Canine Boot Camp For Alpha Attitude Adjustment

From this day forward, you're going to teach your dog that he is a dog, not a miniature human
being in a furry suit.  His mother taught him to be a dog once and how to take orders.  Along
the way, through lack of training or misunderstood intentions, he's forgotten.  With your help,
he's going to remember what he is and how he fits into the world.  Before long - he's even
going to like it!

Dogs were bred to look to human's for food, companionship and guidance.  An Alpha Dog
doesn't ask for what he wants, he demands it!  He lets you know in no uncertain terms that he
wants his dinner, that he wants to go out, that he wants to play and be petted and that he wants
these things right now.  You're going to teach him that from now on, he has to earn what he
gets.  No more free rides!  This is going to be a shock to his system at first but you'll be
surprised how quickly he'll catch on and that he'll actually become eager to please you.

If your dog doesn't already know the simple command SIT, teach it to him.  Reward him with
praise and a tidbit.  Don't go overboard with the praise.  A simple "Good Boy!" in a happy
voice is enough.  Now, every time your dog wants something - his dinner, a trip outside, a
walk, some attention, anything - tell him (remember don't ask him, TELL HIM) to SIT first.  
When he does, praise him with a "Good Boy!", then tell him OKAY and give him whatever it is
he wants as a reward.  If he refuses to SIT, walk away and ignore him.  NO SIT, NO
REWARD.  If you don't think he understands the command, work on his training some more.  If
he just doesn't want to obey, ignore him - DON'T give him what he wants or reward him in any

Make him sit before giving him his dinner, make him sit at the door before going outside,
make him sit in front of you to be petted, make him sit before giving him his toy.  If you normally
leave food out for him all the time, stop.  Go to a twice daily feeding and you decide what time
of day he'll be fed.  Make him sit for his dinner.  If he won't obey the command - no dinner.  
Walk away and ignore him.  Bring the food out later and tell him again to SIT.  If he
understands the command, don't tell him more than once.  He heard you the first time.  Give
commands from a standing position and use a deep, firm tone of voice.

If the dog respects certain members of the family but not others, let the others be the ones to
feed him and bring the good things to his life for now.  Show them how to make him obey the
SIT command and how to walk away and ignore him if he won't do as he's told.  It's important
that your whole family follows this program.  Dogs are like kids - if they can't have their way
with Mom, they'll go ask Dad.  In your dog's case, if he finds a member of the family that he can
dominate, he'll continue to do so.  You want your dog to learn that he has to respect and obey
everyone.  REMEMBER:  his place is at the bottom of the totem pole.  Bouncing him from the
top spot helps but if he thinks he's anywhere in the middle, you're still going to have problems!

THINK - you know your dog and know what he's likely to do under most circumstances.  Stay a
step ahead of him and anticipate his behavior so you can avoid or correct it.  If he gets into the
trash and growls when scolded, make the trash can inaccessible.  If he likes to bolt out the
door ahead of you, put a leash on him.  Make him sit and wait while you open the door and
give him permission - OKAY! - to go out.  If your Alpha Dog doesn't like to come when he's
called (and he probably doesn't) don't let him outside off the leash.  Without a leash, you have
no control over him and he knows it!

Petting & Attention

Alpha Dogs are used to being fussed over.  In a real dog pack, subordinate dogs are forever
touching, licking and grooming the Alpha Dog.  It's a show of respect and submission.  For
now, until his attitude has shown improvement, cut down on the amount of cuddling your dog
gets.  When he wants attention, make him SIT first, give him a few kind words and pats, then
stop.  Go back to whatever it was you were doing and ignore him.  If he pesters you, tell him
NO! - in a firm voice and ignore him some more.  Pet him when you want to, not just because
he wants you to.  Also, for the time being, don't get down on the floor or on your knees to pet
your dog.  That too, is a show of submission.  Give praise, petting and rewards from a position
that's higher than the dog.


If you or anyone in your family wrestles, rough-houses or plays tug of war with your dog -
STOP!  These games encourage dogs to dominate people physically and to use their teeth.  
In a dog pack or in a litter these games are more than just playing - they help establish pack
order based on physical strength.  Your dog is already probably stronger and quicker than you
are.  Rough, physical games prove that to him.  He doesn't need to be reminded of it!

Find new games for him to play.  Hide & Seek, fetch or frisbee catching are more
appropriate.  Make sure you're the one who starts and ends the game - NOT THE DOG!  Stop
playing before the dog gets bored and is inclined to try to keep the ball or frisbee.

Where Does Your Dog Sleep?

Your bedroom is a special place - it's your "den".  An Alpha Dog thinks he has a right to sleep
in your den because he considers himself your equal.  In fact, he may have already asks him to
make room for the humans.  Until your dog's Alpha problems are fully under control, the
bedroom should be off-limits!  The same goes for sleeping on furniture.  If you can't keep him
off the couch without a fight, deny him access to the room until his behavior and training has


Dog crates have 1,000 uses and working with an Alpha Dog is one of them.  It's a great place
for your dog to sleep at night, to eat in and just to stay in when he needs to chill out and be
reminded that he's a dog.  The crate is your dog's "den".  Start crate training by feeding him
his dinner in his crate.  Close the door and let him stay there for an hour afterwards.  If he
throws a tantrum, ignore him.  Don't let your dog out of his crate until he's quite and settled.  At
bedtime, show him an irresistible goodie, tell him to SIT and when he does, throw the goodie
into the crate.  When he dives in for the treat, tell him what a "Good Boy!" and close the door.

* This article was written by Vicki Rodenberg De Gruy