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become your dog’s Alpha dog
By MS du Toit
domesticated dog has
descended from the wolf and has over the years allowed mankind to tame
it. The problem is that each and every dog, even your most beautiful
miniature French Poodle, still has some wolf in him. Dogs have
instincts that are so engraved into them and we do not always realise
just how much these affect their behaviours. Many, if not most, dog
behaviour problems could have been prevented, had we better understood
how their “wolf” instincts work.
Dog behaviour training is
necessary to resolve problems such as dominant aggression, separation
anxiety, jumping up on visitors, fear aggression and pulling on the
lead. These can all be traced back to the owner’s lack of
knowledge of pack hierarchy or his ignorance towards it. What many
people do not fully understand is that the only human language that a
dog can understand is body language. Dogs can not understand words.
They can learn by repetition and through association that the sound of
a certain spoken word means that they should perform a certain action
that will most probably earn them a reward.
Without realising it
you as owner many times just assume that the dog knows that you are the
top dog. You do not realise that through your body language you have
actually made the dog the leader. The dog, on the other hand, now has
to act as the leader.
For him you are his subordinate, for example:
- the dog is chewing on a bone, you want to take the
bone from him – he growls and snaps
- you take the dog for a walk, he is the leader and the
leader must be in front to protect is pack so he pulls on the lead.
How to restore the
hierarchy and establish yourself as alpha dog:
your puppy play bite your hand or arm, take hold of him with both hands
and put him in a submissive position down on his side and growl at him
with a loud low tone voice. Use just enough force to hold him in that
position for a few seconds. Obviously how stronger, older and more
dominant the dog is, the more strength you will have to use.
- You must always be the one who initiates play and who
ends the game. You may never let your dog make that decision.
- Never allow the dog to go through a doorway first.
You are the leader and you must go first.
- When you feed the dog, you must eat something and
make sure he sees you, before you put down his food.
you leave the house for any reason, leave without making a fuss. In
fact you should totally ignore your dog. Ignore means no words, no eye
contact, no touching and hugging.
- When you arrive back home you
should again totally ignore your dog. The first few times he might
still be jumping up. Just turn your back on him and don’t even push him
off or say “off”, because that in it self, is attention. When he has
settled down, then you call him and give attention.
- Once in a
while, for the better part of the day, fasten your dog to yourself with
his lead so he has to follow you wherever you go.
- Teach your
puppy the “chill” command. Again, put your puppy on his side and give
the command. He will most probably resist that, just press a little
harder, growling at him every time he tries to get up. Gently run your
one hand over his body, speaking softly to him. You will start noticing
that his body relaxes. Keep him in that position for 10 to 20 minutes.
This is a good exercise to do while watching TV.
- The more
dominant the dog is, the lower it should be. In other words, keep him
off the couches and off the beds. The more dominant dog should not even
be allowed in your bedroom.
If every new dog or puppy
owner would follow these simple guidelines, the behaviour problems
mentioned can be prevented. These guidelines should also be followed by
owners with dogs already displaying these problems. The guidelines
should not only be followed one day a week at the dog training school,
but everyday at home. The duration of the restoration process will
depend on the individual dog, the compliance of the owner as well as
the severity of the problem, but even the most severe cases can be
resolved by following these rules.
MS du Toit has been training dogs for ten years.
Please visit her Dog
Training Review Page.
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