"Napoleon Complex"

“Napoleon Complex”

Have you noticed your dog having a “Napoleon Complex”?  “What is that?” you ask.  A Napoleon Complex is just a loose term we use to oftentimes define a dog who is out of balance in his pack, has an overbearing, domineering presence (not at the stage of aggression yet but close), and clearly doesn’t understand his or her place in the pack.

[pullquote_right]”What place should dogs have?”  They should be submissive to their pack leader–you.[/pullquote_right]

Most dogs are born to be submissive followers and are not born with dominant personalities.  Dogs still need a leader though.  If there isn’t a leader established in their pack (their pack consists of their human members, too), out of necessity, one will rise up to claim that position.  Dominant personalities especially will rise—and quickly.  Consequently, look out!  This is where big problems happen fast.  Examples of this type of behavior would be a dog that you initially adopted because it was calm and quiet (it doesn’t matter puppy or adult).  All of a sudden just a few months later, this dog is out of control telling you what to do!  Just a few symptoms of such dominant behavior would be as follows, but aren’t limited, too:


  • “hugging” your leg (per their language, this does not mean a hug as humans would like to think)
  • growling, snarling, biting or nipping at you when you get around it when it’s eating in an aggressive tone
  • growling, snarling, biting or nipping when you reach to take their toy away in an aggressive tone
  • lunging at other people or dogs when walking on-leash


If this “complex” is left unchecked, you could easily have a dog whose behavior has escalated to biting you, biting other dogs and/or biting other people.  If so, your dog is now a liability, which could land you in court, your dog taken away from you and other horrible, expensive outcomes.

[pullquote_right]Remember, if your dog is displaying these signs listed above, he’s trying to tell you that his needs are not being met.  And, he’s truly not a happy dog.[/pullquote_right]

What To Do

You want to make sure to establish yourself (and all other humans in your household) as the leader immediately. Why?  Your dog only sees itself as the boss in your house and not the humans (if your dog is displaying just the small list of behaviors as listed above).  All of the human members of your family should be leaders of the pack.


  • Give your dog a lot of exercise—always controlled by you—don’t neglect the leash walk as part of your consistent exercise routine.  Why?  Because a leashed walk done properly is always telling your dog you are the leader for starters.
  • Establish clear, consistent boundaries (just like you have to do with kids)
  • Never hit, yell or become frustrated with your dog (some of us may yell out of frustration but try not to; it only makes the situation worse because you are seen as out of control)!
  • Remain calm at all times and focus on your objective—always taking deep breaths if you need too and remain at peace.  (Think of yourself as the quiet controller in emergency situations such as paramedics, physicians, etc.  These people are confident, calm and in control.  If they weren’t, panic and chaos would be the words for the day! You are your dog’s strong, peaceful force, which gives him the security he needs.)
  • Don’t ignore bad behavior!  This doesn’t correct the problem but rather avoids it.


All dogs are unique and one technique doesn’t work for all.  So, remain patient 🙂

*Seek a Dog Behaviorist or Trainer for help on showing you what you need to do to communicate effectively with your dog and establish yourself as the leader.*

Dogs are worth the effort! There will always be at least one issue your pup has that you have to contend with, but you can still have a balanced relationship even while working with your pup on his issues 🙂   And, when you have a balanced relationship with your pup, your bond will be even more intense than you ever thought it could be.