How Do You Show Your Dog You’re the Alpha?
Dogs are pack animals, and as the pack leader, it is important to show them that you are in charge. If your dog doesn’t see you as the alpha, they may start to take over, and this can lead to some serious behavior problems.
In this article, we will discuss how to show your dog that you are the alpha, some effective training, and how to maintain that position.
Have difficulty with your dominant dog?
Dominant dogs may show aggressive behavior or bad behavior to get what they want. Dogs that perceive themselves as above their owner in the pack order will often test that position. If you have a dog that is showing signs of aggression, it is important to show them who is in charge.
Dog owners equipped with the knowledge and enough training can show the alpha dog who the pack leader is.
What does it mean to be an alpha?
An alpha dog growls to show that he is the leader of the pack. Most often than not, an alpha dog’s behavior affects more than one dog. It begets more dominant behavior from other dogs and may even influence a dog’s position in the pack.
The easiest way to show your dog that you’re the alpha is through body language. Dogs communicate through their body language, and by understanding how to speak their language, you can show them who is in charge.
An aggressive dog should submit to you by lowering its head, ears, and tail. If your dog is showing any of these signs of submission, do not reward them with treats or petting, as this will only reinforce their dominant behavior.
Understanding the Alpha Instinct of Dogs
Understanding how dogs operate like wolf packs is the key to being an effective alpha. Like wolves, dogs are social animals that live in packs. In a pack, there is a clear social hierarchy, with a clear alpha leader at the top.
Dogs are instinctual creatures, and their pack behavior is deeply ingrained. In order to show your dog that you are the alpha, you must first understand their instinctual behavior.
Dogs will follow the leader of the pack, and the leader of the pack is the one who provides food, shelter, and safety to the entire pack.
What are the benefits of being the alpha dog?
The term “alpha dog” refers to the leader of the pack. The alpha is typically the biggest and strongest dog in the pack.
Some benefits of being the alpha dog include:
- improved socialization
- reduced boredom and destructive behavior
- teaches the dog to be calm and not to jump on people
- can be used as a form of exercise
- helps the owner become a better leader
- reduces the likelihood of dog bites
Positive Reinforcement: An Alpha Approach
Obedience training through a positive reinforcement approach has been effective in correcting unwanted behaviors, setting ground rules, instigating good manners, and to give your dog verbal commands. Positive reinforcement as an approach to training dogs follows the following principles:
- The alpha leader provides food, shelter, and safety to the pack.
- Dogs are instinctual creatures and will follow the leader of the pack.
- In order to show your dog that you are the alpha, you must provide food, shelter, and safety.
- You can use positive reinforcement to train your dog by providing food, shelter, and safety when they obey a command.
- Verbal praise is also a form of positive reinforcement.
- A dog understand a calm voice better than a raised voice.
- You should always end on a positive note.
- Dog feel good when it is praised by its leader.
Pack members understand through eye contact, sound leadership, and rules set by a strong leader that is why it is important to be consistent. Dogs will try to test you to see if you are a sound leader or a strong leader to follow.
On the other hand, sharp verbal correction and negative dominance do not embody the alpha role-modeling; instead, it only causes the dog to mistrust you and be confused.
Obedience Dog Training
Dog obedience training is the best way to show your dog that you are the alpha dog of the pack. It is a way of teaching your dog to follow commands, obey rules and reinforce bad behavior. Dog training inculcates basic commands, personal space, and daily routine in our pets.
Here are some of the most effective dog training to show your dog that you’re the alpha:
Teaching dogs good behavior and control should start with the most basic commands like sit, stay, come, down, off, and leave it. The same place command is also an excellent way to show your dog who’s the boss.
Dogs need to learn that they are not allowed on furniture or in certain areas of the house unless invited. Dogs should be taught to wait patiently and calmly for permission before entering a room or getting on furniture.
Dogs should be taught not to jump on people, put their paws on people or a family table, or lean against people.
Dogs are creatures of habit and love routines. Maintaining a regular daily routine will help your dog feel secure and know what to expect. Learned behaviors are more likely to be performed when they become part of a dog’s daily routine.
A consistent daily routine includes set mealtimes, walks, playtime, and quiet time. Establishing rules and limits shows your dog that you are the alpha leader. Dogs need rules and limits to feel secure.
Sample Dog Daily Routine:
- Wake up
- Go outside to pee and poop
- Free play in the backyard
- Come inside
- Nap time
- Afternoon walk
- Free play inside
- Evening potty break
- Brushing teeth
A dog feels its place in the pack is happy, well-adjusted, and less likely to develop behavior problems.
The best way to show your dog you’re the alpha is through obedience training. Teaching your dog basic commands, personal space, and daily routine will help your dog feel secure and know what to expect. A well-behaved dog is a happy dog.
