Fighting For Alpha Status

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    Image from Tigertail Foods

    You know you have an alpha dog when you see its tail raise with the tip pointed towards the back. This is typical behavior among canine packs, and it is the alpha leader's way of letting everyone know his dominant stance within the pack. When you adopt a puppy, it immediately views you and the family as a pack, and will likely assert its dominance within the family. This is something I went through when we adopted my dog. He has had his tail raised since he was a puppy, and we tried our best to train him to lose his alpha male status. In fact, my family playfully called my dog pack leader.

    A dog with an alpha male complex can create behavior problems, and it can be especially problematic if you're trying to train a rabbit dog. As a hunting dog, you HAVE to be the alpha male, and the dog needs to look up to you for instruction and guidance.

    When it came to my dog, we resorted to everything from self-training to professional training, and experts have told us that it is very hard to knock your alpha dog off the head honcho mantle. Even though my dog exhibits alpha tendencies, he still knows when to follow orders, and he does display submissive behavior. You can instill some discipline in your dog with some simple training tactics, and you don't have to waste money on a professional trainer.

    Holding Your Pup Down

    If you have a puppy, position him or her on its back and hold them in place until they fall asleep. Why do this? A submissive dog will typically show its belly to an alpha male as a sign of submission. Many people think a dog that playfully lays on its side or back simply wants an owner to rub its belly, but it is actually a sign of submission, showing you the most vulnerable part of their body. Holding a pup down and forcing you to expose their bellies will change their way of thinking, and will begin to transition them to a submissive state. You'll get a fair amount of resistance, and I have had my share of bites and cuts from my dog resisting, but it is one tactic to keep in mind.

    Tug of War

    If you notice that your dog is rather intense (growling) when it comes to a particular toy, this is another sign of alpha male behavior. For instance, my dog will come to me with a tennis ball (his favorite toy), and he wants to play tug of war. That's when I know he's slipping into alpha status, since tug of war is another way of asserting alpha status. If you lose the tug of war, the dog has asserted his place as the leader, which is why I usually hold the ball firmly, until he releases the ball and waits for me to throw it. Holding onto the ball and not playing tug of war sends a signal that you're in control, and that the dog has to wait until you're to throw the ball again.

    Behavior Correction

    An alpha dog may get pushy if you have food around, or may try to lie on your bed or sofa. This is a sign that your dog is the owner of your furniture.

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    It may seem cute at first, but you'll have to be firm by not allowing them on the furniture. Be firm and assertive if dogs try to get too close to your food. Have your dog do exercises like sitting before eating or exiting the room. Reward them if they respond, and never punish them if they don't comply. If they do something out of line, point a finger at them and say "No." Don't shout it, but say it firmly. It is important to flare up and let the dog know that his behavior is unacceptable.

    Now you're set to begin training a hunting dog once it is broken into submissive status. If your dog exhibits this type of behavior, don't give up yet. It will take some time breaking the dog in, but I can attest firsthand that dogs can be disciplined.

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