Thousands of years of evolution has taught the canine, descended from wolves, that he must rely on you for survival. You are the source of food, the source of water, in short: their source of life. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always translate into “alpha” status in your household. Training a dog is hard work. Whether it’s an 8 week old puppy or an 8 year old rescue, it’s important to establish who the “alpha” in the household is.
Dogs and Rules
In the wolf pack, there are rules and social structure. Dogs, though considered a member of the family, must learn to obey and follow the rules of their owners. Unfortunately, even if the dog recognizes that alpha in the household, he may not accept others in the house as above him as well. Therefore, it is important that all people living within the house follow through with the same rules.
Discourage Negative Behavior
Establishing an alpha position also means following through with the discouragement of bad behavior. For example, if the dog growls when other people come near his food bowl, it is important to tell him “no,” or use your preferred method of discouragement. This could mean taking the food dish or the treat away repeatedly until he recognizes that growling at others is an unacceptable behavior.
Finally, be patient. Success with training and becoming the “alpha” in the household is never instant. It requires time, patience, repetitive training and so forth. Dogs of any age cannot be trained overnight, though some may be more willing than others. Quality time is also important, including regular exercise, to ensure a happy, well-rounded dog.
Becoming the “alpha dog” for a household can take quite a bit of work, over any length of time. Once the status has been established, it is important it remain established. Leniency of rules can cause the dog to think he is becoming the new alpha. Following through with rules, remaining consistent and above all, being patient, are the keys to success.
Lisa Mason writes for Doggie Clothesline, an online dog clothing and accessories boutique. She is also the proud owner of her own furry four-legged friend named Vincent.