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How To Become The Alpha Dog With Your Puppy (8 Simple Steps)

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By Nicole Cosgrove

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Whether you have an already dominant puppy, you’re looking to take the reins while your dog is still young, or you are preparing to raise a breed like the Husky that needs a pack leader, you must become the alpha dog in your pack.

Most dogs are happy to be submissive. In fact, some dogs are so submissive that you may need to limit your alpha dog tendencies to build their confidence a little. With that said, some breeds will take control if they do not believe there is a suitable alpha in the pack, while other breeds may naturally try to assert their dominance in a bid to become the alpha dog themselves.Divider 8

Why Do Alpha Dog Training?

training a yorkshire terrier dog
Image Credit: Pezibear, Pixabay

You must be considered the alpha dog. If you are alpha, your puppy will be more inclined to learn and listen to your commands. They will follow your guidance to determine what is right and wrong behavior, and they will treat you with respect. From the dog’s point of view, being alpha is highly stressful. It carries a lot of responsibility, and if your dog feels that they need to take on the alpha role, it can lead to anxiety and stress.

These tips will help to rein in your pup and make sure you stay in control.

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The 8 Steps To Becoming The Alpha Dog:

1. Get Family And Friends On Board

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Whether you are embarking on obedience training, teaching good manners, or asserting your dominance as the alpha dog, you will need everybody that lives in the house or visits regularly to get involved and get on board.

2. Determine Ground Rules

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Image Credit: William Scott Smith Sr, Shutterstock

Sit down with your family and ensure that you all have a clear understanding of the ground rules.

  • Will you let your dog go anywhere in the house, and at any time?
  • Will he be allowed on the beds?
  • What about sofas?

These are questions that you need to answer together, but you should also lay ground rules to ensure that your family is demanding the same behavior from your dog as you are.

These might include:
  • No treat feeding except during training
  • People should walk through doorways before dogs

3. Be Calm

bad behavior dog being punished_ANURAAK PONNGPATIMET_Shutterstock
Credit: ANURAK PONGPATIMET, Shutterstock

Being the pack alpha does not mean being aggressive, cruel, or physical. You should be able to assert your dominance by using verbal commands and corrective training techniques alone. You shouldn’t need to shout or scream at your dog, either. You wouldn’t pin your toddler child down to the ground or scream in their faces when setting boundaries, and you shouldn’t do that with your dog either. Be calm but be direct and command with purpose.

4. Socialize And Train

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Image: thka, Shutterstock

It is easy to restrict your training and education to the house, surrounded only by people that you know, but this isn’t the best approach. Your dog may not show signs of being the alpha in the pack until he is presented with challenging and unexpected situations.

Socialize him to see how he acts when meeting strangers, and to give you the chance to show that you are the alpha and that you control these situations. If you are viewed as the alpha, your puppy will look to you for guidance in new situations and will learn what to do according to what you do.

5. Correct Unwanted Behavior

Welsh Corgi dog being punished_Vitalii Matokha_shutterstock
Credit: Vitalii Matokha, Shutterstock

Consider your ground rules and correct your puppy if he breaks those rules. If you have decided not to allow him on the sofa, be sure to correct him whenever he tries to climb up on the sofa. Initially, this may require some physical assistance. You can nudge or pick them up and remove them from the sofa, but don’t shove or throw them. All family members should follow the ground rules that were set up earlier on. You won’t be able to recognize when your puppy is challenging your position if they haven’t been told what is good and what is bad behavior.

6. Prevent Dominant Behavior

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Image Credit: 825545, Pixabay

Before you can prevent dominant behavior, you need to learn to recognize when a dog is trying to become dominant and when they are just acting like a teenager or because they are excited.

  • Strictly speaking, you should never feed your dog before you eat. The alpha dog eats first and, at the very least, you should make him wait before he dives in and wolfs it all down.
  • You should walk through doorways before your dog does. This might take some training and is another action that will need the whole family to get behind to ensure that it works.
  • When walking, you should walk ahead of your dog. The alpha dog walks at the front of the pack and leads the rest of the dogs.

By instilling actions like these, you not only teach your puppy that you are the alpha, but you can do so in a non-threatening and loving way, rather than an aggressive and physical manner.

7. Ensure They Obey All Family Members

mother arguing with her little daughter about dog_hedgehog94_shutterstock
Credit: hedgehog94, Shutterstock

All family members should be above the puppy in social rank. This means that all family members need to assert their dominance over the puppy. They should follow these same rules that you have applied yourself. If you have young children that may be intimidated or get bored of following the guidelines, ensure that all time between them and your puppy is supervised.

8. Be Consistent

Therapy Dog Trainer
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Throughout your training, and while instilling yourself as the alpha dog, you need to be consistent. If you don’t allow your dog on the sofa, nobody should allow it. If you are going to insist on walking in front of your dog, you should do it every time you leave the house, and regardless of how excited they are. Dogs will improve bad behavior and they will learn to treat you as the alpha dog, but it requires consistency to avoid confusion.Divider 4

Signs Of Alpha Dog Dominance

Is a dog licking you a sign of dominance?

Dog licking can be a sign of dominance or submission, depending on the situation and the dog’s behavior.

If the licking is a sign of submission, your dog will lower themselves closer to the ground and try to make themselves look smaller. If it is a dominant move, they will attempt to tower over you or the person being licked, as they try to show themselves as being the boss.

What does it mean when a dog puts his paw on you?

There are several reasons why your puppy might put his paw on you. He could be demanding attention or telling you that he believes it’s time for food. In either case, it could be argued that he is showing dominance because he is telling you that it is time to give him attention or feed him. You should train to prevent this kind of behavior, follow a routine feeding regimen, and give your puppy plenty of attention but according to your schedule.

He could be looking for reassurance when he is feeling stressed. As difficult as it might be, you should not console your dog or provide him with comfort. This will reinforce the fact that there is something to worry about. Try to distract him by playing or giving him something else to think about, but remember that if you give your dog a treat every time he shows signs of stress, he will learn.

If you are stroking your dog when he puts his paw on you, he is returning the affection, and this is acceptable behavior.

Is a dog sitting on you a sign of dominance?

Generally speaking, a dog sitting on your lap is not a sign that they are asserting dominance. They likely want to be close to you. It could also be that the elevated position affords them a better view out of the window, of course.

If he barks or growls at other pets or, worse still, other family members, while on your lap, then this could be a sign that they feel the need to be assertive, and it is time for you and your family to take the alpha role.

Should your dog sleep in your bed?

If you’re happy having your dog in bed with you and your dog is otherwise well-adjusted and does not show signs of dominance or other behavioral problems, it is unlikely to cause any feelings in your dog other than elation. However, we do have different sleep patterns, and some dogs are natural spreaders. It could affect your sleeping pattern. In which case, it may be best to discourage this behavior as early as possible.Divider 5

Become The Alpha Dog With Your Puppy: Final Thoughts

The Alpha dog is the leader of the pack, and the rest of the pack will follow their lead. This means that a pack with a sensible, calm, and well-adjusted alpha, will be equally calm and stable. By asserting your position of alpha, you can ensure that your pack adopts the attributes you want. It can also reduce anxiety in your dog and provide you both with a more enjoyable home and family life.

Featured Image Credit: Katrin B., Pixabay

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