One of the many responsibilities of owning a dog is to make sure they grow into a well-behaved, friendly pet. The best way of training your pooch and achieving this discipline is to firmly establish yourself as the alpha leader.
Dogs need to know that you’re in charge, and therefore, must obey your rules and commands. After all, it’s only natural for dogs to operate on a social hierarchy considering they’re descended from wolves.
However, establishing this level of dominance over your canine can often be a little more challenging than it sounds.
With this in mind, our guide will take an in-depth look at seven of the most effective methods of demonstrating dominance over your dog in order to establish yourself as the alpha leader.
We’ll also look to answer some of the frequently asked questions to provide further insight into the area.
Make Plenty Of Eye Contact
The first method of establishing dominance over your pooch is to make sure you engage in plenty of direct eye contact. This can be incredibly powerful as all submissive dogs should back down to an alpha in a staring contest.
For instance, you should always make strong eye contact with your dog when giving them commands. This communicates to your pooch that you’re serious about what you’re asking them to do, and therefore, they must listen.
Eye contact is also extremely effective when trying to put an end to your dog’s bad behavior. Simply lock eyes with your furry friend and hold onto that stern, ice-like stare until they succumb and break the gaze.
Follow An “Alpha First” Mentality
Alphas are the dominant force and always come first in a pack. Dog owners should adopt the same mentality, both inside and outside the house.
For example, when taking your dog out for a walk, make sure that you’re always the first one out of the door. Similarly, while out on the walk, you should be at the front, with your dog either by your side or behind you.
It’s important to demonstrate many of the physical characteristics of an alpha, too. Therefore, if you’re in a situation where they challenge your authority, it’s imperative to control your emotions and remain calm and assertive.
This is because many dogs rely on body language, so if they see that you’re unbalanced or unstable, they’ll often view it as an opportunity to seize some power.
Be Consistent With Rules And Commands
Alpha leaders need to be the voice of reason, and consistency is a key part of this. One of the biggest problems that many dog owners face when trying to train their pet is slipping on the rules.
This is the last thing you want to do as the moment you fail to effectively address an infraction is the same moment that you present an opening for your pooch to challenge your authority.
For example, if you give your dog a firm warning when they beg for food at the dinner table, you should be giving them the same stern warning every time they repeat the behavior.
While consistency in rules and commands is most important during puppyhood, dogs are smart so they’ll continually come across new temptations and challenges. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to provide them with consistent training techniques well into adulthood.
Correct Bad Behavior
Correcting bad behavior as quickly as you can is a fundamental part of being an effective alpha. Every dog will try and challenge the authority of their owner at some point, and it’s up to you to firmly put them in their place.
More often than not, misbehavior is your dog simply testing the boundaries. Nevertheless, it’s important to immediately address any wrongdoings – particularly if growling or biting is involved.
In terms of correcting bad behavior, a firm, yet fair approach is recommended. You should avoid yelling or physically striking your dog as this could do more harm than good to your status as alpha.
The best alphas know how to reinforce the rules in a gentle and controlled manner. This can often be as straightforward as basic commands such as “NO” or “STOP”.
Control Their Resources
Another effective way of establishing dominance over your dog is to control their resources so that they’re dependent on you. This usually starts with food, therefore use mealtimes to your advantage.
Dogs should always be submissive when being fed, not begging and whining around the table. Don’t ever give in and feed them ahead of schedule, make sure they know that you’re not a soft touch.
Another way to control your dog’s resources is to hide away their toys. They can be given back to your dog when they’re well behaved and have proved that they deserve them.
Clearing them up and storing them away at night demonstrates to your pooch that you’re in control of them.
Protect Your Personal Space
While a number of dog owners like to feel close to their pets and often let them sleep in the same bed as them, this isn’t the best idea if you’re trying to assert your dominance and become the alpha leader.
Some of the more aggressive breeds of dog may view this as an act of submission, therefore it’s essential to keep your private space to yourself. Yes, you can still cuddle up to your pooch, but this should be done in a place separate to the one in which you sleep.
The same rule applies to your couch. If your dog jumps on you and tries to intrude on your personal space, simply give them a “DOWN” or “OFF” command. While this may seem a little harsh, this type of discipline is required if you want to effectively stamp down your authority.
Have Fun Together
The final method on our list is to have fun together. Asserting your dominance over your dog doesn’t have to be a dull process, you can make it fun for the both of you. Always try to reward good behavior at any given opportunity.
One of the best ways to assert your dominance, yet still show your dog some love, is to groom them on a regular basis. Touching, petting, and handling your pooch will teach them restraint, while at the same time, enjoying the affection and attention.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do You Know If Your Dog Sees You As The Alpha?
If your dog disobeys your orders, stares into your eyes without turning away, or growls and whines at you around food, it’s pretty clear that they don’t see you as the alpha leader.
A submissive dog that considers you the alpha leader will do everything you tell them to, as well as always turn to you for direction in challenging or unfamiliar situations.
Do Dogs Pick A Favorite Person?
Yes, more often than not dogs will pick a favorite person – usually someone who matches their own personality and energy level.
They can still become attached to several other people, but it’s likely that they’ll always turn to their one favorite person when they’re in need of something or scared by a particular situation.
Do Dogs Want To Be In Charge?
The vast majority of dogs aren’t looking to be in charge, they’re just looking for someone suitable to fill the role.
If you’ve got a mischievous or highly energetic dog, their behavior isn’t necessarily challenging your dominance, it’s more of a test in terms of learning the limitations, similar to a young child.
At What Age Do Puppies Stop Biting?
Most puppies will grow out of the mouthing or play biting stage when they reach around three to five months of age. If the behavior persists after this, it’s a good idea to engage in some firm, but fair training.
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