“Nothing In Life Is Free: The Alpha Dog Boot Camp”
If you own a dominant dog– especially a dog that has exhibited aggressive behavior– then you’ll need to follow these guidelines for the rest of your dog’s life. They will help create a more natural relationship between you and your dog.
But don’t be fooled: This approach also works on shy, timid dogs– because the shy, timid dog gains confidence by knowing that you are a strong leader who will protect and keep him safe.
Following our Nothing In Life Is Free: Alpha Dog Boot Camp approach will create a balanced, harmonious and more natural relationship between you and your dog.
Remember: Dogs are not “hairy children.” They have different drives and instincts than children do. And although there are some similarities– your dog will interpret your behavior through the eyes of canine genetics that have evolved over several hundred years of domestication.
1. Neuter or spay your dog. Not only will it eliminate the possibility for various types of cancer to develop, but it will also reduce hormonal dominance levels. Have your veterinarian give your dog a full health check-up.
2. Stop roughhousing and playing tug-of-war type games with your dog. It teaches your dog that challenging you is fun. It is not a productive activity in any manner, for the dominant dog. When your dog wins, he thinks he is stronger than you; and stronger dogs are always higher in the social hierarchy of the pack.
3. Teach your dog the down-stay exercise and use it throughout your day. Instead of letting your dog wander around the house or go where he pleases, make him hold a down-stay while you’re preparing dinner, watching television, changing your clothes, etc… Make your dog stay down for at least a full 30 minutes every day.
4. Do not reward your dog if he hasn’t first earned the praise. That is, make him “work for the praise.” If your dog approaches you and demands to be petted, then make him sit, first. Or hold a down-stay. Or some other exercise. He needs to learn that nothing in life is free!
5. Only issue commands that you are in a position to enforce. In other words, don’t use the formal “Come” command if you’re not in a position to physically make your dog come. Do not tell your dog, “Down” if he’s not wearing a training collar and short leash (tab). Otherwise you’ll be teaching your dog that your commands are meaningless. And in the pack, when the alpha dog wants a subordinate dog to do something… he’s never ignored, as this would jeopardize the survival of the pack.
6. Don’t wait to see if your dog will obey a command. If you’re having dominance problems with your dog, then every command needs to be enforced, immediately. Eventually, your dog will become conditioned to respond to commands– and at that same time, you will have noticed your dog has begun to see you is his pack leader. But until that point (which can take several months) … you need to enforce commands, as soon as you give them.
7. There’s an old military slogan: Lead, Follow or Get out of the Way. In short: You need to be the leader. This means that you need to be the first one to walk through doors, the first to eat, and the first to decide where you’re going to walk. Alpha dogs never walk behind the pack. They always lead. If your dog is pulling on the leash or walking out in front of you– you need to change this and learn how to get your dog to walk on a loose leash and pay more attention to you than anything else that may be going on.
8. Your dog needs to “work” for everything. Does he want you to throw the ball? Then he needs to lay down first. Is he hungry? Then he needs to sit and stay there, until you tell him that it’s okay to eat.
9. Your dog should be wearing a leash and training collar, anytime you’re with him. You cannot enforce a command if your dog isn’t wearing a short leash (a tab) and a training collar.
10. If your dog is not wearing a leash and training collar, then he needs to be confined in his crate or dog run. Free run of the house is no longer permitted. Seems harsh? Only to us humans. Remember: You’re dealing with a dominant dog. Act like the pack leader so he’ll view you as the pack leader! Note: Never leave a training collar on your dog when he’s unsupervised– even in the crate or kennel run.
11. You can create your own short leash (tab) by buying short piece of rope (or plastic coated cable if your dog is a chewer) and then tie a knot at the end of the rope. Attach the other end to a harness snap (about .27 cents $USD at your local hardware store). It just needs to be long enough that you can grab, create a bit of slack, and give a tug on the tab when you’re correcting your dog for bad behavior.
12. Do not let your dog sleep on the bed. And do not let your dog sleep on your child’s bed. This is very important. More dominance and aggression problems are created by people who let their dogs sleep on their bed, than probably any other single behavior. The pack leader always sleeps on higher ground. Subordinate dogs sleep on lower ground. Being higher (or on top) is a dominance behavior.
13. Work short obedience sessions, throughout the day. 5-15 minutes. There is no limit as to how many obedience sessions you can work with your dog. The more, the better.
14. When your dog does something right, praise him. The way to effectively praise you dog is by saying, “Good dog!” and then making physical contact. Dogs are very physical animals. And don’t be shy. Some dogs like to be patted, while others like to be stroked. Observe which style of praise your dog likes best, but always make physical contact when you praise your dog.
15. Correct your dog every time your dog exhibits an unwanted behavior. There are many different ways to correct your dog, which we elaborate more on at Dogproblems.com. Remember: You must make sure that your dog gets corrected every time he exhibits an unwanted behavior. (See point 10, above).
16. Dogs live in the moment. You should, too. If your dog exhibits a bad behavior, correct him for it and then forget it. It’s not personal. Dogs don’t do things out of “spite.” They do not possess the ability to use long term logic.
17. You decide when your dog is allowed to meet visitors. Do not let your dog immediately run up to visitors and greet them. You need to decide when and how– which in most cases, should be after holding a sit-stay or down-stay.