The majority of the human population has a natural instinct for leadership. Each of us has different styles of leadership depending on our personality. Just like humans, most dogs also have a natural knack for this too.
While some dog breeds are more dominant than others, other dominant dogs may be the result of inadequate training. These types of dogs are called dominant or alpha dogs.
Just like wolves, dogs usually have one leader per pack and that is usually you, their master. But what if your little puppy is growing up also wanting to be the pack leader? Sooner or later, this situation could lead to a lot of problems and one may even lead to a violent disaster.
To help you out with a budding dominant pup, we have compiled 5 ways on how to prevent those problems and how to properly handle a dominant dog.
- Set some ground rules, boundaries and limitations
Before you buy a fur baby on a puppy for sale post, pet shop, breeder, or animal shelter, you need to research and set what rules need to be implemented before you let them inside your house.
Setting rules, boundaries, and limitations is very crucial for alpha dogs because failing to set these offers an opportunity for their dominant selves to emerge.
Remember that there should be rules for when your dog can go inside the house. They should also know that they always have to wait before going in or out the door and that they won’t be able to get their food until they are calm.
With alpha dogs, you could also try things like agility training, which will allow them to use their excess energy as they move and lead themselves through obstacle courses.
- Utilize Feeding Time As An Advantage
In family mealtimes, usually the eldest or most respected member of the family gets to eat first.
In a dog pack, the leaders always get to eat first, and the same should be enforced at home with your dog/s. With alpha dogs, the human needs to enforce a boundary around the family table and not allow dogs to go near while people are eating.
When the feeding time approaches, your dog should remain calm and know how to wait before the bowl of food is given. As the owner of the dog, you should also be able to walk away from it first, then give the signal word “okay” before your dog can eat.
- Assign Tasks to Your Dog
One of the ways to handle a dominant dog is to offer them a role in the pack. It’s important for humans to give their dog a job or a simple task. Sample tasks can be as simple as having them wear a backpack during outside walks, or training them in agility courses, search and rescue, obedience training, swimming, helping you with house chores, and many more.
Remember that if your dog is already dominant, then humans need to be stronger pack leaders.
- Practice Being Calm-Assertive
We know that puppy charms can be irresistible and hard to ignore. And that’s okay. But when you start taking care of a puppy, you need to be calm and assertive.
Dogs can often feel unstable energy and they will not follow their owners if they sense it. This is even more noticed by alpha dogs, who will often try to correct what they see as unbalanced behavior. This is why dog owners have to be calmer and more assertive when dealing with a dominant dog.
If you’re feeling anxious or nervous, dogs will be able to sense this right away, and an alpha dog will be able to see it as their cue to take charge. On the other hand, if dog owners are calm and assertive, the alpha dog will perceive this and will be able to interpret the situation as ‘everything is alright’, and they won’t feel the need to protect and shout orders at their pack.
- Stop Giving Unwanted Affection
Giving unwanted affection to puppies can be a problem when training young puppies. Yes, it’s hard to resist giving attention to your fur child but do not give unnecessary affection to your dominant dog. These types of dogs are usually more unapproachable and act more like lone wolves.
Keep in mind that in a pack, the leaders usually do not approach their followers. Instead, the followers are the ones who come to approach their leaders.
When humans give too much unwanted affection to their alpha dogs, they become more dominant. When owners slip up and act just like a follower would do, this gives them the excuse and motivation to become more dominant.
If your dog is dominant, the best thing to do is to ignore them and stand your ground. When your dog wants attention, wait for them to come to you. By giving them space and not being too cuddly, it reinforces your role as the pack leader.
Training a pup is hard work and not to be taken lightly. But by taking note of these five tips, it can help establish your position as a pack leader and help keep a smooth-sailing relationship with your dog.