, it is important to consider the triggers and motivations behind their behavior. Here are some factors to consider:


  • Protection: Is the Shih Poo trying to protect their owner or their territory? This could trigger dominant behavior towards other dogs.
  • Fear: Is the Shih Poo feeling scared or threatened by another dog’s presence or behavior? This could trigger aggressive behavior.
  • Resource guarding: Is the Shih Poo possessive over food, toys, or other resources? This could trigger dominant or aggressive behavior towards other dogs who try to take those resources away.
  • Personal space: Is the Shih Poo feeling uncomfortable with another dog being too close or invading their personal space? This could trigger aggressive behavior.


  • Hormones: Hormonal imbalances or sexual frustration may trigger dominant or aggressive behavior towards other dogs.
  • Breed tendencies: Some breeds, like the Shih Tzu, may have a tendency towards assertive behavior, which can manifest as dominance or aggression towards other dogs.
  • Previous traumas: Dogs who have experienced past trauma or negative experiences, like being attacked by another dog, may exhibit aggressive behavior towards others out of fear or self-defense.
  • Lack of socialization: Dogs who were not properly socialized with other dogs during their developmental stage may exhibit fear or aggression towards other dogs as adults.

It is important to identify these triggers and motivations in your Shih Poo’s behavior towards other dogs in order to properly address and correct any negative behaviors. By understanding what is causing your dog’s behavior, you can take steps towards preventing future incidents and creating a safe and harmonious environment for your furry friend.

Proper Responses to Dominant and Aggressive Behavior

It’s important to know how to respond to dominant and aggressive behavior in Shih Poo dogs towards other dogs. Here are some proper responses to help manage these situations:

  • Stay Calm: Dogs often feed off their owner’s emotions, so it’s important to remain calm and composed when dealing with a dog who is displaying dominant or aggressive behavior. This will help prevent the situation from escalating further.
  • Stand Tall: When a dog is acting dominant or aggressive, it’s important to make yourself appear as big and intimidating as possible. Stand tall, avoid making yourself small, and maintain a confident posture.
  • Redirect: If a dog is displaying dominant or aggressive behavior towards another dog, gently pull them away and redirect their attention towards something else. This could be a toy, treat, or even a friendly game of fetch.
  • Positive Reinforcement: When dealing with dominant or aggressive behavior, it’s important to reward good behavior. Use positive reinforcement techniques to reinforce desirable behavior, such as sitting or staying calm, and withhold rewards for undesirable behavior.
  • Avoid Punishment: Punishing a dog for displaying dominant or aggressive behavior is not usually effective and can actually make the situation worse. Instead, focus on redirecting their attention and rewarding good behavior.
  • Remove the Dog: If a dog is displaying overwhelming dominant or aggressive behavior, and you feel that you or another dog may be in danger, remove the dog from the situation immediately. This could mean picking them up or leading them away on a leash.

By using these responses, you can help manage dominant and aggressive behavior in Shih Poo dogs towards other dogs in a safe and effective way. Remember, the key is to remain calm, confident, and focus on positive reinforcement techniques to promote good behavior.

Preventing Dominance and Aggression towards Other Dogs

As a Shih Poo owner, one of the most important things you can do for your furry companion is to prevent dominance and aggression towards other dogs. This is crucial not only for their own safety but also for the safety of other dogs around them. While some Shih Poos may be naturally more dominant or aggressive than others, there are steps you can take to minimize these behaviors and promote positive interactions with other dogs. In this section, we’ll explore some effective strategies for preventing dominance and aggression towards other dogs.

Training and Socialization

Training and socialization are crucial factors in preventing dominance and aggression towards other dogs in shih poo dogs. Here are some tips for effective training and socialization:

  • Start early: It’s important to socialize your shih poo puppy from a young age. This will help them to become more comfortable around other dogs and prevent any negative behaviors from developing.
  • Positive reinforcement: Use positive reinforcement techniques, such as treats and praise, to reward good behavior. This will encourage your shih poo to repeat these behaviors in the future.
  • Expose to different environments: Take your shih poo to different places, such as parks and dog-friendly stores, to expose them to different environments and experiences. This will help them to become more adaptable and less fearful of new situations.
  • Teach obedience: Teach your shih poo basic obedience commands such as “sit,” “stay,” and “come.” This will help them to listen to you and behave appropriately in different situations.
  • Avoid punishment: Avoid punishing your shih poo for negative behaviors, as this can cause fear and anxiety. Instead, redirect their behavior and reward positive actions.
  • Supervision: Supervise your shih poo when interacting with other dogs, especially in the beginning stages of socialization. This will allow you to intervene if any negative behaviors arise and prevent any negative interactions from occurring.

By following these training and socialization tips, you can help your shih poo develop positive behaviors towards other dogs and prevent dominance and aggression from developing.

Positive Reinforcement

Training and socialization play a crucial role in preventing dominant and aggressive behavior in Shih Poo dogs towards other dogs. For effective training, positive reinforcement is highly recommended as it promotes good behavior and strengthens the bond between the dog and the owner.

