How to become Top Dog - A Dog Owner's Guide to Sanity
Peeing on the carpet, knocking you down, or stealing dinner off the counter are all signs that your dog doesn't respect your rules. In other words, you are not the Alpha Dog.
If you ever want to have a peaceful and happy relationship with your dog, you need to learn how to become top dog.
It's not just a silly phrase. Dogs have a heirarchial ranking system. In simple reality, the only two ranks you need to know of are top dog , and not top dog.... The Ruler, and the Rule Follower. Naturally you don't want to be caught in the trap of being subject to your dog.
You want your dog to respect you and obey you. Don't confuse the two. A dog may obey you out of fear, but not respect you. That is a dangerous situation to be in. Have you ever seen the movie Iron Will? If not, watch it. It gives some great insight.
There's a dog sled driver who beats his dogs into submission and treats them terribly. They respond to his beatings and he has a winning team, but at the first sign of weakness, they turn on him and... well it wasn't pretty.
Of course that's a dramatization and worse case scenario. Frankly, I think anyone who beats dogs has it coming. It's just not necessary to rule with an iron fist.
Most dogs are receptive to attitudes that are as basic and primal as fighting, but are much less violent.
For example, simply giving commands and being consistent goes a long way. If your dog is always made aware of what is and what is not acceptable, you will have a greater chance of success.
When your dog disobeys, scold him and send him to his quarters- whether it be a dog bed, a kennel, going outside or just a specific place in the house.
Don't allow him to beg for food. Doing this gives him the impression that it's okay to whine to get what he wants.
If and when a dog should bite you, and you have had this dog and don't believe him to be wild or sick, then you have to take action to ensure he knows that it will not be accepted. (If there is any indication of disorientation of your dog at this time, call a vet. Dogs can bite if they are sick, hurt or scared. You should seek professional advice.)
Appropriate action would not be to scold or hit the dog but rather to grab his head firmly, not in anger or rage but in calm control, and bite him on the ear. Don't try to break the skin or really hurt the dog. You are just making a point here that you are the leader and he needs to respect you.
It is also highly recommended that you train your dog to walk with you on a leash, at your heel level. This puts the dog in an active submissive role on a regular basis and helps you to enforce that you are the boss.
I would suggest getting a book or training video to get more details on the topic, or research dog forums for advice from other owners who prefer to train themselves and not send their dogs to obedience school.
Remember that if you want to be the top dog, you have to take control. Leadership is essential in a dog's life. You are the one who gets to choose who that leader is.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tina Spriggs is an expert dog lover whose lifelong interest in canines provides the motivation for her site. To learn more about dogs or to find gifts and toys for them visit her site at Dog Gifts and Toys for Dog Lovers.
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