7 Steps in Showing Your Dog You’re the Alpha
Establish yourself as the pack leader right from the beginning.
Set rules from eating to playing to going outside to using the bathroom. Teach your pet the importance of the alpha position. Use verbal commands and show signs for when to eat, go to bed, and even wear a leash.
Be consistent with rules and expectations.
Our dogs should know what a private space and a sleeping spot are. Teach them respect by not letting them on our beds and private areas until invited.
Use positive reinforcement when your dog follows your commands.
A good alpha shows signs of leadership but also provides guidance and love. Our dogs should feel like part of the family and not just another animal in the house. Eye contact and verbal queues are not only used when a dog growls but also when we give them a treat or show our approval.
Never use violence as a way to assert dominance over your dog.
Make sure your dog knows who is in charge – even when you’re not around.
Ground rules are set by the alpha and should be followed by everyone in the pack – including the dog. Let the pack value good behavior by rewarding it with treats, attention, and verbal praise.
Provide plenty of exercise and stimulation.
Most dogs’ dominance issues result from boredom and lack of exercise. A good alpha burns off that extra energy by playing fetch, going for walks, and spending quality time with their dog. Be the calm-assertive pack leader.
Alpha roll on dogs is not only unnecessary but can result in a dog feeling scared, threatened, and anxious.
Don’t give in to your dog’s demands – be firm but fair.
A good leadership position in the pack does not give in to demanding attention or food – that would send the wrong message. The alpha is in charge of when and how much the pack eats, not the other way around.
Enjoin family members.
Family members should be aware of the training process and help support the alpha leader. Dogs are social creatures and love being around people. A good way to show your dog you’re the alpha is to include them in family activities.
With these steps, you can show your dog that you’re the alpha in a way that is positive and beneficial to both of you.
Benefits of Properly Trained Dog
Dog training does not only make a dog a good follower but also:
- Helps with the socialization process
- Reduces boredom and destructive behavior
- Teaches a dog to be calm and not to jump on people
- Can be used as a form of exercise
- Helps the owner become a better leader
- Reduces the likelihood of dog bites
- And so much more!
Properly training your dog not only shows them you’re the alpha but also has a plethora of benefits for both you and your dog. With a little patience and consistency, you can have a well-behaved dog that is a joy to be around.
When to call a professional dog trainer?
In as much as every dog owners want to be the alpha of their pack, there are some instances where it would be best to consult a professional dog trainer.
- If your dog has aggression issues
- If you’ve tried everything and nothing seems to be working
- If you’re dealing with a rescue dog with a history of abuse or neglect
- If you’re dealing with a particularly stubborn dog
- If you’re getting ready to add a new baby or pet to the family
- If you’re dealing with a senior dog that is starting to exhibit signs of dementia
In these instances and many others, it would be best to consult a professional dog trainer. They will be able to help you assess the situation and come up with a plan that will work best for you as the alpha dog and your dog.
Should I need veterinary advice before starting training my dog?
Veterinary guidance is not necessary before starting to train your dog, but, if you have any concerns about your dog’s health or behavior, it would be best to consult your veterinarian.
Your vet can provide veterinary advice on :
- Diet and nutrition
- Medical conditions that could affect training
- Behavioral concerns
- And much more!
After you’ve consulted with your vet, you can then decide if you need to hire a professional dog trainer or if you feel confident enough to train your dog yourself.
Other Helpful Materials
Aside from the expert advice of a veterinarian and a professional dog trainer, checking a dog’s resources material can also be helpful.
Here are some other materials that can help with dog training:
- Books – There are many great books on dog training that can provide helpful tips and advice.
- Websites – There are a number of websites that offer free dog training information and resources.
- Videos – There are a number of videos available on dog training that can be helpful in learning.
There are no more limits to what you can do with the bulk of dog training materials available today.
Q: What is the best way to show my dog I’m the alpha?
A: The best way to show your dog you’re the alpha is to be consistent with your commands and expectations. Be sure to give praise and rewards when your dog follows your commands.
Q: What are the benefits of a properly trained dog?
A: Properly trained dogs are less likely to bite, jump on people, and be destructive. They can also be used as a form of exercise and help the owner become a better leader.
Q: When should I call a professional dog trainer?
A: You should call a professional dog trainer if your dog has aggression issues, you’ve tried everything and nothing seems to be working, or you’re getting ready to add a new baby or pet to the family.
Properly training your dog not only shows them you’re the alpha but also has many benefits for you and your dog. Every party benefits from a well-trained dog in the home. With a little patience and consistency, you can have a well-behaved dog that is a joy to be around.
May you and your dog have a long and happy life together!