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Be the Pack Leader Steps a Dog Owner Should Take to Become the Alpha
Mar 10, 2010 Angel Chavis
Many times a dog will attempt to be the head of the pack. If the owner is not fulfilling that role, the dog feels that it needs to take that place. Dogs are pack animals and packs run a certain way- there is always a top dog. Fortunately, there are things that an owner can do to help a dog understand that it is not the head of the pack. The dog will then step down, often very willingly. The Pack Leader Goes First
A dog that runs ahead of its owner is exhibiting dominance over its owner. Whether entering a house, walking up stairs, or going through a doorway- the owner should always go before the dog. The dog should be told to sit and/or stay while the owner goes first. Once the owner has gone ahead, he should then use a command to give the dog permission to go as well. If the dog goes ahead without the command, the dog should be put back into place and forced to wait for the command. This puts the dog in the mindset of being submissive to the owner. Nothing is Free
A dog that jumps on its owner and/or runs uncontrollably at its food is showing dominant, pack leader behavior. After all, the pack leader always eats first and does not have to show respect or preference for other members of the pack. That is why a dog should be made to sit and stay while its food is being placed into its bowl and only allowed to go to the bowl and eat when it is given the command to do so. This may not be easy to accomplish, especially if the dog has been the alpha for a while. It may be necessary to hold the dog in the sit position until the release command is given. If the dog continues to have an excited state of mind at meal time it may be necessary to take the food away and try an hour later, at which time the dog will probably show more respectful, submissive behavior. (Delaying mealtime for an hour won't hurt. Never starve a dog!) Getting on the Furniture and in the Bed is a Privilege
Many household dogs think that getting on the couch and in the bed is their right, when it is really a privilege. If a dog growls when disturbed or shows any aggression regarding being on furniture especially, it must be taught that it can get on the furniture by invitation only. Simply putting the dog on the floor when it jumps up and/or growls or shows aggression is very effective. Decide on a command that lets the dog know that it is OK to jump up. If the dog jumps up without the command, put it back down on the floor. Wait a while, and then issue the command. This will also work wonders in having the dog show the owner respect and recognition as head of the pack.
Once these steps are implemented, the owner will notice a big difference in the dog's behavior and the relationship between dog and owner. It is easy for an owner to let their dog believe it is head of the pack, especially if it is a small dog, but that is neither healthy nor practical. The whole family and the dog will be much happier and well adjusted when the dog knows its place in the family/pack.