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Thread: Keeping Alpha Position

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Brisbane Queensland Australia

    Default Keeping Alpha Position

    Hi every one

    Thought some might like this as a guide. We have been using it for our dogs. As Diesel is a wolf hybrid we need to keep our Alpha status!

    Let me know if the attachment doesn't work.

    Establishing and Keeping Alpha Position
    Letting your dog know you are the boss
    (Top Dog)

    Below are a list of rules every dog owner should follow to ensure your dog knows his place in your human pack. If your dog guards his food, or growls at humans in the family, and especially if you own a wolf hybrid, these rules should be strictly followed. Dogs need to have a clear place in their pack. A dog lacking in this clear order is an unhappy dog.

    Sometimes, a dog might not be showing signs of aggression, however the dog is suddenly showing signs of separation anxiety, such as destructive behaviors when you leave the house. A dog who steals food from human hands has no respect for the human, and therefore do not see them as pack leader. A dog who questions his place in the household pack can sometimes cause him to suddenly display destructive behaviors, as the dog is confused and taking his anxiety out on your house.

    A dog who knows his place in his human pack is a happy dog. A dog who does not is a confused dog and can exhibit many unwanted behaviors because of it.

    1. The number one way to communicate to a dog that you are his pack leader is to take him for a walk. Not the type of walk most humans take their dogs on but a pack walk where the dog is made to heel beside or behind the human who is holding the lead. This is most important for all dogs, as in a dog's mind, the leader always leads the way. A dog must not be allowed to sniff or eliminate anywhere he wishes, but where you allow him. One marking against a tree is enough for male dogs. The dog should be concentrating on following the human, not worried about leading the way. This pack type walk should be done daily. Not only will this release built up energy, but it will satisfy the dog's instinct to migrate, which all dogs possess. Dog's who have excess energy bottled up inside them and who do not have their migration instinct met will develop various instability issues that most people mistake for being breed traits.

    2. All humans must eat Before the dogs, as the leader always eats first. When you give your dog its food eat a small snack first while he is watching, lay the snack near the dogs food so that he thinks you are eating out of his bowl (the leader always eats first).

    3. No table scraps should be fed to the dogs during a meal.

    4. Feedings must be at a scheduled time. (no self feeding dog food dispensers should be used, as this allows The Dog to Choose when he eats.)

    5. Humans must not let the dog go through any doorways first. Or up or down the stairs first. Dogs must always go through the doorways or up and down stairs After the humans, as the leader of the pack always goes first. If the dog does not stay behind the humans, the dog must be told to "stay" and given the command to "come" after all humans have passed through. (Read Training to find out the necessary basic commands all dogs should know. These commands are vital in the communication between you and your dog and should always be taught.)

    6. When you have left the house or the room, even for a minute and come back in the room, ignore the dog for a few minutes.

    7. A simple obedience command such as “Sit” should be given before any pleasurable interaction with the dog. (i.e. play session, petting, feeding or a walk etc…) The children should give the dogs commands at least once a day and reward with a treat when the command is followed. A simple “Sit” will do. No treat should be awarded if the dog does not follow the command. Show your dog he does not get anything for free. His food, water, treats, even praise/love have to be earned by doing something. Even something as little as sit, come, or making him wait for the treat while you hold it in front of him. Make sure the dog takes the treat from your hands gently. Do not tolerate a mouthy dog.

    8. You should not lay on the floor to watch TV when the dog is around and no one should roll around the floor playing with the dogs, as a human should never put himself in an equal or lesser height position than the dog.

    9. You are the one who greets newcomers first, the dog is the last who gets attention (the pack leader is the one who greets newcomers and lets the rest know when it is safe to greet the newcomer)

    10. If a dog is laying in your path, do not walk around the dog, either make the dog move or step over the dog.

    11. During the time you are establishing your higher pack position, no hugs should be given to the dog by you, as a dominant dog may consider this a challenge of power.

    12. If you establish eye contact with the dog, the dog must avert his gaze first. If the human averts first this reinforces the dogs higher power position. Tell the children Not to have staring contest with the dog, as if they avert or blink first, it will only reinforce, in the dogs mind, that He is Top Dog.

