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Alpha Dog

Understanding Behaviors Of An Alpha Dog

Become Aware Of Behaviors Of An Alpha Dog

A puppy usually looks to their mother to play the role of alpha dog. She is his leadership and trainer from the moment he is born. Once puppies leave the nest, you become his new leader. An alpha dog can be any size, and may seem normally pleasant and good. But when challenged, they will quickly put the challenger in his place with a stare or growl or a bite. This is instinctive behavior, but in a human family, it's unacceptable and can be dangerous.

Most dogs do not really want to be alpha, however, if their humans do not provide enough leadership, the dog will take over the alpha role. If your dog respects one family member but dominates the others, you still have a problem.

Establish Alpha (Leadership) Position With Your Puppy Or Dog

It is your responsibility to establish yourself in the alpha position. Failing to do this, your dog will do it as a natural behavior. In the wolf pack, the alpha male rules the roost with a glance, a stiffening of the body, or, if necessary with juvenile males, a raised lip or a scruff shake. This is dominance. Don't let yourself be dominated. Your dog needs you as his leader!

Believe it or not dogs are animals, not human beings. They are pack animals by nature, where everyone has a place. If a dog's humans are not providing leadership, the dog will take over the role himself. Instead of taking orders from his people, he will begin giving orders! Your family is your dog's "pack". Dogs tend to be natural leaders and the social climbers. They can become problems to unsuspecting families that aren't aware of a dog's natural pack instincts.

Learning To Act The Alpha Role

Your dog knows if you are uncomfortable in an alpha role or can not enforce a command. Do you play the role of alpha dog to your puppy? If not, your behavior confuses him (or her), makes him insecure and will encourage him to assume the alpha role and tell you what to do. How can you change that attitude so you regain control? Practice acting the role of alpha dog!

  • Stand up straight.
  • Walk tall.
  • Be gentle, but FIRM.
  • Be loving, but TOUGH.
  • Use a deep, firm new tone of voice.
  • Don't ask your dog to do something, tell him (or her).
  • You make the rules.
  • You give the orders.

Alpha Makes The Rules

Remember, as an acting alpha, you are entitled to make the rules and give the orders. Your dog understands that instinctively. With most dogs, this change in your attitude and an obedience training course will turn things around. A dog who's already taken over the household and has enforced his position by growling or biting will need an attitude adjustment as well. For further reading, we found an excellent article on the behaviors of an alpha dog at the Dog Owners Guide.

In a real dog pack, subordinate dogs touch, lick and groom the alpha dog to show respect and submission. Actions of an alpha behavior in your puppy can hinder some behaviors that an otherwise well-behaved submissive dog has.

Pet him when you decide to. Also, don not get down on the floor or on your knees to pet your dog. That, too, is a show of submission on your part. Give praise, petting and rewards from a position that's higher than the dog. Your dog should look to you for direction and permission. A dog who accepts humans as superiors will approach with his head slightly lowered and his ears back or off to the sides.

Actions of the Alpha Role When Your Dog is in Charge:

  • Jumping on you.
  • Games: NO Tug of War - NO wrestling.
  • Sleeping in your bed. (Woops... how many do this!).
  • Nudging you to pet him.
  • Refusing to put the collar on.

A well-trained dog is secure in his place within the family pack. He (or she) is content and knows what is expected. Training is a lifelong process, do not let your guard down and let your dog re-take the alpha position. Take the alpha role, or your dog certainly will! Remember, your dog wants and needs your leadership!

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