Alpha Dog Behavior

If you happen to a have a dog, where you need to be a better boss. There are some things you most know and learn first, about alpha dog behavior. I need you to forget about, everything you’ve read or heard about alpha dogs.

First, let me teach you what an alpha dog does not do. This is important because most of what is taught by todays dog trainers and behaviorists, base their advice on what they think a pack alpha does. They have learned this by reading about dogs, not by actually observing them.

( 1 ) ; An alpha dog, leads by attitude alone. They do not physically lead their pack, when the pack is walking somewhere. Which simply means, they are not first in line. This is important because all dog trainers teach you that if your dog walks in front of you, he’s trying to dominate you, and be your boss.

( 2 ) ; An alpha dog doesn’t become an alpha, by making his pack work for their food. This is the totally ridiculous, “NO FREE LUNCH”, theory that dog trainers adhere to and teach.

( 3 ) ; If a pack member needs discipline, the alpha dog DOES NOT, give him a, “TIME OUT”. ( I’m not going to tell you what he does, I want you to tell me how an alpha dog disciplines his pack mates, if and when they need it.)

Some differences in behaviors, Alpha or Nervous Dog Behavior

For us to have success, in any type of behavior modification with our dog. The most important behavior modification we have to learn, has nothing to do with our dog, and everything to do with us. Our first step is to start learning, memorizing and remembering, the above three, alpha dog behaviors.

Without us learning, what an alpha dog actually does. We can still have a reasonable high success rate, in overcoming behavioral issues with our dog. That just means, most dogs don’t need us to be a better alpha. All we needed was, to spend more time with them.

The Spirit Dog

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Related Articles

Giving your dog a time out

Aggressive Dog Bite or Nervous Dog Bite; The Difference

How to stop all dog aggression behaviors



10 Responses

  1. hi,good jeans in your post,I love thatgoodjeans,I need to find one for me,bill

  2. It’s not silly, to anybody that knows animals.

    The best thing you can do for, Rock. Is if you have any friends, where their dogs couldn’t care less about other dogs. The kind of dog that will meet him, then tell rocky, ” I’m just gonna go lay down over there for a little while”. It helps some nervous dogs out a lot, if they can just be in the presence of other dogs. Without any social interaction.

    Mentioning aggression, I don’t know if you’ve had the opportunity yet, to observe a dog that means business. They are real quite no barking, no growling just staring. It’s like their saying, “come on, just a little bit closer”.
    It’s the nervous dogs, that put on a giant show.

    Good Luck with Rocky. And kudos for adopting an older dog.

  3. That is the most sensible answer I have ever heard and I hope I’m not just saying that because deep down that’s what I’ve been feeling. I’m not going to stop trying to make Rocky more dog friendly – or at least less dog aggressive – but I feel better knowing that sometimes the nut is just a lot harder to crack.

    I’m glad you liked the video. This may seem silly but it really was a triumphant day seeing Rocky playing with Stella like that.

  4. Outstanding answer on the fourth question.” Ease into a comfort zone.”

    Saw the video. That’s the best thing in the world. When one of these guys, can temporarily leave their emotional baggage behind, and play like a dog.

    Sounds like your doing everything right.

    You must also understand, that even if you are doing everything correct. A minuet percentage of these dogs are born with such a high degree of nervousness. That unless you have the opportunity to socialize Rocky with a couple dozen dogs, on a daily basis. He may never truly become comfortable, with non-pack members.

    It’s like individuals that are not comfortable in large gatherings of people, or at parties. They just sit off to the side and only interact, when others initiate the conversation. The difference is, were not going to freak out, and think the other person is going to attack us.

    On occasion, we’ll get a dog here at the sanctuary, that although they will become playful with a hand full of guys. Won’t become totally comfortable, with other dogs in the pack, for a long time.
    – – – – – – – – – – – –

    When we are attempting to socialize nervous dogs, we have to do so at their pace. Not, what we think their pace should be.

    As for Rocky.
    As long as the Rock man, is happy with Stella and comfortable in your home. Don’t put to much emphasis on socializing him with other dogs. Theres nothing carved in stone, that says we have to do that.

    Well Fred : I hope this has been of some help to you., Any more questions, feel free.