    13. Ideally dogs should not sleep in your bed. In the dog world the most comfortable place to sleep is reserved for the higher members of the pack. If a dog is allowed to sleep on the bed, the dog must be invited up and not be allowed to push the humans out of their way. Making them sleep at the foot of the bed rather then for example on your pillow is best.

    14. Dogs must never be allowed to mouth or bite anyone at any time, including in play.

    15. Any attention given to the dog, including petting should be given when the Human decides attention is to be given (absolutely No Petting when the dog nudges or paws you or your hand. This would be letting the dog decide and reinforcing, in his mind, that he is higher on the scale than the human.)

    16. Games of fetch or play with toys must be Started and Ended by the Human.

    17. Very dominate dogs who have a problem with growling should not be allowed to lie on your furniture, as the leader of the pack always gets the most comfortable spot. Dogs belong on the floor. If you do decide to allow your dog on the furniture, you must be the one who decides when he is allowed up and you must be the one who decides when he is to get off, by inviting him and telling him to get down.

    18. No tug-of-war , as this is a game of power and you may lose the game giving the dog a reinforcement (in the dog's mind) of top dog.

    19. Dogs need to be taught a “Drop it” or release command. Any objects the dog has in his possession should be able to be taken away by all humans.

    20. Dogs own no possessions, everything belongs to the humans. They are all on "loan" from the human family. You should be able to handle or remove any item at all times from the dog with no problems from the dog. Even if you are taking a chicken bone out of the dog's mouth.

    21. Dogs should not be allowed to pull on the leash. When they do this they are leading the way and it is the humans that need to lead the way and show they're higher up in the pack order. (In the wild, the leader of the pack always leads the way; the leader leads the hunt.)

    22. When you put his food dish down, he must wait until you give the "OK" to eat it. Place his food on the ground and tell him to wait. If he darts at the food, block him with your body. You can point at him and tell him, "No, Wait" however do not speak much. Dogs are, for the most part, silent communicators. They feel one another's energy and your dog can feel yours. Yes, your dog can read your emotions. So stand tall and think "Big" and stay confident. do not be nervous, your dog will sense this and assume you as weak. It is this weakness that triggers a dog to try and take over (for the good of the pack, the pack needs a strong leader). Give the dog a command before giving them their food. If a dog does not follow the command (i.e. to sit), he does not eat. Try again in about 20 minutes or longer. Repeat this until the dog listens to the command. When your dog calms down and waits patiently, (ears set back, head lowered even slightly, laying down is good if he is relaxed with his ears back, No signs of growling on his face) invite him to eat his food. The people in the family the dog growls at should feed the dog the majority of the time.

    23. Small dogs or puppies who demand to be picked up or put down should Not get what they want until they sit or do another acceptable quiet behavior. They should not be put down unless they are settled quietly in your arms.

    24. Dogs should Never be left unsupervised with children or Anyone who cannot maintain leadership over the dog.

    25. To reinforce your position even more, you can make your dog lie down and stay there for 20 to 30 minutes a day. Tell him to lie down, then tell him to stay. If he tries to get up, correct him.

    26. Last but certainly not least... when you are around your dog avoid emotions such as fear, anxiety, harshness or nervousness. Your dog can sense these emotions and will see you as weak. This will escalate your problem as your dog feels an even stronger need to be your leader. Think Big and Powerful and be calm, assertive, and consistent. Remember, there is no hiding our emotions from our dogs. They can in a sense, read our minds, in reading our emotions. This energy is the universal language of animals. Talk less, using more body language. Picture yourself, in your own mind as big, powerful and very sure of yourself. Pull your shoulders back and stand up straight. Your dog will feel this. This is your number one resource when it comes to communicating with your dog. Your dog will be happy and secure knowing he has a strong pack leader to care for him.

