Leader of the Pack – The Alpha Dog
All packs have an Alpha dog or the leader of the pack. The leader has a very specific job within the pack and as such, also earns certain rights and privileges. The Alpha dog is the leader and decision maker of the pack. All dogs in the pack obey and follow the Alpha. The Alpha is always calm, confident, secure and does not get upset. The Alpha is consistent and is the stabilizing factor within the pack, closely watching over the other dogs and regulating their behavior.
The Alpha dog is always the first one to eat and leads the way. The Alpha tells the pack what it can or can’t do, where it can or can’t go, when to eat, when to sleep, what to worry about. Essentially, the Alpha guides the pack’s behavior. The rest of the pack is submissive to the Alpha. You and any other members of your family need to be the Alpha dog in your dog’s pack.
Attributes of the Alpha Dog
Has the highest status and does everything first.
Eats first, what he wants and how much he wants.
Leads the way and guides the rest of the pack.
Owns everything that belongs to the pack.
Has complete control over the pack.
Will discipline the pack in order to keep them in line.
Oversees and is responsible for the well being of the pack.
The Alpha Dog Has Great Responsibility
As you can see, being the Alpha has some perks, but it also carries an enormous amount of responsibility. Keeping your dog from thinking he needs to be the Alpha will go a long way to keeping peace and harmony in your home. Your dog does not want to be the Alpha, it’s a hard job. But if he feels there is a weakness in leadership, in your leadership, his natural instinct will be to take over. With some dogs, if they think that leadership is lacking in their pack, they will step up to fulfill the role. When dogs are confused about their place in the pack, that is when you will have behavioral issues.
A quick note: The use of the term “Alpha Dog” can give off an impression of dominance and aggression. Think of it instead as leadership. You are your puppy’s coach in life and you are here to guide him in the right direction. Teach him the things he needs to know. Reward positive behaviors. Do it all calmly, confidently and consistently. You want your puppy to respect you, not fear you. Fear does not train dogs reliably, leadership does.
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