I have a dog that's part Amstaff. This is my first dog. It is generally well behaved. It is about 10 months old.

Sometimes the dog snaps at me. For example, just now my face was near its stomach checking out a rash, and it snapped its mouth close to my face. Not hard, and not actually on my face, but close to it. It was annoyed that I was manipulating its body to get a look.

Might this indicate problem behavior? If so, is it very bad (ingrained hostility), or something a trainer can fix?

3 Answers 3


What a trainer can do is train you in how to train the dog. A friend of mine needed exactly that to help her make the dominance order clear to her pooch. They are both much happier now.


A good trainer can teach you how to work with her. It will entail you putting her on her back with you above her until she submits. You will need to do this frequently, at your discretion. You will know she is submitting once her front paws are floppy and she turns her head away to the side.

When training my dogs I do it many times when I can speak lovingly. On those occasions when there is a behavior I don't like they are used to it and they recognize the change in my voice and demeanor. They are more easy to work with. Doing it during undisciplinary times builds our bond so that the discipline times are more effective.

I learned this technique when I had a Rhodesian Ridgeback. They tend to want to be dominant, he was the best dog ever, 116 lbs of gentle protection, lived to be 12. Invest the time in this technique, it works great.


Dogs are pack animals. The primary social factor affecting a dog's life in the pack is the dog's status in the pack. When a dog is on its back, in the dog world, this is an act of submission. (Because it's neck is exposed and the dog on top could kill it if it wanted.)

That being said, it's hard to tell if there is a problem without more information. In other words, your dog could be an alpha-type that instinctively rejects doing acts of submission (like being on its back).

If your dog thinks its the alpha, however, this will eventually become a problem as it will expect you to do the submitting and could potentially bite you in order to try to enforce its dominance in the pack.

No, a trainer can not correct it. As the dog will perceive the trainer to be the alpha. Which will still leave you with your problem of appearing to your dog as being lower in pack status.

You might want to consider studying on this topic. Even if your dog is at the extreme end of the alpha personality spectrum, you still hold the trump card: you control the food. Properly managed, you could use that factor alone (your dog's sole source of food) if necessary, to secure alpha status with your dog.

As another answer mentions, if you use a trainer, get a human trainer (to train the human, i.e., you) not a dog trainer.

  • She loves to be on her back around me, and she lets me touch her anywhere (even belly). She will do tricks if I am either very stern, or have food. But then again, she also does jump up on me (and other people), and I've read that's alpha behavior... Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 0:10
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    @horsehair: It looks like your dog (let's call her Alice) has a fluid perception of who the alpha is. To her, sometimes it's you. Sometimes it's her. If you're okay with that, then fine. Yes, sometimes she will snap at you if she's on her back and she feels like turning alpha on you. You might get bit. If you want to enforce a more consistent structure, you will have to commit yourself to consistency and doing a little work.
    – Mowzer
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 0:42

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