Sunday, May 19, 2013

On being "Alpha"

There is a LOT said in the dog world about being "Alpha" with you dog. In other words, you're in charge and your dog knows that you're in charge. 

While I do agree that the person does need to take on the leadership position when bringing a dog into their home, the term "Alpha" bugs me just a bit. It conjures up images of a person that is out to prove to their dog that they're the one in charge. In reality, if you're to the point where you need to prove something, then you've already missed something.

A leader doesn't need to prove they are in charge, the just ARE. So instead of thinking about becoming Alpha to your dog, figure out how you can take charge of the situation. If your dog bolts out of the door, leash them and make them sit before opening the door. If they jump on you, put a drag line on and step on it so they can't (and reward them when they settle down after figuring out they can't jump anymore!)

Maybe I'm lucky, but I've never felt like I've had to prove anything to my dogs. I'm in charge and that is that. I control all the good stuff in life (like food, frisbees and sheep!) and show them how to earn access to said stuff. Jeepers, if that doesn't put me in a place of awe and respect, I highly doubt any physical posturing will. my dogs can be pushy at times but they're dogs and they're just trying things to see what works. If I don't let it work, they won't do it. 

As a dog owner, your goal should be to PLACE yourself in charge, not PROVE that you're in charge. 

And just a hint - proving that you're in charge often relies on physical corrections, while placing yourself in charge is a preemptive plan to set both of you up for success.


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