In any relationship between a dog and owner it is essential that their respective roles are clear. From the time when humans and wolves/dogs first began living together they have lived as master and helper/partner. Humans have been the “alpha” member of the partnership, in wolf terms, and dogs have been the junior partners, though treated with love and respect.
Many of the problems that dog owners have with their dogs stem from the fact that their personal relationship with their dog has become confused. If the owner is not acting like the alpha in his or her relationship with their dog, the dog will assert himself and take over that position. As the dog sees things, someone has to be in charge and if you aren’t doing your job, your dog thinks it’s up to him to take charge. Your dog would be a lot happier if you would take charge again and be the alpha in the relationship. It’s actually a huge responsibility to be in charge and most dogs don’t want it.
Helpful Tips On How To Be Viewed As The Alpha
If your relationship with your dog has slipped and your dog is behaving like the alpha in the relationship, you are probably having some problems with your dog. He may be showing signs of aggression at home. He may be growling at you at times. He may be guarding his food bowl or objects. He may not move when you want him to get off the furniture. He may act defiant no matter what you tell him to do. Your dog is under the impression that he’s in charge and you are a subordinate so he is letting you know it.
First, if you ever feel that you are in danger from your dog you need to contact a professional trainer or canine behavior consultant to help you with your problem. In situations like these your dog could bite you. If you become afraid of your dog, contact a professional for help.
Next, there are some things you can do to take back your position as alpha in the home such as:
- Start by removing your dog’s food bowl. Feed your dog entirely by hand. Every bite of food your dog eats should come from your hand. Nothing will remind your dog faster that he depends on you than showing him he needs you for his food. Don’t give him his bowl back until his behavior improves significantly.
- If your dog is guarding toys or other objects, remove them. Take them away when your dog is busy somewhere else. Get rid of them completely. He won’t be able to guard them or keep them from you if they aren’t where he can get them. He has lost his privileges with them until his behavior improves greatly.
- If your dog is sleeping in your bed, get him off. Your dog does not deserve the privilege of sleeping in your bed, on the same level with you, when he does not appreciate the privilege. He should sleep on the floor or crated at night. You can even have him sleep in another room. He may howl, so be prepared for him to protest. To learn more about this, check out our blog post titled “Reason Why Your Dog Should Not Sleep In Your Bed”.
- If your dog has been trained, start requiring him to obey some obedience commands before he can go outside to relieve himself or before he eats.
- If your dog has never been trained, sign up for an obedience class immediately. Training is one of the best ways to restore your alpha position. Training will emphasize your position as alpha and your dog’s position as the one who is supposed to obey you, and not the other way around. Most dogs enjoy learning, too. Plus, having some more socialization with your dog will be good for him. Training is a good way for the two of you to re-bond.