How to ALPHAbetize Yourself - Help Your Dog Regard You as a Leader

posted: by: South Grand Veterinary Clinic Tags: "Clinic Specials" "News" 

If you dog is rather pushy and out of control, lacks respect for you point of view and doesn't mind letting you know about it, he or she could be showing signs of the ALPHA SYNDROME.

The Alpha Syndrome is at the root of many behavior problems. IN MOST CASES, WE ARE NOT REALLY DEALING WITH A PROBLEM DOG, BUT A PROBLEM ENVIRONMENT OR PROBLEM RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN DOG AND OWNERS. Dogs, just like their ancestor the wolf, need a leader. If the dog is not provided with appropriate guidance, if in the dog's opinion, you are not a worthy leader, your dog may try to take over and call the shots. In other words, your dog may be running for higher office.

The ALPHAbetizing plan will make an improvement on how your dog views the social hierarchy in your pack. This plan involves changing daily interactions with your dog. It does not resort to punishment and very few actual TRAINING exercises are used. Implement as many of the concepts as you possibly can. Stay with it for several weeks.

The following notes will help you remember the principle features of each concept. Good luck and remember - dog ownership is not a democracy. Be firm, be patient, be consistent, but be ALPHA.

A Leader must first get the follower's attention
  • Encourage eye contact which sets up communication channels and a bond
A leader is dependable
  • Scheduled meals aid in housetraining problems and puts your dog in a position of dependence on you for food.
Leaders eat first
  • Make it a point to feed the pet after you have eaten. Dogs are nonverbal communicators. This is a statement. Remember the National Geographic specials! Which wolf eats first?
Earning praise and treats
  • Stop all food treats and petting for you dog during this rehabilitation period except what is "earned" by obeying a command. Example: If your dog comes to you for attention, tell the dog to "sit" before petting.
Leaders go first
  • Don't allow you dog to charge in and out of "territory" before you.
The leader controls territory
  • A follower yields to the leader. For instance: If your dog is lying down in a hallway and you wish to pass, Make you dog move, don't step over or around.
Leaders mean what they say
  • When giving your dog a command, don't beg or scream, speak in low, firm tones. Remember, no matter how simple the command, give it only once and make sure to help your dog comply.
Leaders are winners
  • Keep tug-of-war games brief so you dog won't become overly excited. Be sure to win and while your dog is watching, put the toy away for the day, out of your dogs reach
Life with your dog is not a democracy
  • Your dog may sleep in your bedroom at night, but not on your bed. Sleeping together in the bed makes you seem like a littermate, and equal.
Talk to your Veterinarian
  • Neutering your pet has a positive impact on behavior problems.
Muzzle control is a naturally dominant gesture
  • Put your hand over the top of your dog's muzzle and gently hold it there for a few seconds. This can be a regular part of your petting and attention.
Belly up is a natural acceptance posture
  • Once a day invite your dog over for a free belly rub. Show you pet how enjoyable this gesture of submission can be.
A follower allows gentle handling
  • Your goal is to have your dog relax and allow you to brush (or at least pet) the belly area.
Down is a subordinate position
  • Have you dog hold one 30-minute down-stay per day. Enforce it. This can be done while you eat a meal or read the paper, but be sure you are in a position to help your dog stay down.
Train, Don't complain
  • Give your dog about 20 min. of obedience training each day. Break it up into two or three sessions. Remember to praise for a job well done.
ALPHA owners are fun
  • Do some things you know your dog will enjoy, but always remain in charge.
Leaders are fair, kind, consistent
  • Be firm, not harsh. Don't work with your dog if you lose your patience, but stay with it. The concept of an alpha owner will become clear to your dog with consistent repetition.