    By incorporating all these behaviors in his normal day your dog will realize that you the human are alpha over him and he is beneath you. Obedience exercises and classes are great and very useful, however, obedience training alone does not address pack behavior problems.
    Last edited by Huskymum; 11-03-2009 at 03:36 PM. Reason: Had dramas uploading info
    1 Siberian Husky Diesel
    1 Belgian Malinois Gypsy
    1 Kitty Porsche

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Devonport, Tasmania


    Um, where's the attachment please?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2009
    SE QLD


    Mmmm, I can't find it either.
    The more people I meet, the more I like my dogs.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Brisbane Queensland Australia


    I had dramas trying to upload the PDF so I've cut and pasted it for you. Don't know if your interested but i found the below link useful in reading dogs body language.
    1 Siberian Husky Diesel
    1 Belgian Malinois Gypsy
    1 Kitty Porsche

  5. #5


    I didn't think the Husky was a wolf hybrid ?
    GageDesign Pet Photography
    Site still in construction so will post link when it's finished.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2009


    It isn't if it's a siberian husky - if it's an Alaskan husky it's basically a x breed

  7. #7


    aaaah thanks Occy
    GageDesign Pet Photography
    Site still in construction so will post link when it's finished.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    planet Earth


    Oh, what a bunch of c**p written here, unless you're on some kind of a power trip. Before you just copy-paste something without actually understanding how firstly wolves live, function and communicate, then secondly, dogs live, function and communicate you might actually read some valuable books/articles that study both and deny most of above copy-pasted here.

    Most people are familiar with the idea that dogs are descended from pack animals. Most are also familiar with the concept that they need to establish themselves as “alpha” in the pack. How to accomplish that position, however, usually remains something of a mystery due to the large amount of information and misinformation.


    Traditional notions of alpha and how to establish that position are largely misinformed. That does not mean, however, that the idea of relative hierarchies within a pack is a myth.

    Sometimes people get so reliant upon the word “pack” that they don’t really think about what a “pack” is. A pack is simply a social structure within which an animal lives. Humans are also social animals who live within various social structures, or “packs”. We have familial social structures, employment social structures and so on. It may be easier to understand how to establish yourself as the leader if you let go of the idea that a “pack” is fundamentally different than any other social structure.

    The first problem with traditional notions of “alpha” is that we largely misunderstood the specific social structure relevant to our domestic dogs. As behaviorists studied wolves and the role of leadership in a canine-canine pack, behaviorists and trainers recommended we should try to imitate the relationships between wolves and establish ourselves as "alpha". Unfortunately, this analysis disregarded the fact that dogs are not wolves. Breeding and domestication have made dogs into animals that remain significantly more juvenile than the adult wolf. Because we left this critical distinction out of our analysis, we took the wrong model as the relationship we should strive for with our domestic dogs. We viewed the relationships between adult wolves and sought to structure our human-canine pack on what we perceived (and misperceived) as that relationship.

    However, domestic dogs are more like wolf pups than adult wolves. A number of animal behaviorists have recently suggested that the relationship we should be looking to emulate is that of an adult wolf to a young wolf pup. There are behaviors in the pup which the adult wolf will and must correct, for the good of the pup and the pack as a whole. There are other behaviors which are "trivial infractions" which the adult will not waste energy correcting. Adult wolves don't waste time negotiating with the pup. If there is something the pup must do, it simply must, and the adult will ensure it does. It is not an emotion laden decision process, it just is.

    Also, using these models, trainers and behaviorists recommended that humans try to emulate the physicality of one dog’s corrections to another dog in order to establish ourselves as “alpha” (Remember the Alpha Roll?). Again, these models were flawed.

    First, we are not dogs. We are much slower than they are and our physical make up is completely different. That sounds obvious. But, a few years ago, a man in San Francisco was prosecuted for animal abuse for biting his dog on the neck. His defense was that he was simply training and disciplining the dog by "mimicking primal dog behavior of male dominance." (I’m not making this up. Read the story). We are simply not physically equipped to imitate dogs’ specific physical interactions.

    Second, not only are we physically ill-equipped to imitate dogs’ physical interactions, we are generally not psychologically equipped. When an adult dog "corrects" a pup, it is a quick, decisive, emotionless process. The behavior stops, and the correction is over. In addition, the adult dog rarely "over corrects" or “under corrects.” That is, the correction is no more or less than it needs to be to get the pup to learn. By contrast, we tend to get bogged down in our emotions. We make corrections when we are angry, frustrated, scared, etc. Our corrections are imprecise, frequently inappropriate to the offense, and our timing is poor. We tend to stay in that emotional mess even after the event is over. As a result of our emotions, over and under correction, and physical slowness, we are significantly less effective in communicating the specific behavior which was inappropriate; we confuse the dog and reduce, rather than elevate, the dog's confidence in our abilities and trust in our judgment.