What is Positive Reinforcement?
Positive reinforcement is a reward-based system used to encourage positive behavior. This method involves rewarding your Shih Poo dog for exhibiting desirable behavior, like sitting or staying, and ignoring or redirecting undesirable behavior. Positive reinforcement can range from verbal praise and treats to playtime and affection.

The Benefits of Positive Reinforcement
There are numerous benefits to using positive reinforcement when training your Shih Poo dog. One major advantage is that it promotes a happy and healthy relationship between the dog and owner. This increase in bonding can lead to further improvement in behavior because the dog wants to please their owner.

Positive reinforcement is a humane approach to dog training. It encourages good behavior without the use of physical punishments or negative reinforcement. This approach makes the training process more enjoyable for dogs, leading to faster learning without causing fear or anxiety.

Using Positive Reinforcement for Socializing
When using positive reinforcement to socialize your Shih Poo dog, it is important to reward positive interactions with other dogs. Praising and rewarding your dog when they exhibit desirable behavior, like gentle play or friendly greetings, can help reinforce positive socialization habits.

Positive reinforcement is a highly effective method for preventing dominant and aggressive behavior in Shih Poo dogs towards other dogs. By focusing on good behavior and rewarding desirable actions, owners can create a healthy and happy relationship with their furry friends. Remember, patience is key when using positive reinforcement, as training your dog takes time and consistency.


In conclusion, understanding the difference between dominant and aggressive behavior in Shih Poo dogs towards other dogs is crucial for responsible dog ownership. While dominance can manifest in different ways, not all dominant behavior is negative. Similarly, aggression can have various causes and types, and it’s important to recognize the signs and triggers.

By observing a dog’s body language and motivations, we can determine whether it’s displaying dominant or aggressive behavior. It’s crucial to respond appropriately, depending on the situation, and use a positive reinforcement approach to prevent unwanted behavior.

Training and socialization are also essential in preventing dominance and aggression towards other dogs. Consistency and repetition are key tools in reinforcing positive behavior, while negative behavior should be addressed quickly to prevent escalation.

In the end, responsible dog ownership requires proper understanding, patience, and consistent effort. By following the tips and guidance outlined in this article, you can create a healthy and happy environment for your Shih Poo dog and ensure peaceful coexistence with other dogs. Remember, every dog is different and has unique needs, so always prioritize their well-being and safety.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can Shih Poo dogs be trained to overcome dominant or aggressive behavior towards other dogs?

Yes, with proper training and socialization, Shih Poo dogs can learn to overcome dominant or aggressive behavior towards other dogs.

2. Is dominance always a negative behavior trait in Shih Poo dogs?

No, dominance is not always negative. It can be a natural behavior trait, and some degree of dominance is necessary to establish a hierarchy within a pack of dogs.

3. Can aggression in Shih Poo dogs be caused by health problems?

Yes, sometimes aggression in dogs can be a sign of an underlying health issue, and it’s important to get your dog checked by a vet if you suspect any such problem.

4. What are the common signs of aggression in Shih Poo dogs?

Common signs of aggression in Shih Poo dogs include growling, snarling, baring teeth, snapping, biting, and lunging at other dogs.

5. What triggers can cause dominant or aggressive behavior in Shih Poo dogs?

Common triggers for dominant or aggressive behavior in Shih Poo dogs include fear, lack of socialization, feeling threatened or intimidated, and guarding their possessions or territory.

6. How can you tell if a Shih Poo dog is displaying dominant or aggressive behavior?

You can tell if a Shih Poo dog is displaying dominant or aggressive behavior by observing their body language, such as raised hackles, stiff posture, and avoidance of eye contact. Growling, barking, snarling, and biting are other indicators of aggression.

7. Can positive reinforcement be used to prevent dominant or aggressive behavior in Shih Poo dogs?

Yes, positive reinforcement can be an effective method for preventing dominant or aggressive behavior in Shih Poo dogs. It involves rewarding good behavior with treats, praise, and toys, and training your dog to associate good behavior with positive outcomes.

8. What training techniques are recommended to prevent dominant or aggressive behavior in Shih Poo dogs?

Training techniques recommended to prevent dominant or aggressive behavior in Shih Poo dogs include obedience training, socialization exercises with other dogs, and counter-conditioning to gradually desensitize your dog to their triggers.

9. How can you socialize a Shih Poo dog to prevent dominant or aggressive behavior?

You can socialize a Shih Poo dog by gradually exposing them to different people and dogs in safe and controlled environments and rewarding them for positive behavior. You can also enroll them in a doggy daycare or hire a professional dog walker to give them opportunities to socialize with other dogs on a regular basis.

10. Can dominant or aggressive behavior ever be fully eliminated in Shih Poo dogs?

While dominant or aggressive behavior may never be fully eliminated in some Shih Poo dogs, it can be successfully managed with consistent training and socialization techniques. The earlier you identify and address any dominant or aggressive behavior in your dog, the better the chances of successfully managing their behavior in the long term.


Matthew Farthing

Matthew Farthing

Сontributing author at DogCareHacks, Certified Dog Behavior Consultant.

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