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WHO’S REALLY THE BOSS?

Course 101 in Becoming the “Alpha”

“In the beginning, our puppy was very affectionate and just licked us, now he is starting to play very rough with us as soon as we walk in the door. Although no one has really been injured, he is grabbing our hands with his mouth so hard it is starting to hurt.”

“When I went into the kitchen, I found that my dog knocked over the trashcan and was eating the garbage. I went over to scold him and he growled at me. I thought he loved me. Why is he now growling at me?”

“Our dog loves us and is sweet most of the time, but any time that we try to make him do something we want him to do, he snaps at us.”

Are these all “bad”dogs? No. What all of the above dogs have in common is that they have all started on their way to be “alpha” dogs. Even though the families love them very much, these dogs are following nature’s guide for becoming leaders of their packs. These dogs have easily learned that with a little assertiveness, they can be the real boss of the family!

Here are a few “dog” body language signs to determine if you have an “alpha” type dog.

1. Your dog jumps up on you or even puts his foot on your leg or on top of your foot, he is clearly telling you he is a higher pack member.

2. If, when you are walking him, your dog puts the leash in his mouth, he is telling you he is a higher pack member.

3. If he is dominant over food or toys, he is telling you that he is a higher pack member.

4. If he forces you to pet him frequently, he is telling you that he is a higher pack member.

All animals have prewritten internal programs, just as migratory birds, dogs or canines?? have prewritten social pack order programs. Similar to the military or corporate business structures with people, all canines must clearly see where they rank in your family pack.

The leader of the pack is known as the "Alpha" or supreme boss. The big cheese of the pack is the first to eat, getting the best of everything when and where they want. The "Alpha" may be a male or female. The  "Alpha" forces their demands on the rest of the pack through force and intimidation.

Many dogs are very comfortable being lower members of your “pack” or family. They always listen to all human members of the pack. Other dogs desire to have more say in the pack and will start not to listen to certain members of your family. The dog generally will not listen to members of the pack who do not display confidence in themselves.

Many times we unintentionally tell our dogs that we want them to take over leadership of the pack from us. We do this by treating the dog as an equal. We sit on the floor with them, we feed them before we eat, and when we take the dog for a walk – we let the dog go where he wants. We think that by doing these things, he or she will realize how good they have it and how much we love them. In reality, it is just the opposite. It is like spoiling the child and the child then treating the parent with disrespect. Ironically, the smaller they are, the more that we tend to spoil and baby the dog. This makes the dog feel like he or she is expected to be the dominate one and that we want them to boss us around through aggression.

Many people admire many of the characteristics of an alpha dog. They are normally smarter than the average dog, they are affectionate when they want something, their air of confidence makes them look very majestic, and 95% of the time they make us very proud. It is the 5% of the time that they suddenly turn into the worst dogs in the world!

In the animal kingdom, the leader of the pack does not have to answer to anyone. When the “alpha” is forced to do something that they do not want to do, they will normally show their dislike for the situation through one or more of the following domino or stepped levels.

1. Intense stare.

2. Tensing of body language.

3. Bristling of hair

4. Growl.

5. Bite.

Just as the rattlesnake shakes the rattle at the end of its tail before it bites, all dogs go through the following five steps before they bite. Dogs never skip one of these steps. They might go through the steps very quickly, but never the less they still go through each step.

In Step 1: the dog must first see what he or she is targeting.

Advancing to Step 2: the dog will wrinkle his or her forehead and all of the muscles of the dog’s body will tense up. During this stage, the dog’s body will be very stiff looking.

Going into Step 3: the dog’s body releases the adrenaline, the hair will start to bristle or stand along the dog’s neck and back area. There are times when the bristling of hair is more noticeable than others. But with each and every case it does occur.

In Step 4: The dog will growl. Although there are times when the growl may not be audible from a distance, if you would hold a stethoscope or microphone to the dog’s chest -- you would clearly hear the growling.

And finally, the bite of Step 5.

It is important to first see and understand the problem before you can start to properly deal with and/or correct the problem. If you feel that you might have a possible problem with your dog, then you most probably do have a problem – but you're trying to convince yourself that everything is still OK. Even if the dog is good with most of the family, everything is not OK. Let’s make it truly OK for everyone in the family by first acknowledging that there is a partial problem and that the entire family wants to work together to correct it.

The dog’s proper place should only be at the bottom of the pack. Otherwise, the dog will most probably bite those family members that the dog feels are equal or lower than the dog, sooner or later!

IT’S TIME FOR YOU TO BECOME THE “ALPHA”

All animals sense that humans are superior. Furthermore, your dog knows that its very existence is dependent on you. It is you that has the most powerful position in the pack. The ace cards are in your hand. You probably never knew the power that you already possess. It is now time that you realize it, understand it, and most importantly--use it!!

Remember that nature’s language is very simple and universal in between species. In nature, each living creature is evaluated as either predator or prey (eat or be eaten). Although this law of nature might be considered to be cruel or wrong by human standards, animals do not have “politically correct” viewpoints. The most powerful and true law in nature is “Might make right.”

An “alpha” leader never stares down a lower pack member unless he or she is challenging the lower pack member to a fight. So if a friend, relative, neighbor, or co-worker of yours tells you that you need to “stare down” your dog to show him who is the boss—you now know not to listen to anything they tell you about dog training from this point on!!

Another very important fact is that if two dogs put their legs around each other’s neck or chest area, they are getting ready to fight! Yes, that’s right! When you hug your dog, you are telling him or her that you want to fight them in their language. Watch a dog when it’s owner hugs them; they look at them as if to say, “You can’t be serious. I know you don’t want to fight me. I think you’re a little bit confused.”

