Your new pup is home and you are starting to notice some definite attitude. You can tell the pup is intelligent, but they seem to be ignoring you quite a lot. This could be the sign that you are raising a dominant puppy. While raising a little Alpha dog can be tricky there are definitely some things that you can do. Let’s talk about how to deal with a dominant puppy. We’ll start by letting you know what to watch for so that you can confirm that you are indeed raising a little Alpha and then we will go into some tips for helping your furry friend to realize that you are the one in charge!
Dominant puppy traits: Pack hierarchy
So, what exactly is a dominant dog? To explain this we’ll need to briefly describe pack roles. Each pack has 3 different roles that the dogs within it will demonstrate traits from. The Alpha is the leader. Typically in a pack structure this means that they are in charge. They get to choose food and mates first and if you disagree with them then WATCH OUT. The next type is the Beta dog. The Beta is the ‘Second in Command’ and oddly enough, these are trickier to raise than an Alpha sometimes, as they tend to look for situations where they feel that they can challenge the leader. The last type is Omega, which are the lowest in the hierarchy. These dogs are the easiest to recognize as they seldom challenge anyone. They tend to be the most cuddly as well, being the least aggressive. So, how do you know if your puppy is a dominant?
Dominant Puppy traits: Recognizing an Alpha pup
Recognizing Alpha-type behavior in your dog is not so difficult if you know what to look for. Some behavior that Alphas will exhibit are as follows:
- Resisting commands – If your dog is often resisting commands, sometimes even to the point where they become agitated and growl then you likely have an Alpha.
- Aggressive with food or toys – If your dog reacts aggressively when you attempt to touch their food or toys then it is likely that you have an Alpha.
- ‘Herding’ behaviors – Dominant dogs will often attempt to herd other animals or even small children, this is another telltale sign.
- Aggressive response to eye contact – Dogs view direct eye contact as a challenge. If your dog stiffens up and looks like they are going into ‘aggressive mode’ when eye contact is initiated then this is another sure sign.
How to deal with aggressive puppy behavior
If your puppy was weaned at less than 10 weeks of age then part of the problem might be socialization. In a case like this your puppy doesn’t understand body language cues from people or other dogs and when mixed with their natural territoriality this can lead to aggressive behavior. Taking your dog to the park to meet other dogs can help with this but you will want to be sure that you keep a tight leash until you are sure that there is not going to be any fighting. Some time with other puppies can help to socialize your pup if they did not have a chance to learn socializing with their littermates and mother, so this is definitely a good thing to try.
How to deal with a dominant puppy: Other techniques
There are some other things which you can do to properly deal with a dominant puppy. Some tried and true methods are as follows:
- Always eat first – Alpha dogs always eat first and one of the ways that you can establish yourself as the Alpha of the pack is to make your puppy wait until you have finished eating to feed them. While it seems inconsequential, by feeding them before you eat you are telling them that they are in charge, so make your puppy wait to help establish dominance.
- Do NOT let your dog share the bed – Resist the urge to let a Dominant dog sleep in your bed. They will constantly try to take your spot, for one thing, and for another you are establishing yourself to be equals at the very least. While this is okay with an Omega personality dog it sends the wrong message to an Alpha dog!
” It sends the wrong message to an Alpha dog!
- ‘Sit’ before eating – Before putting your dog’s food bowl down, tell your dog to ‘sit!’. This helps to establish to them that they do not eat if they do not listen and reinforces your status as the pack Alpha.
- Never physically punish your pup – A dominant dog can be difficult and you are going to need to exercise your patience. Resist the urge to physically punish your dog. They will not understand it in a best case scenario and in a worse-case, they will take it as an act of aggression. There are other ways that you can discipline your dog that will not damage their trust, so stay calm and watch your temper for the best results.
- Discourage biting – If your puppy bites, say ‘ouch’ or ‘yip'(like a puppy in distress) and immediately stop playtime for 10 to 15 minutes. It is important to discourage biting at an early age so be sure that you do this. Also, sometimes puppies bite when they are getting new teeth, so give your dog something that they can chew and it may help to minimize biting as well.
In this article we have given you a few pointers on how to raise a dominant puppy. While it can be a challenge, dominant pups can still grow up to be your best friend, you just need to be patient and firm with them from the start and as your bond grows they should slowly ‘mellow out’. Just remember that it takes time and don’t let yourself get frustrated and you’ll be seeing results in no time!