Are you worried that your pets are slowly taking over? Does your dog bark and behave badly in spite of your commands? You might need to work on being more alpha dog and less underdog. Here are ten ways you can help reestablish a more respectful relationship with your furry friend.
1. Be in Control of Resources
As the human in the relationship, you’re naturally the one who has access to most of the resources. You buy groceries at the store. You turn on the tap for water. You open the door to go out. You’re already in the alpha dog or “parent” position with your pup. Learning how to be the alpha dog is an extension of these moments.
Keeping control of certain resources in the home can help your dog with manners, such as waiting quietly for their food. You should also minimize the amount of human food they have access to and don’t feed them at the table. It’s bad for their health and encourages begging.
Side Note Learning how to be the alpha dog with your puppy includes not trying to keep your pet away from food that has already been served in an effort to be more dominant. This can lead to “resource guarding,” a bad habit of growling, barking, and guarding food or toys. It may even result in a bite if you try to push your pet away from his dish.
2. Maintain a Calm Confidence
When learning how to be the alpha dog, understand that alphas are confident because they know that they’re the leader of the pack. There’s no need to be aggressive or angry. Whenever you interact with your pet, especially when giving commands, be calm and collected. Speak with a firm voice and make eye contact. This helps your dog know that you’ve got control of every situation, giving them a sense of security in your leadership.
3. Go First
The alpha dog makes a habit of going out the door first when you leave the house. You can also do other things this way, such as making your food and only then putting down the dog’s dish at mealtime. Learning how to be the alpha dog includes learning being first. Being first establishes your position and ensures that your dog is paying attention to your actions.
4. Establish the Areas You Want to Be Dog-Free
Many pet owners have fought with pets over chairs or beds, and even had dogs scratching at the bathroom door! Your furry friends just want to be with you, on a comfortable bed, and don’t mind sleeping in a dog pile. Learn how to be the alpha dog with your puppy early to help curb these behaviors.
It’s perfectly normal to prefer having some space for yourself. Want to know how to be the alpha dog? Start establishing pet-free areas immediately. If your dog is in them, calmly and confidently order them off or out. It may take some repetition, but eventually, they’ll understand that you don’t want them in those places.
5. Ignore Bad Behavior
When dogs beg, nip, bark, or generally behave badly, sometimes, the best thing for the alpha dog to do is ignore it. This is most effective when you’re trying to do something that has the dog’s interest, such as getting ready for a nice, long walk. If you’d like your pet to be calmer while you put on the leash, just stand there and wait until they calm down. Don’t yell, talk to them, or try to grab them. Just be still until they’re still.
6. Create a Fixed Routine
When learning how to be the alpha dog, routine is key. Animals thrive when they have a fixed schedule. It helps to soothe anxiousness because they know what to expect from day to day. Try to establish a routine for daily walks, meals, and even bedtime. Regularly scheduled walks can also do much to improve efforts at housetraining.
7. Nip Rough Housing in the Bud Early
It may be cute when puppies bark, crawl all over you, and nip at your fingers. Unfortunately, these can become bad habits in an adult dog. Learning how to be the alpha dog with your puppy includes discouraging these behaviors early.
Playing with your pet is a wonderful way to bond and use up some of that excess energy. The problem begins when your dog starts to bite too hard or jump up on you. Get this under control as part of learning how to be the alpha dog so your pet doesn’t accidentally hurt someone. Give teething puppies a chew toy to cut their teeth on. You can also stop playing and ignore your puppy or adult dog until they calm back down again.
8. Leash Train Your Pet
Some dogs want to take off as soon as they get outside. However, they’re usually attached to a lead and end up pulling you along, too! Build good habits as the alpha dog with regular leash training. This includes making sure your pet knows that they can’t drag you along.
How can you learn how to be the alpha dog with a leash? One method is to set up a practice walk with a treat or toy at a short- to medium distance. Start walking toward the goal, and as soon as your pet pulls, turn around and go back to the starting point. Repeat this practice until your dog picks up on the idea that the leash must remain loose. It can take a lot of practice as this isn’t a natural way for dogs to walk. Be patient.
9. Keep Up with Training
It's beneficial to keep up with all your dog’s training; make it a habit for yourself, too. At least once a week, practice how to be the alpha dog by picking an area you want to focus on with your pet. Then, set aside some time for a short training session with your pet’s favorite treats. Regular practice is one of the most effective ways to learn how to be the alpha dog with your puppy or older pet.
10. Don’t Worry Over It
More and more people are starting to realize that a relationship with your dog doesn’t have to be maintained by strict social roles. Dogs aren’t always vying for dominance or looking to take over the pack. Most times, they only want to have good food, a comfy sleeping spot, and someone warm to snuggle.
If you’re still working on how to be the alpha dog, dog training, or give in every now and then with a snack, it’s okay. You haven’t irreparably harmed your position in the pack. Your dog will still look up to you for guidance on how to behave.
Get in Touch with K9 Training Institute
If you’re still having trouble with an untrained dog, it may be time to start some obedience training! The RAPT (Reinforce Alpha Positive Training) method is designed to help lost pet owners find their way into a better relationship with their dogs.
Learn more about this effective way to be the alpha dog in your pack. Sign up for our free workshop for more information!