Why do we have to be the dog’s chief or Alpha Leader?
Well, to command your dog, you need to be is leader, period, there’s no mid-term. No dog will respond to someone that is not part of his pack, or that is below his own level in the pack’s hierarchy. Let me explain this thoroughly because this is of the highest importance if you want to train any dog.
Dogs like wolfs live in packs, and packs are a social group of animals that live according to a very well defined hierarchy. And when I say very well, I mean that it’s really based on very strict rules.
And in that hierarchy, every dog has a position. He might be the Alpha Leader, and commands every other member of the pack, the beta member (second in the leadership), or have any other position below.
The Alpha Leader is always the dog with the greater responsibility on his “shoulders” because he has to guarantee the safety and thriving of his pack.
He hast to find the best hunting ground, the best places to rest, find water, breed, etc. Usually, it’s also the most nervous dog, due to all the tasks he has to accomplish, and also to maintain his own position inside the pack, because being the leader is always a temptation (yes, even for dogs), and many dogs will try their luck in reaching the top.
So, what do I have to do with this pack concept?
Well, for the domestic dog, his pack is your family. And he will inevitably place himself in a position inside your pack. He will either be the chief (a very bad situation, even dangerous), somewhere else in between (still bad), or the last member (very good situation) of the pack’s hierarchy.
You have to guarantee that your dog is always in the last position of the pack, and don’t worry, he will be happier like this because he doesn’t have any responsibilities (his alpha leader will do all the thinking for him).
TO STRESS OUT THIS CONCEPT, I’m GOING TO TELL YOU SOME STATISTICS THAT COULD BE TOTALLY AVOIDABLE.
In the U.S. alone:
- An estimated 80% of all dog attacks are due to territorial and leadership reasons.
- 18% due to fear and self-defense attacks
- 2% due to neurological diseases (Many of these are caused by continuous abuse by their owners)
We can see by this data, that almost all dog attacks could be avoided if people knew how to dominate their own dogs.
How can I tell if my dog is trying to be the leader?
This is very important, and most people fail to detect this, so here are the most important and basic rules:
- Whenever you give a command to your dog (that you know he understands) and he turns his back on you
- If you let him go through doors ahead of you (leading you)
- When he barks to have something done, and you do it immediately (like opening a door, give him food, etc.)
- He sleeps in your bed or couch
- He eats what he wants from your table
- If he growls at you. Be careful, this is the last stage of the dog before he really bites you in his quest for the leadership. This means you’ve not done the basic rules of dominance consistently. Use a muzzle, and start dominating your dog immediately, and do some basic obedience training, like sit, lay, etc… If he growls again, please seek professional help, you’re in danger, and remember it’s your fault.
How can I dominate my dog?
For a start, you have to behave like a leader. That’s right, you have to make all the decisions for the dog, and you are the one who knows when to feed him, when to go for a walk, where to sleep, where to pee, how to behave, etc… Don’t you ever obey your dog, that’s the first step for disgrace. Ok, let’s see the basic rules for a well-dominated dog:
PROVIDE FOOD FOR HIM
- Dogs respect the one who feeds him. This is due to the pack rules we’ve seen earlier. The Alpha Leader provides food, and the ones below him can eat. When the Alpha leader allows them to, and in the quantities, he thinks are right.
- Always feed your dog at a specific time. Never feed him at random hours. This allows you to enforce the fact that your dog eats what you want when you want.
- Preferably, you should eat your meals before the dog. Make him watch, and don’t worry if he starts asking for food (don’t give him any). He will eat, when you want, what you want, period.
- Before feeding him, spit on his food. Don’t worry it may seem yucky but he won’t mind, and in fact, he will be more submissive. This happens because in a pack the alpha leader eats first, and then the lower ranking dogs eat the remaining food, so they will find the leader’s saliva in the food. All dogs understand this perfectly.
- Leave the food at his disposal for exactly 10 minutes, more than that and the dog will start thinking that the food “is there for the catching” and that it’s not the alpha leader that is feeding him.
- When you use treats in training, give him only when he deserves. After a trick is made successfully for example.
- You have the right to handle the dog as you wish, and that “feeling” must be passed to the dog too. By grooming him periodically, you are claiming, “I can touch you when I want, and where I want”.
- Dogs will also respect whoever takes care of them, so grooming is a good part of that, and both you and your dog will benefit greatly from this.
- Remember, grooming as a double effect as your dog gets dominated (in a good way) and gets fine-looking at the same time.
MAKE HIM COMPLY YOUR ORDERS
- A dog must be a “good soldier”. He must comply with your orders always.
- If a dog starts ignoring you, you must force him to comply, because that’s the first step in the short ladder to dominate you.
- He must do what you want when you want.
- We know this already, but what to do when the dog starts asking for a walk and I was just in a mood for that? Well, you can’t go for a walk right to know. Wait 5 minutes until the dog gives up, and then, by your decision you go for a walk with him. Remember, dogs can be very smart when it comes to dominance, you must not obey him.
- Be careful when going through doors, your dog must follow you, not the other way around.
- He must do what you want when you want.
YOU TAKE HIM FOR A WALK, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND
- When you take him for a walk, you choose where to go, and when to go. If the dog starts pulling in one direction (he shouldn’t if you had trained him properly in off-leash training) you must go the other direction. The dog will start realizing that you know the way, not him.
PRAISE HIM, ONLY WHEN HE DESERVES
- This one is easy, but many times ignored. People have a tendency to pet their dogs too often, even when they don’t deserve. This will destroy the will of the dog to please his owner because there won’t be a reason for it. He receives all the attention anyway, so why bother?
CORRECT HIM WHENEVER IS NECESSARY
- You must correct your dog when necessary because if you don’t he will think his behavior is acceptable and will repeat it whenever he sees fit.
BE CONSISTENT ON ALL THE TOPICS ABOVE
- Yes, consistency is the key to all these methods to work. Don’t overlook this.
Don’t you ever obey your dog
“What do I mean with not obeying my dog? Of course, I would never obey my dog…” Well, the truth is…you will at some point obey your dog. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to not to do that sometimes. Let me explain this better.
Sometimes your dog will bark at you to go outside, and you will open the door to him, or grab your leash and go for a walk with him. Well, …you’ve just obeyed his commands. This is a somewhat obvious example, but there will be less obvious situations that will happen, and you’ll eventually fall for some of them.
The good news is that if this only happens a few times a month, there’s not much of a problem, as long as you keep up the basic training and the dominance exercises.