Top Dog

Being Top-Dog
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 hierarchal ranking system. In simple
reality, the only two ranks you need to know 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 and obey you, not
to fear 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 their dogs has it coming.
It's just not necessary to rule with an iron fist.
When your dog disobeys, scold him. Raising your
voice above normal with a stern NO usually
breaks his concentration, and it lets him know
quickly to stop the action. After all, his mom
growls at him to stop unwanted behavior, but she
will go right back to normal with the pup as soon
as the action is stopped. Instantly back to the
loving mom role--this lets the pup know that it’s
the action--not him. You must do the samething,
sometimes it’s hard not to get mad, but you must
return to the loving role as soon as he stops. This
can be hard, especially if he just chewed a hole in
the couch. Remember to never use his name with
the word no--his name needs to only be associated
with pleasant stimulus.
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. It's not. This is very easy--never
start doing it in the first place.
If and when a dog should bite you, and you 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.)
If bitten, appropriate action would be to grab his
head firmly, not in anger or rage but in calm
control. You are just making a point here that
you are the leader and you can control his actions.
Don’t release until you see submissive behavior.
He needs to respect you, just as he would his
mother. If you’ve ever seen two dogs have a
scuffle, the dominant dog will control the other
one’s motions, and the submissive dog will lay
down, show his belly and begin licking the
dominant dog’s chin. You must be able to
completely control your dog’s behavior at this
point to teach the lesson, but this could be
dangerous if you aren’t physically able to handle
the dog. YOU HAVE TO BECOME THE
ALPHA DOG---if you don’t then your pup could
run over you and develop some really nasty
behaviors. If your dog has progressed to this
level, then something got skipped over during
puppy training. You could need professional help
at this point if you are afraid to take control.
Biting is best stopped at an early age. I personally
don’t like a puppy putting his teeth on me, even
when he’s playing, and when he does, I will take
his lower jaw in my hand and insert my thumb
under his tongue and apply pressure. Each pup is
different--some will require more pressure than
others. (In the dog world, he learns most of his
rules while playing with littermates and other
dogs as to what is acceptable and what is not, so
it is an excellent time to start)
This is very effective and will reduce mouthing to
licking in a matter of days, if not minutes, and
remember licking is submissive. It’s never to early
to start. I usually don’t even speak when doing
this and as soon as I release, I start petting the
pup again. Here is another tip that I use a lot:
when a mother dog licks her puppies, she does so
very firmly. When you pet your puppy, put
enough pressure on your hand so that his eyes
will squint a little bit as your hand moves across
his head. This also asserts your dominance in a
very nice gesture. A old man told me this years
ago and it really does seems to help.
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.
Leash training and basic obedience training (sit,
heel, stay, down, and come) needs to start early.
It’s much easier to do when they are small, and
believe it or not, a couple of 10 minute training
sessions a day is all that’s needed. Remember to
end each session on a happy note. Never play tug
of war with your puppy. This is a dominance
game among litter mates: just don’t give him the
chance. If you’re playing fetch, and he runs
around you instead of coming to you, squat down
and turn your back to him. He will soon bring it
back to get you to play with him. If you need him
to release something he has in his mouth, then
just lift his ear, blow in it at the same time, and
give the command GIVE. His mouth will pop
open. Give him generous head rubs when he does
this and he will soon associate the word with the
action.