Behavior Tips & Tricks Issue #3: Becoming The Alpha
In the last issue we talked about basic house training techniques. In this issue we are going to talk about importance of being the boss (alpha) during your behavioral training sessions.
As we well know dogs are naturally pack animals, which means they need an alpha to lead them. This also means that you, the owner must act as the alpha if you want your training exercises to be successful. Your dog should consider you as the boss for aspects of his training and daily life.
When it comes to establishing and maintaining dominance over your dog, there are several exercises you can use. While every dog has its own individual personality and varying degrees of submissiveness most dogs are completely content to be a submissive member of the pack.
When it comes to identifying dominant behavior in most cases, people misinterpret adolescent behavior as dominance, when in fact it is not.
Comparing it to a human child testing their parents; most of the time your dog is simply testing its limits to see how far it can go and what it can get away with. When you are dog thinks it's a good idea to test your limits it's important that you, as the trainer correct them firmly, while avoiding a domination battle.
This can be done with a sharp word command and reinforced with one of the many training tools available at your local pet store. For instance a clicker trainer, whistle or my favorite a squirt bottle with water. Most dogs are still young until they are 2 or 3 years old (in human terms, they are still in the angst, teenage years). In Layman's terms, do not confuse physical maturity with mental maturity.
– Becoming the alpha
In a dog's mind an alpha leader is fair, and deserves its position. They don't use fear, punishment or brute force to achieve, and maintain their position as head of the pack. Instead, they make it clear what behavior they approve of and which it does not.
An alpha leader expects its subordinates to follow its lead; it does not force them. Meaning you, the owner or trainer, in order for it to be a good leader, should be calm, focused, and rational at all times.
Just like any other training, praising your pet is an excellent way to reward them for good behavior. as the alpha it's important to always show approval of signs of submission. This helps strengthen your place as the ultimate alpha.
For instance, praise your dog when it drops its eyes first and when it licks your chin, because these are signs of submission. You can also give them an enthusiastic tummy rub, when they roll over in their back. While these little things may sound too simple to be effective, that is exactly why they work!
When assuming your role as the alpha leader in its extremely important to be consistent, and fair in your corrections. Demonstrate to your pet that it can trust your commands. Corrections must be immediate. Since your dog has no associative memory like people do, so don't correct them after the fact, the correction will have no impact on your behavioral training and only serve to confuse your faithful canine companion.
It is important that your pet recognizes you as the pack leader otherwise you'll end up having a dog that is this misbehaves regularly. Once your pet recognizes you as the alpha leader you will see that it is much easier for you to get them to follow your commands.
Make sure you look for your next issue soon. We will be talking about importance of socialization and how it will affect your behavioral training sessions.