    Finally, we have largely misperceived the specific interactions between dogs and then tried to adapt what we perceived as their physical behaviors to our un-doggy physiques, with our slow timing. For example, we saw "alpha rolls" as an act of dominance by one dog. In fact, further study and examination has made it clear that an "alpha roll" would be more appropriately titled a "beta" or "omega" roll as it is an act of submission by the subordinate dog, an acknowledgement to the other dog that they are not a threat and will not challenge the other's position. Canine communication can be so subtle, and their sensory perception is so vastly different than ours that our efforts to imitate their specific physical interactions are largely doomed to fail.


    Before I get to the meat of this, there is some terminology I want to clarify. Because of the flaws in the traditional alpha paradigm, I use the word leader rather than alpha. Alpha connotes dominance, not necessarily leadership, and is primarily associated with traditional compulsive dog training methods, using force, violence and aggression. Leadership is something entirely different. It is establishing yourself as someone your dog willingly defers to, looks to for guidance, trusts and follows. Leadership does not take force, violence or aggression. In fact, those methods are antithetical to good leadership as they violate trust and undermine relationships. When I speak of relationships, I am not talking about whether you and your dog love each other or have a strong bond. I am talking about the human-canine social structure, how the human and the dog view each other in relation to the other.

    True leaders are quiet, confident, benevolent, fair and consistent. They rarely have to establish their position, their entire attitude communicates leadership and everyone knows it. Dogs and humans who waste time continually blustering to establish their position within the pack, who are not fair and consistent, who waste energy correcting trivial infractions, who can't effectively get a pack to follow their direction are dogs and humans who will not be successful. It is unlikely they will pass their genes on, and that is, afterall the biological imperative of most animals.


    Being perceived by your dog as the leader largely depends on you and your dog, each of your natural personalities, physiology, and how you live your life. Some dogs are naturally subordinate, and some people are natural leaders. When these personality types are paired, there really isn’t much that the person has to do to establish themselves as the leader, they do it naturally and the dog responds accordingly. However, some people are followers, with softer personalities and some dogs are dominant or social climbers...that is, they want to be in charge. When these personality types are paired, the results can be very difficult for both the owner and the dog. Because there are such differences in the dynamics of each human-canine pack, there cannot be any one formula for becoming the leader of the pack. There are, however, some steps you can take to ensure that your dog views you the leader.


    If you do nothing else, remember this phrase and implement it in your life with your dog. Spend a few days really paying attention to every interaction you have with your dogs. Who initiates and who reacts, and then remember....Leaders Initiate - Followers React [1].

    For example, your dog brings a ball and places it in your lap, and you throw the ball. The dog initiated (led) and you reacted (followed). Another example: your dog nudges or paws at your hand, and you absent-mindedly pet her. Again, your dog initiated you reacted. These are just two of the more obvious interactions, but there are many more that happen every time you interact with your dog.

    If your dog is initiating most of your interactions and you are reacting, it is likely your dog perceives itself as the leader of your human-canine pack and you as a follower. If that is your situation, you need to flip the initiation/reaction scenario around. This is one of the principles underlying the “Nothing in Life is Free” program. For example, in the ball scenario, ignore the dog and the ball completely. When the dog goes away, you may choose to pick up a ball and start a game of fetch. It is important in this example that you wait until the dog goes away and gives up trying to get you to react. It is not enough if you pick up the ball and simply make your dog sit before you throw it, because the dog still initiated the interaction. In the nudging/pawing scenario, you have two choices. If you can anticipate that the nudge is coming (and you feel like petting your dog), give a command first (sit, down, whatever), then pet your dog. Here, it is important that the command comes before the dog has nudged or pawed you. Once the dog has nudged or pawed you, it is too late for you to initiate the interaction. If the dog has nudged or pawed you, ignore the dog and walk away. As with the ball scenario, you have to wait until the dog is not asking for attention before you give the attention. Once the dog is not seeking attention from you, again, give a command and then reward your dog with petting. If your dog ignores the command, ignore the dog. If the dog continues to pester you, walk away. If you choose to, once you’re away from the dog, turn quickly and call the dog to you. As soon as your dog comes, reward them with some of that attention they were working so hard to get.


    This exercise is one of the most difficult exercises there is for most dog owners to do. It is also one of the most important. This exercise is an excellent calming exercise for dogs, making periods of separation less stressful. It also has the added advantage of continuing to communicate your leadership, because you are the one initiating the greeting.

