The Alpha Factor: Pack Leader Activities
This article is designed to help you solve minor problems, or to make an educated decision on what your ‘next step’ is. It is not intended to replace behavior therapy if your dog has bitten you, or is threatening you. If you didn’t read Part 1 of this article you can read it here Alpha Factor
Many of our puppy owners in the Great Beginnings program do not understand the importance of being alpha. They want to be their dog’s friend. They want their dog to fill a void a child would normally fill. They want their dog to love them. If these are what you want, then you must be your dog’s alpha.
The Alpha Dog is a Leader
The alpha is not the dictator or ‘king’ of the pack. To be alpha you will need to develop a strong working relationship with your dog. You and your dog will become ‘bonded’ in a way that few pet/owner relationships ever achieve.
Your dog and you will have your own private communication language. They will share a relationship built on trust and ‘safety’.
Go on pack walks and make sure that no one in the pack bullies or argues with another dog. Everyone must walk quietly and enjoy the day. The leader leads the way, so make sure that no dog wants to be out front. If a dog does surge then stop. Your first few walks may be very short – but that is okay.
On these pack walks the dogs should be focused on you. At first you will need treats and toys, but as time goes on and as you establish yourself as pack leader then you will find the dogs are not only willing to pay attention to you, but they are happy to do it.
Do not let the dogs eat with you. They should sit quietly and wait until you are done. Do not let them stare at you and beg. Set up a mat where the dog must lay and wait until you are finished.
Also, we do not support free feeding. Dogs should not have their own food dish – unless you feed raw. Instead, make the dogs work for their food. Very few dogs eat so much that you cannot feed them through training and play throughout the day.
You may stuff Kongs and other toys and put them in the crate so that the dog can learn to be calm when alone.
Do not let your dog demand attention. When you enter a room, return home from work, or pick up a lead, then ignore your dog and wait a moment until your dog calms. Do not respond quickly when your dog calms, but wait a few seconds, then give your dog attention.
When your dog jumps on you, barks at you, or leans into you and tries to push you backwards, then suddenly ‘stop’ and break off communication until the dog stops.
Never, ever, let a dog push you backwards. If the dog pushes you then brace yourself and make sure the dog is the one who moves backwards.
Do Not Let a Dog Beg or Demand
Do not beg your dog repeatedly to obey you. If it does not obey the first time then shorten the lead and wait until it does obey, or if the dog is over-aroused then give it a time out.
Never raise your voice when training your dog. The dog will learn that it can ignore you until it hears a specific tone of voice, or until you sound angry.
My Dog is Testing My Alpha Position
- If your dog is challenging you then you need to change a few things in your daily life:
- If your dog is laying in your way then make the dog move, do not step around it.
- Never let your dog’s head be higher than you.
- Do not let the dog on the couch.
- Do not let your dog stare you down. Whoever looks away first is the looser. If you don’t win then your dog’s position as alpha is reinforced.
- Do not let your dog sleep in your bed.
- Do not let the dog put its mouth on you, ever. If it does then put it in a crate for a couple of hours. If you were playing then end the game.
- Do not let the dog run around outside ‘alone’ to practice independence and survival skills.
- Every kibble of food must come out of your hand. If you are not feeding the dog, it does not eat.
- The dog has no toys. You provide all toys when you want to play and all the toys, or all the best toys are put away. I believe some dogs must be allowed to self-satisfy to be able to manage their own stress levels.
- The dog must never be allowed to pull the leash. If it does, stop and do not walk forward until it is calm. If it doesn’t calm then take a step backwards. IF a dog is pulling towards something then make sure that it does not get to what it wants.
Last and Most Important
You are now on the journey to becoming alpha so it is your responsibility to make sure your dog receives enough social interaction, mental stimulation, exercise, and education to meet its emotional needs. You cannot become frustrated and lose your dog’s trust.
Forget your agenda or desires. It doesn’t matter if your dog takes 3 weeks, or 3 months, to start treating you as alpha, if you try to force the issue, or start wavering on the rules, then you will not become alpha, and your dog will continue its inappropriate behaviors.
If you need more help please contact our Dog Trainers, London Ontario or Contact us on our Facebook page