Describing a dog as “alpha” or “dominant” means that the animal thinks it is the “boss” and leader of the household. In fact, the motivation for this type of behavior is very rare: the dog is just trying to understand the world around him. When you don't have firm rules or the owner doesn't pick up on the pet's body language messages, the animal may want to make its own rules. To change this behavior, try to understand what motivates you, create clear rules, and spend time enforcing them.
Part 1 of 2: Identifying bad behavior and inconsistent rules
Step 1. Identify behaviors that come from inconsistent training
Give a clear, repetitive command so the dog understands what you want. Established an efficient communication that makes the animal understand what you want, other problems can be attended to more easily. Some that arise from inconsistency include, but are not limited to:
- Refusing to get off the furniture: it could be that the messages regarding the subject were confusing. If one member of the family says he can and another says the opposite, the dog will think he can choose, going to sit on the softest furniture.
- Refusing to obey commands or listen: this is not stubbornness or disregard for authority; the training just wasn't the best and the dog believes he can choose whether to obey or not. Furthermore, he can understand that if he responds to the command, he will be punished. Thus, he fails to obey out of fear.
Step 2. Determine what other behaviors need to be eliminated
Such behaviors seem linked to dominance, but the root of the problem is lack of training; it's not hard to fix them! We are talking about the following problems:
- Protecting the food bowl: commonly a result of having had the meal taken from it or being disturbed while eating. After all, pet food is an important resource and defending it is in the nature of dogs for survival reasons. If the animal realizes that its resources are threatened, it can become aggressive.
- “Fucking” other dogs or the owner's leg: this behavior has many explanations, none of which involve dominance; it could be an attempt to joke, to apologize, or even because, when Toto did it with the stuffed animal, everyone laughed.
- Pull on the leash: He's not trying to lead, just eager to get to the park, or maybe he believes that's how you walk with the owner. In short, the dog has not learned to walk together.
- Urinating indoors: this is a warning to others that that territory is theirs (but believe me, it's not for reasons of dominance). Besides, it may just be that the pet doesn't know the correct place to “do the job”.
Step 3. List the behaviors you want to change
They can represent stubbornness, stubbornness or domination. The list will help you prioritize within the training and keep a record of what has been done and what still needs to be done.
Step 4. Identify how you have let these behaviors continue
You may see new patterns popping up as you make the list. In most cases, the dog does not receive consistent and clear training regarding what is appropriate and what is not. As an owner, that's your job; know that lack of leadership is half the problem.
Step 5. Commit to changing behavior through positive training
The purpose of special training for dominant dogs is to learn what motivates them to act in such a way and to create rules so that the animals don't do as they please.
Part 2 of 2: Teaching the Dog to Follow the Rules
Step 1. Avoid training methods that increase stress and aggression
Traditional methods include rolling the alpha male (if the dog doesn't comply, he's held by the throat with his back to the ground), shaking him by the scruff (which immobilizes him), and staring at him until he looks away. However, such methods are not recommended, as they increase the stress that the furry feels and can make him become aggressive due to fear and confusion.
Instead, the owner should try to establish clear rules and train him well so that he understands his role in all situations
Step 2. Start with basic training
It is even preferred that it be based on rewards such as clicker training. The important thing is to teach the connection between the “click-clack” sound and the reward, in addition to pressing the clicker at the exact time the command is being executed; then the dog will know why he is being rewarded.
- The clicker helps the animal understand what is being asked, as well as providing a motivation (the reward) for doing so.
- The basic idea is to do training sessions a few times a day, every day, so that he learns to listen and respect the owner's commands.
Step 3. Make training fun by keeping your tone light and friendly, praising you for getting it right, and ending sessions positively
For example, if Geek doesn't understand a new command, end the session by asking him to do something he knows and praising him for obeying.
Step 4. Make it work to get privileges
It is important that the animal understands that nothing comes for free, that is, it needs to strive to obtain any benefits whatsoever, including meals. The work doesn't have to be difficult; just sit him down before putting the kibble in the bowl. The central idea is that you ask him to do something and he obeys before he gets the reward.
- Remember, the goal is to teach obedience and respect.
- Ask him to do things before taking him on a leash, putting on the kibble, or allowing him to climb onto the couch.
Step 5. Be careful how you pay attention
If you have a problem, for example, with barking, do not yell or punish him, as the animal may understand that you are barking too or paying attention to what he is doing. The best thing to do is to ignore it (ie, pay no attention) and teach the commands “Late” (or “Speak”) and “Quiet” to take control of the situation. Such commands can be taught during the two daily training sessions.
If Toto is naturally authoritarian, you will need to teach him to listen to the owner using attention, that is: if he comes asking for affection, ignore him; at another time, call him and start cuddling and playing. Thus, it will be clear that you are in charge of the situation
Step 6. Fight boredom
A bored dog is more likely to make a mess and come away thinking the alpha. For that not to happen, he needs to have enough mental and physical stimulation; the level of exercise must be appropriate for the size and energy level of the animal in question. For example, a jack russell terrier, although small, has the energy to play all day. Let him run actively (preferably twice a day) so that he is tired and satisfied.
Likewise, a bored dog can make a huge mess. Make training sessions a mental challenge. Another good idea is to provide a feeder with puzzles so that Toto needs to solve it in order to have dinner. When you need to go to work, leave him with something to occupy himself with, like a KONG toy with a treat inside
Step 7. Be consistent with the rules
All members of the household must know them and follow them as well. It might be a good idea to write them down and stick the paper on the refrigerator door.
Some issues that need attention: Can the dog climb on furniture and on the second floor? Does he need to sit down before receiving the ration or for someone to put the collar on? Remember: if a person, whoever you are, does not respect these rules and allows the animal to violate them, it is likely that “kindness” is constructed as an invitation to do what you want. So, all the effort will be for nothing
Step 8. Never punish, hit or yell at the dog
Such attitudes will only make you more anxious and, depending on the threat level, aggressive. Small behaviors can be corrected with a brief denial noise or by sending him to another room for a short period of time (when he returns, make him obey a command immediately, even if it is “Sit”).
Step 9. Understand the hierarchy among animals
If you have several dogs, you will notice that one is more bossy than the others. The furry ones naturally create a small, family-like chain of command, which means that one of them will expect the others to respect him as superior.