Maybe you’ve hit rock bottom. You’ve had it with the top dog swagger, the chewed up housewares, the coverless corner of mattress you get while your dog stretches across the bed. It’s time for a new pack leader. It’s time for the Alpha Intervention. 

But first, consider your motivations. This isn’t about ego or power, this is about safety. Dogs live in a human world where humans make decisions and set priorities. By establishing your role as pack leader with a firm but gentle style, you protect your pup from stepping out of line and into danger.

To help you dethrone your doggie diva with compassion and love, follow along with these expert tips from Louise Pay, the East Bay Dog Listener:

Warm Up. Before training your dog, make sure she’s exercised and relaxed so she can focus on the lessons at hand. And you’ll need to be relaxed too…the wrong time to train is after a long, stressful day.

Go first. Show your dog that you exit and enter the door first. If she plows ahead of you, bring her back gently. Repeat this step, again and again until she understands that as the leader, you go first.

Eat first. In the dog pack world, the alpha dog eats first and decides who eats next. Make sure that you eat something in front of your dog before you feed her. Even if it is a tiny snack.

Slip out. Since pack animals in the wild can sleep up to 16 hours a day, it’s best to come and go without a fuss so she can feel relaxed enough to sleep while you’re away. And don’t feel guilty for leaving her there-she’ll pick up on the feelings.

Reunite slowly and calmly. We know the warm welcome is nice but don’t reward jumping and excited behavior when you come home. Ignore her for as long as it takes (even up to 30 minutes if necessary), then praise her with a treat or snuggle for her patience.

Try, try again. To keep your training on target and effective, consistently reinforce what your dog learns with repetition and rewards. 

If you’re having extreme behavior issues, you’ll need to try one-on-one in-home coaching.  Contact the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT), the ASPCA, or your local shelter for recommendations for trainers and behavioral consultants.

The Scoop:

Thanks to Louise Pay, The East Bay Dog Listener, for the tip.

Louise offers in-home training using Amichien Bonding, the training philosophy developed by Jan Fennel, the original dog listener. She is a 4H leader, member of APDT and a volunteer leader with the Alameda County Guide Dog Puppy Raising Club. Louise is currently raising her seventh Guide Dog puppy and recently returned from Yellowstone Park where she studied pack behavior in the wild.

Thank you to Tambra and Riley for the photo.