Teaching Your Dog Who is Alpha
Guest Author: Rachelle Wilber
Dogs are loyal companions, and they rely on humans for food, shelter and affection. It is natural to see the human in a leadership role in the dog-human relationship; however, teaching your dog who is alpha is more accurately described as a relationship of cooperation and the sharing of resources.
Dogs are scavengers, and rather than hunting in a “pack,” feral dogs will develop relationships with humans to gain resources such as shelter and food. These intrinsic behaviors can be translated to domesticated dogs who willingly join us in our homes to share companionship and resources. The human’s key role of having access to the dog’s necessary resources for survival is what defines this relationship, and it can be used for all aspects of a dog’s training and house manners.
Stop Yelling, Start Reinforcing
The average dog owner often doesn’t acknowledge a dog’s behavior unless the dog is doing something undesirable such as barking or chewing an inappropriate item. Yelling or taking the item away can be confusing for the dog in the absence of additional instructions. Showing your dog what you want him or her to do – such as chewing an appropriate toy or quietly resting on a dog bed – will help your dog understand your wishes.
Grooming and Veterinary Care
During bath time, reward your dog with high-value food so he or she will look forward to jumping in the bath tub and enjoying the grooming process. Some companies, like Roxy’s Remedies, calm and soothe dog’s skin during a bath. Most dogs are uncomfortable with water, washing or handling, and by making it a positive experience with food rewards, your dog will quickly learn to enjoy this grooming ritual. The same positive experience and association is important to develop for veterinary visits by pairing handling by a veterinarian with food, praise and toys.
Reinforcing Desired Behaviors
Paying attention to your dog’s good behavior and rewarding it will define your relationship with your dog. For example, when your dog is resting quietly in his bed, reward him with food or a toy. Your observant, well-timed reinforcements of your dog’s good behavior will ensure that he or she will be more likely to continue desirable behavior in the future.
A well-trained, happy, confident dog understands that he or she will be reinforced and rewarded for repeating desired behaviors. As the dog owner, your role is to be observant and take the opportunity to reward the dog for the types of behavior that you want to see.
“Training and Obedience: Teaching Your Dog Who is Alpha”
Guest Writer Bio: Rachelle Wilber is a freelance writer living in the San Diego, California area. She graduated from San Diego State University with her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Media Studies. She tries to find an interest in all topics and themes, which prompts her writing. When she isn’t on her porch writing in the sun, you can find her shopping, at the beach, or at the gym. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook
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