When a pack member licks the inner ear and belly of another pack member, this is what a dog considers as hugging and kissing. This greeting process shows that you are the caregiver and protector of the pack. No, you do not have to lick your dog. Merely place your four fingers together forming what is like a large “cow’s” tongue. Then, in a licking type of motion, use your four fingers (held together side by side) as if you were licking your dog’s inner ear area and belly area. Go back and forth between these two areas. Once you stop, the dog will automatically sniff you. They cannot help themselves. It is an instinctual “knee jerk” reaction. They smell you to imprint your scent particles and subconsciously log you in their mind as a higher pack member and caregiver. Remember dogs do not remember by sight, they remember by scent!

Dogs want and need leaders! They are “social” animals and want to be a member of the pack. Because animal language is very simple (black and white), they like strict and clear rules and regulations. Be consistent with your expectations and rules for your dog and pack. Note: How would you feel if the speed limit on the highway would change from day to day—without notice? Understand this concept and use the same rules, each day, every day!!

Dogs read your body language to see if you really mean what you say. For example, if a waiter told you to please move to a different table, but at the same time he was shaking his head from left to right (saying “no” with his body language) would you move to the new table? The answer is most probably “no”, you would stay seated. Likewise, when you tell your dog to come to you, but subconsciously you feel your dog will not come to you, your body language tells him “not” to come to you even though you are calling him. Do not under estimate the power of your body language. If you truly feel you’re the boss, your body language will clearly show it like a neon light.

Imagine that you are playing an actors or actress's role in a play or movie. Truly believe yourself as performing in the role of a General or leader of the pack. Pretend that you are magical and that your dog has “no choice” and must listen to you. By doing so, your body language will tell your dog that you are not fooling around and he will listen to you. Do not question your own authority, exercise it!! You already have the power—choose to use it!!!

Never give you dog a command without the intent or ability of enforcing. Anticipate that your dog may not follow your command and be immediately prepared to make the dog follow through with your command. By doing so, your dog will immediately sense that you mean what you say, and your dog will surprisingly listen to you!

It is now time for tough love. Imagine if a person was teaching you technical data pertaining to the theory of relativity, but they were speaking to you in Japanese. Would you understand? The answer is no. For you dog to understand, you must communicate in a language that is theirs. Over 99% of your dog’s language is body language. The love of touching, a glance of love that lasts for only half a second and then looks on, shows that you are a strong and confident leader with the dog’s best interest at heart.

Dogs will not follow a questionable leader. Ironically, neither will humans. For all of the goodness and love that you have within you, the greatest love that you can show your dog is that you will not lead them in the wrong direction. You must respect yourself, stand straight, hold your shoulders back, and speak with confidence in order for your dog to respect and follow you. It is not the big battles that you need to win: it is the little daily events!

We are going to start with one of the most basic thought patterns of all dogs, eating. The packs hierarchy is clearly seen by its eating order. The "Alpha" eats first, followed by the second in charge, the third in charge, and so on. It is imperative that your dog sees all of your family members eat their meals first and only after your entire family has finished their desert, and then will the dog's meal be prepared and fed to your dog. Before he eats, make him perform some command like sit or lay down. However, do not give him any command that encourages aggression such as jumping up or barking.

During this transformation pack leadership period, it is very important for all members of the family to pet the dog for only a couple of seconds and then to walk away (without looking back). This also establishes that all of your family members are higher than the dog. Do not let him force you to pet him. Only the leader or alpha of the pack is allowed to do this. Pet him for only 3 seconds and then walk away. Animal language is very simple and clear. That is why this simple exercise works so well.

Wrestling with your dog and playing “tug of war” games tells him that you want him to be a warrior. He feels that you are teaching him this because you want him to be more aggressive and dominant with people, and that you want him to take over leadership of the pack from you – through aggression. In the wild, he would need to develop these skills to defend him and the pack, to kill his food, and to fight for “alpha” dog position for breeding rights. But in our social pack or family environment, he does not have to kill his food—we give it to him. We do not want him running out and biting people—lawsuits! And most of all, we do not want him biting any member of the family to take over leadership of the pack. So immediately stop all “tug of war” and wrestling games, unless you want to live with the terrible consequences.

How about fetch? Throwing the ball or Frisbee hones in your dog’s hunting and killing skills. In the wild he would have to catch and kill the rabbit (fetch) or grab the bird in mid-air (Frisbee) to supply food for his or herself and pack. These games are fine for non-alpha dogs. But if your dog is having an aggression or dominate problem, hold off on these games until you have full control of your dog.

Where should your dog sleep? The leader of the pack chooses where he or she sleeps and also designates where the rest of the pack is to sleep as well. If you let your dog choose where he or she wants to sleep, you are telling them that they are the leader not you! More importantly, if you let your dog sleep with you, you are setting yourself up for a major aggression problem in over 70% of the cases. So if your dog is currently showing aggression and he or she sleeps with you (or you lay or sit on the floor with the dog), it is now time to stop going down to your dog's level.

In the wild, your dog would sleep in a den. This would be a small area that was dug out under the roots of a tree or under an overhanging rock. It is not spacious. It is barely big enough for the dog to turn around in. Enclosed small areas (like dens) give the dog great security. They like them. Large spacious areas tend to make the dog feel insecure allowing high exposure to attack from predators.

Love, safety, and security are the desires that owners have for their dogs overall health and well-being. It is also what we desire for members of our families. By achieving and maintaining the “alpha” role, you and your family can truly have the best of both worlds: love and respect.

 

 

 

 

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