Some dogs are difficult to handle. They won’t come when called, won’t sit when asked, and bark uncontrollably. These behaviors can be addressed with the right incentives and behavior from the dog’s master. To achieve this the master has to assume an alpha role in the life of their dog, providing leadership and discipline that the dog would expect from a pack leader in the wild.
Please note that if your dog is aggressive or violent, they may require advanced training from a professional. You should not attempt to work with an animal that can cause you harm. Always exercise discretion and good judgment regarding the disposition of your dog.
Many dog owners try to befriend their dogs, to humanize them, and to treat them as quasi-equals, or even worse as being more important than the master. The role of a master or alpha is very important in the life of a dog and guides the experience of a dog towards its proper role in the pack. A master provides discipline, care, and feeding opportunities just as an alpha would in the wild.
One mistake frequently made by dog owners is to confuse affection for their dog as being sufficient for that dog’s happiness. Affection, acceptance and love are prime emotional needs for humans. Dogs don’t have the same emotional demands that humans have. Treating your dog like a person can only lead to confusion about the proper roles of master and pet.
To begin, the master should be the source of food for the dog. Not only the source for food but also a source for required discipline before feeding. When it’s time to feed your dog, make him wait before he can begin eating. The dog should sit or lay in a still position as you set the feeding dish near, but not directly in front of them. When the food has been set, and the dog is holding position waiting, you can motion to your dog to approach and eat. This routine should be repeated at every meal until it becomes second nature for your dog. Your pet eats only when you say it is time to eat, even if the food is available in front of them.
Imposing this discipline may be difficult. Your dog may not be ready to respond to your commands, and you may have to withhold food or skip a meal to reinforce the point. If you yield to your dog, you are not behaving like an alpha. There is only one way discipline should flow, and it is always from you to your pet. It’s crucial that you resolve to see this change in behavior through, as difficult as it may be to withhold food from your dog until they comply.
Consistency from the master is the order of the day. Repetition of your commands will help the dog form habits consistent with your expectations. Positive change in your relationship is driven by the master taking the first steps. Your new behavior (and how you view your place in the relationship) is leading behavioral changes in your pet.
What we’re creating with our pet is a feedback loop of command, obedience and reward. Once the dog becomes comfortable with this process, they will show obedience even in the absence of a command, sitting patiently waiting for a meal or holding position until given a “Go!” command. Your pet wants to please you because he knows there is a reward at the end of the process. As long as you command and reward consistently, your dog will try to earn your satisfaction every time.
It is important throughout this procedure to avoid getting frustrated or worse, trying to physically discipline your dog. Violence only creates fear, it won’t establish the reinforcing positive feedback loop we discussed earlier. If you’re frustrated with your dog, take a break from the routine for one meal or one day. Resolve to get back to changing behavior once you’ve cooled off.
A happy dog lives an ordered life in his pack, guided by his alpha, or in the case of a domesticated dog, his master. Harmony is achieved when the dog and master are both performing their natural roles.