You hear a lot of terms regarding your dog’s behavior. In a pack heirarchy there are Alpha dogs, Beta dogs, and of course, there is the Omega dog. What exactly does this mean and does it affect how the dog needs to be trained? In this article we are going to discuss Alpha, Beta, and Omega dogs in detail so that you can get an idea of their personality types and train your dog accordingly. Let’s discuss!
Pack hierarchy with dogs: Alpha to Omega
Dogs are extremely social and have evolved a hierarchy structure among their ‘pack’, which in your case is going to be you and your family. The pack structure boils down into 3 categories:
- Alpha Dogs – At the top of the hierarchy, Alpha’s are the ones in charge. They get the first selection at mates and snacks. In your pack you should be the Alpha but sometimes if you have an Alpha dog you will need communicate this to them or risk the dog walking all over you.
- Beta Dogs – Beta dogs are the ‘second in command’, deferring only to their Alpha. If your dog listens to you but tends to ignore commands from the rest of the family then they likely consider themselves the Beta of the pack.
- Omega dogs – At the bottom of the hierarchy is the Omega dog. If your dog defers to everyone in the family then you might just have an Omega dog. If so, then lucky you! Omegas are sweet and very easy to manage.
Let’s discuss these 3 in a little more detail.
Alpha dog personality
Alpha dogs are quite certain that they are in charge and no one else. This can be the most difficult type of dog to deal with as they may well challenge your authority constantly. If you are looking for a dog that you can cuddle and easily control, avoid Alpha personality dogs if at all possible. Alphas make good guard dogs but do not do as well when it comes to socializing. Alpha dogs are not relegated to a specific breed of dog and can occur in any type. Some examples of Alpha dog behavior are as follows:
- Growling when you attempt to move them – Alphas are bad about this. If you try to move them then watch out! You could get a bite for your troubles.
- May bite if you try to touch their food – Alphas are extremely protective of their food and will sometimes bite ANYONE who tries to touch their food. This can be dangerous if you have children in the house.
- Jumping and scratching – Alpha dogs are likely to jump on you and scratch you. This is their way of being pushy and attempting to challenge your authority.
Beta Dog personality
Is your dog very good about listening and yet sometimes, when spoiled a bit, starts getting a little pushy? This is very common Beta dog behavior. These dogs are geared to be ‘second in command’, which means that you need to be a little firm with them so they don’t try to ‘take charge’ of the pack. Just keep the spoiling to a minimum and you should be okay. Some example traits are as follows:
- Loves tug of war – Beta dogs love a little challenge with you and fighting over a piece of rope is fun but there is a little more to it. They are challenging your authority playfully, as it were.
” They are challenging your authority playfully, as it were.”
- Might jump on you unless chastised – While not as bad about it as Alphas, some Beta dogs will jump on you unless discouraged. This is another way that they attempt to challenge your authority in the pack.
- May try to hog your attention – If you are talking with a friend or especially if you are playing with another dog in the house, a Beta dog will try to get in between the two of you as a means of getting all of your attention.
Omega dog personality
The easiest to train and to get along with, the Omega dog is the lowest member of the pack hierarchy and thus the most easy-going. Happily following orders from any member of the family, they don’t stir up trouble by challenging your authority and if you are looking for a cuddly dog then an Omega is your best bet. Omega traits include the following:
- Never jumps on you – Omegas do not try to bully you in the way that an Alpha or Beta dog might. This means that the dog is not going to jump on you or other people (which is quite nice, actually, as it means less training sessions in this regard!).
- Sometimes shies away when you pet them – Omega dogs sometimes look away when you are petting them, as another way of asserting their submission.
- They do not ‘mark their territory’ – Alpha and Beta dogs, when you are walking them, have a habit of lifting their leg and peeing on a tree as a way of marking their territory. This is typically done every few trees. Omega dogs DO NOT do this, as this is a dominant trait and the Omega is purely submissive.
Some final words on Pack hierarchy
In this article we have discussed what it means if your dog is an Alpha, Beta, or an Omega dog, as well as gone into some of the personality traits that you will see based on where your dog feels they belong in the ‘pack pecking order’. We would like to note that if your dog does happen to be an Alpha, this does not mean that they will never be cuddly, just that you are going to have a lot more work ahead of you in regards to training them and asserting your dominance in the pack. In the end it’s about your patience, consistency, and love. Happy training!