    In principle, the Serene Homecoming [1] is easy. When you first come home, you ignore your dog. This means, completely ignore, no talking, no touching, no looking at....nothing, nada, zippo. This is much harder than it may sound, as that “Oh my god, I am so happy to see you, you have been gone forever, now my life is complete,” butt-wiggling, smiling face greeting that we get from dogs can be quite addictive. Once the dog(s) has settled down, (preferably laid down) go over and give them a calm greeting. If the dog gets excited again, walk away and start over until the dog settles down. Keep repeating until the dog figures out that you won't greet him/her until he is calm.

    For a lot of people, this exercise feels disloyal and unloving. It is precisely the opposite. We think of these over-exuberant greetings as an expression of love from our dogs; thus, not responding to that expression seems heartless. In fact, these over-exuberant greetings are an expression of stress; after all, even excitement is stress. If you think of the greeting as a manifestation of stress and not love, and realize that the serene homecoming will help reduce that stress, it becomes clear the serene homecoming is a better expression of your love for your dog than your own over-exuberant greeting.


    The two exercises above require consistency and commitment. You cannot half-heartedly employ them and expect to make any changes in your relationship with your dog. These exercises are not about forcing your dog to obey you or turning your dog into a robot. They are about building your dog’s confidence by providing him with a leader he trusts. They are also about reducing your dog’s stress. Think about how stressful your life would be if you lived in a world where you did not understand the language, did not understand how things (like doors and cars) worked and yet were responsible for protecting and taking care of everyone and every thing in your house. That is essentially the burden we place on our dogs when we refuse to become the leaders. To say the very least, it is unfair. At worst, it can result in serious illness or behavior problems, such as aggression.

    Just as we would not permit a 3 year old child to fend off threats to our home, or leave that 3 year old in charge of the house, an adult wolf would not permit a pup to try to "protect the pack." It is unlikely the pup would even think to make such an effort, it would be foolhardy, a large waste of energy and would likely result in serious injury. Protecting the pack is the adult's job, and if the adult doesn't do it the pack is unlikely to survive. The pup knows it needs to look to the leader of the pack for guidance, and trusts that guidance will come.

    Similarly, it is our job in our human-canine pack to protect the pack, including our dogs, and to determine what constitutes a threat. In order to accomplish this, the dog needs to understand you are the leader and trust you as the leader. When we fail to give our dogs guidance, to establish that quiet, benevolent, confident, fair and consistent leadership with our dogs, we do them a great disservice.
    Last edited by Fedra; 11-03-2009 at 06:22 PM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2009


    I agree with most of what Fedra posted. I agree with very little of the alpha dog stuff.

    Have you ever noticed how much of a ******** any bloke (or woman for that matter) is when they try to dominate a group?

    A wolf pack is not a tyranny. What the alpha dog thing that Huskymum posted - is a tyranny. Anyone who has seen wolves on documentaries or read Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat, knows that what the blue text says is largely junk.

    You can play with your dog if it initiates - if it's convenient for you...

    It's good if your dog feels comfortable initiating interactions with you - especially if you don't have a doggy door or you're occasionally forgetful about when dinner time is. And don't you feel great - that your puppy dog wants to be with you and play with you? It's not about dominance or trying to be dominant, it's about affection - and isn't that what most of us want from our dogs? Not some little frightened cowering wimp. Mine does all the grovelly I want to be your friend stuff without being the least bit frightened most of the time. If a dog truly does scare her - she keeps well away from it.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Sunshine Coast, Qld


    I' sorry Fedra but you say that what HuskyMum posted was "cr*p", then proceeded to post something that, basically, said some very similar points in a slightly more detailed way.

    The whole paragraph LEADERS INITIATE. FOLLOWERS REACT. was covered in points 15 & 16 of OP.

    The Paragraph SERENE HOMECOMING is covered in point 6 (although in much better detail I will admit.)

    Point 7 appears to be similar to NILIF, which is also quoted in your article.

    Overall I think Huskymum's post had mostly sensible ideas, some may be a bit over the top but, on the whole I would imagine most of us on here were doing alot of the points anyway. Most seemed like common sense to me. Certainly not tyrannical.
    The best things in life, aren't things

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