Does your dog run the household?
Is your dog noisy and hard to control?

Become the Alpha Dog -- the Pack Leader

descriptive textDoes your alpha dog pull you down the sidewalk like the one in the photograph? That dog thinks he's the leader. The kid holding the leash has no control over him. The dog will turn where HE wants to turn and stop when HE wants to stop. That dog needs leadership in his life. He needs an owner who understands how to be the alpha-dog that Fido will RESPECT AS THE LEADER.

So, do you think it's a good idea to start training an out-of-control alpha dog? No. You can’t. You MUST first establish yourself as the alpha dog, the "leader." Your dog must realize he is at the bottom of the family hierarchy and your commands are to be followed because YOU set the rules! The dog must take a submissive role at all times.

For puppies, showing him you are pack leader right away is important. Practice submission constantly. Hold the pup until he stops squirming and jerking around and when he stops, praise him.

If he nips at you, give him a very sharp ACK!!! Or, “Ah Ah Ah” He will have to learn that you are not another puppy and you won’t stand for that.

Being a good “pack leader” does not suggest that you are mean, harsh or excessively “bossy.” It does mean you are calm, kind, forceful and in control at all times though.

This angry retriever can be controlled by a person who
understands the leadership
role with alpha dogs who want to dominate. A kind, firm leader.

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Alpha Dog Training

Here are some steps to follow:

  • Feed the dog by first standing in front of him, hold the food bowl and make him wait. Pretend to eat some of his food. Give him the food at a moment of YOUR CHOOSING.

  • Make him “sit” or go “down” before you give him anything including the food mentioned above. When he starts to respond to you before you respond to him, he will look to you to set the rules.

  • Your tone of voice is important. A high pitched voice indicates play and fun time while a normal voice is used for commands. Save the low voice for corrections. Use a normal voice for all commands.

  • A dog is much more sensitive than many people realize. Don’t let your dog see you when you are emotionally upset or especially anxious. He’ll see it as weakness and you’ll lose alpha dog status.

  • As pack leader, enter rooms before your dog goes in.

  • Eat meals at the table before the dog eats his meal. Don’t share table food with the dog. Pack leaders never share food. Make sure the whole family follows through on this and that someone doesn’t go sneaking treats under the table.

  • When becoming pack leader, don’t chase after your dog and don’t play too rough. Wholesome play is okay, but not roughhousing. Alpha dogs don’t do that.

  • Sometimes it's better to just ignore your dog for awhile, the same as alpha dogs do.

  • Pretend you don’t know he is trying to get your attention. He might just figure out he is not so important after all.

  • Make your dog SIT before you give him a treat, before you toss the ball for him, and before you put his in the car.

  • If it is a small dog, do NOT pick him up every time he puts his paws up on your leg. Put him in a SIT position instead. Tough love, I know, but it’s better than living with an alpha dog!

  • Ignore your dog. Come in from the market, greet all people in the household, put the groceries away and relax in your chair. THEN, call your dog to you.

  • When it is time to take your dog for a walk, and the dog is trying to guide you to the door, ignore him for a while. Take him out on YOUR terms and timing, not his.

  • It is important to educate everyone in the family about these things so you are all on the same page. Explain to the family what a pack leader is and why they ALL need to assume the same attitude with the dog.

This German Shepherd believes he is leader of the
pack and is telling everyone else to "back off!"

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Several Alpha Thoughts

  • Your dog should obey any command that you give him within several seconds. If he doesn’t, he is either ignoring you, which means your position as alpha dog is under threat, or he does not understand what the command means and the dog needs more training.

  • If your dog responds to your command in some situations and not others then it is likely that he is ignoring you. To stop this from happening:

  • In the event your dog is jumping up and all over you, give him a quick “SIT’ or “DOWN” command to put him in his place and let him know that sort of thing will not be tolerated.

Follow Through

At the very least, throw in a few commands whenever you take your dog for a walk, like “sit” when you come to a street corner. “Down” while waiting for traffic. This reminds the dog of your alpha position.

Teach your dog the commands listed below as a minimum. They are particularly good for reinforcing your position as the “Alpha Dog;” someone to be listened to and obeyed.

  • Sit - Stay

  • Down - Stay

The “down” command is especially important because it puts the dog in a highly vulnerable, submissive position… flat on his belly. In this position, the dog knows he is not the alpha dog!

Help From Cesar Millan, The Dog Whisperer

"Be The Pack Leader - Use Cesar's Way To Transform Your Dog.... and yourself!"

  • Here's an excellent book from the well-known TV celebrity, Cesar Millan. "Be the Pack Leader" is all you need to know about controlling any dog without being the "boss."

  • Click on the book cover and when you get to, scroll down about 10 inches to Editorial Reviews for a description of the contents of the book.

  • About the book: Cesar is NOT a dog trainer, so he says. This book does not give step by step instruction, as such. It's a visual and verbal understanding of how to communicate with dogs to the extent they understand exactly what you want them to do, and they DO IT!

  • He teaches the 1) Exercise 2) Discipline 3) Affection (in that order)system. Much of what he teaches works for us humans as well as for the dogs. The book has plenty of real life examples of actual cases. The Appendix, "A Quick Reference Guide To Becoming A Better Pack Leader" pretty much sums it all up.

  • The book gives you a solid understanding of how to communicate with your dog, often without words.

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