There are many reasons that a person may find themselves needing to become the alpha dog of their pack, but the most common reason is that a person needs to regain control of their dog(s).
When a single dog begins to believe they are the alpha member, it can cause a lot of stress on everyone involved, including the dog that is claiming the alpha position.
Since keeping the alpha position is so important, here are some steps/tips on how to earn and keep your alpha position.
1. Praise your dog lovingly, but not timidly.
Don’t be overly rough with your dog when it comes to praise, but don’t be timid either. Your touch should be loving, but firm. Hug, pat, and love on him/her firmly.
2. Praise your dog quickly.
It is very important to offer your dog plenty of praise, especially when they do something worthy of praise; however, if your dog is currently having issues identifying who the alpha is, try not to drag out the praise for too long.
Praise firmly and timely in order to let your dog know that you are still the boss, but that you appreciate what he is doing correctly.
3. When correcting your dog’s behavior, do so in a firm, gentle, and quick manner.
It is important to remember that in a pack, your dog would normally be corrected by the alpha of the group. This also means that you must correct your dog’s behavior, and you must do so in a firm way. If this means a firm leash tug, a clap to get their attention, or even keeping food until the dog has waited properly, do so.
Once you’ve corrected the behavior, reassure your dog that the correct behavior is what you wanted by patting or hugging them.
4. Yes, he heard you.
When giving your dog a command, only say it once. Your dog heard you, so just wait until he/she obeys, even if you have to stand there for a while. Repeating yourself may make your dog believe that you don’t hold as much authority as you want.
5. Only give a command if you can correct your dog if/when they don’t listen.
Always be sure that you can correct your dog. If your dog takes off across the neighborhood, yelling “come,” and not having your dog respond correctly is as bad as it can get for training and for presenting yourself as the alpha.
In this case, you cannot immediately correct your dog, and he/she now has one more reason to believe you are not an authority.
In this situation, it is better to simply walk after your dog until he/she becomes bored of walking away. This lets your dog know that you are not letting them get away with leaving, and that you have the authority to bring him/her back to the pack.
6. Give/Deny permission.
If your dog truly believes that it is the alpha, one of the fastest ways to stop this way of thinking is to deny and give permissions that are normally just given to him/her. For instance, don’t feed the dog when he/she begins to whine. Instead, poor the food, and stand with it for a few moments. If your dog still seems to be demanding of the food, wait some more. This is not cruel.
Your dog is not going to starve from not being fed that very second. Instead, this reinforces, for your dog(s), that you are the alpha, and you get to say when and how things are done, including food time, play time, and when/where everyone will relax.
7. When returning to a room, don’t give in to your dog’s excitement.
Acting as if it is no big deal when you return to a room will reinforce that you are alpha. When your dog becomes excited, they are demanding your attention at that very moment. If you give in, a dog can confuse this for you obeying their commands.
Remember, these don’t apply to all or every dog. All dogs are different, but if your dog is struggling with the idea of alpha, this may be one way to help your dog understand.
8. Greet visitors first.
In a pack, the alpha would be the one to inspect and greet newcomers first. This means you must also take this role when being the alpha dog. Greet visitors first, and let your dog greet second, third, or in whatever position your dog falls within the pecking order.
9. Do not walk around your sleeping dog.
If your dog is in your way, either have them move, or walk over them. If you walk around, you may give your dog the impression that your life literally revolves around them.
10. Lastly, don’t engage in staring contests with your dog.
Eye contact is actually very important to some dogs, and they will see a staring contest as a way of deciding who is boss. If you look away, blink, or even if they think you did, you have already lost the battle. This will only reinforce your dog’s belief that he/she is the dominant one. Suddenly, you are no longer the alpha, they are.