Dog Training: How You Can Be the Alpha Dog

Establish Yourself as the Alpha

In extreme cases, you may have to make your dog really, really want you to lead him. That means you can’t fawn on him, even though you love him. Fawning is what subordinates do to their leader. You want your dog to fawn on you, and one way that might help bring him around is to ignore him for several days. (Needless to say, you must continue to provide care, food, water and walks during this period.) He may demand your attention, pushing his head under your hand for petting, poking you with his nose or placing his foot in your lap, but that’s not good enough. Leader dogs grant their attention only when they feel like it, not at the beck and call of subordinates.

Of course, it hurts too much to ignore him completely or forever, so have him earn your attention by sitting nicely when you ask him to. In fact, make him earn everything. Meals, treats, games, even walking through doorways should be dependent on your dog sitting on cue for just a second beforehand. Reward him for calm, happy behavior, especially when he is doing something you ask of him. Nothing in life is free, but it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Remember, this is only for dogs who think they can be the leader; more often, your dog will gladly let you be the leader if you show just a little leadership quality yourself.

With most dogs, you can establish your leadership position by not allowing the dog to take liberties with you, such as pulling you around or jumping on you. Be a leader by leading the dog in cooperative activities such as walks and training games. Earn respect by being clear about what’s expected, guiding your dog through various experiences, rewarding him for cooperation and letting him know when his behavior is unacceptable.

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