    The Spirit Dog
    ( AL )

  5. Hey thanks for getting back so quickly.

    Alright, answers.

    First. Yes, he is my dog but also other dogs that I help out with. A little history, or rather lack of it. I got Rocky last year when he was 8 years old. He had never been properly socialized with other dogs and really didn’t know how to behave around them. He didn’t even seem to know how to play. At first, whenever my other dog tried to play with him, he’d look confused and either bark or run away – I guess mistaking it for possible aggression. After about a year, she finally was successful at getting him to play. You can see the video here if you like (

    Second. Yes the dog does get to be around confident dogs but that is difficult to arrange because of his anxiety/aggression.

    Third. Yes I can, very easily, when there are no distractions (other dogs). He is actually quite attentive when he’s not worried about encountering other dogs.

    Fourth. Very comfortable, though I’m not one to stick my hand out if I think a dog is going to bite. I will, however, ease it into a comfort zone where it won’t bite before I physically interact with it.

    Final question. Yes, very easily as long as there are no other dogs around (other than my other dog who he’s good with). He’s totally fine with people.

    I always make an idiot of myself when I play with my dogs so there’s no problem there.

  6. How are you Fred ?

    I got some questions for ya.

    First, is this your dog, or do you help out, mentally rehabbing abandoned dogs ?

    Second, does the dog get a chance to be around, comfortable, confident dogs. Or just other basket cases,( real nervous dogs).

    Third, can you get the dog to focus on you, with minimal or no distractions ?

    Fourth, what is your comfort level, dealing with varying degrees of nervous dogs ? ( the bite thing)

    Final Question, With out any other animals or people around, can you get him happy ?

    Before I even have the answers, the first thing your gonna have to do, if your not doing it already. Is get him happy when it’s just the two of you together. Forget about other dogs, for now.

    Are you making an idiot out of yourself, when you play with him. Hope so.

    Did you ever watch two dogs that are really getting into playing with each other. Play fighting, running around like idiots, rolling on the ground ? Look at their faces, see the happiness. We have to emulate that happiness, to get a nervous dog to forget that he’s nervous.

    The more he’s playing, the less often he’s nervous. ( Does that make sense) ? That doesn’t mean we have to play with him, every waking minute. Just start shaving off some of his nervous time.

    Anyway, get back to me with the answers.


  7. I’ve really enjoyed reading your posts here, very no nonsense, observant comments about dog behaviour. I especially like your advice to look at a dog’s eyes to figure out how where its emotions are at. Pretty simple, straightforward advice.

    So, here’s my question. You’ve mentioned a few times that the best way to deal with a nervous/anxious dog that displays signs of aggression is to make it feel happy. How do you do this with a dog that gets easily and quickly highly agitated and focused on the source of its agitation (other dogs)? I’ve tried food, backing away, physically turning the dog around, toys, voice. None of it seems to bring the dog’s attention back to me, let alone make it feel happy.

    Do you have any examples of what you did to help out a dog with similar issues?

  8. Hey Nick, I don’t remember getting an invite???

    Lets not forget, we have to teach them to put all their wild aspects aside. Without us doing that, they usually wind up with the big sleep.

    As for timeouts, yea there very useful, for giving the dog owners a time out, ( There the ones that usually need it). The problem is, to many of us actually think the dogs learn from time outs.

    For us to have a higher success rate, when our clients call us with problems. We must learn to teach our dogs in their own language, not how we interpret their language.

    May be of interest;

    Thanks Nick , Have a great day !

    The Spirit Dog ( AL )

  9. Your point on time outs…this is a fair comment, but there are already so many aspects that dogs have to put aside as soon as we invite them into our homes.

    In my experience, a time out is actually a calm and effective way of inhibiting certain unwanted behaviours in the home. The dog finds itself alone and with nobody to ‘bounce’ off of for attention etc. as a result of the unwanted behaviour.

    We can’t hope to emulate all (or many) techniques used in the wild, because they do not live in a wild environment with us. Though I have had a few wild parties at my place 😉



  10. […] Alpha Dog Behavior First, let me teach you what an alpha dog does not do. This is important because most of what is taught by todays dog trainers and behaviorists, base their advice on what they think a pack alpha does. They have learned this by reading … […]

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