Controlling an Alpha Dog Through Training

In the wild, dogs live in packs lead by an alpha dog-- the dog that is in charge of the pack. Dog behavior in the family home mimics dog behavior in the wild. With proper dog training, alpha dog behaviors such as aggression and disobedience can be eliminated.

Become the Alpha Dog

When you bring a new dog into your home, he will try and establish a dominant position over you and your family. You must become the alpha dog and show that you are the undisputed leader of the pack. The dog shows submission to the leader by different behaviors such as rolling onto their backs or approaching with their heads held low, tail wagging, and licking the muzzle of the pack leader. The key to canine training involves being consistent in your actions and tone of voice and your ability to feel confident as the pack leader. In the wild, the pack leader has little fear or frustration because he is in charge. Work on your own feelings of fear or frustration before interacting with your dog so that in the exercises discussed below, you exude calm, consistent, and confident energy. If you fear your dog, work with a professional trainer to help establish a more rewarding and safe relationship with your dog.

Alpha Dog Training Techniques

Canine training works best when it starts with the young puppy. But most of the same training techniques can establish a safe and happy home with an older dog. In the pack, the alpha dog establishes dominance by making direct and steady eye contact with the members of the pack. With a small dog or puppy, sit on the floor and pick up the dog, holding him just behind his front legs. Look directly into his eyes. If he tries to get away, make a low gutteral sound like a growl. To reinforce eye contact with you, tell him to "watch me" or "look at me". Do this several times a day in different locations. For a larger dog, have the dog down on the floor. Straddle the dog from behind and lift him slightly from underneath the chest with your fingers laced. Do the human growl if he or she tries to get away. Once the dog relaxes, you know you're making progress but continue to hold him for 15-45 seconds.

Pack leaders also establish their role by showing physical control over the other dogs. In dog training, the owner can become alpha dog through the following exercise. Have the dog lie down with legs pointing away from your body. Use on hand to hold the dog's neck down and, with the other hand, press on the dog's mid-belly. Once the dog relaxes, which may take awhile, talk softly to him or her and offer enthusiastic praise. The goal is for the dog to show his belly while relaxed.

Always treat your dog with respect and love as you establish that you are the boss and the alpha dog. Alpha dogs in the wild establish their dominance without aggression or physical harm to the pack.