Dogs are pack animals by nature. This instinct does not leave them when they are domesticated. As pets, the human family becomes a dog’s pack. If you’re a new dog owner or thinking about getting a dog, it’s important to know how to establish yourself as the alpha. When you train a dog, the animal must understand that you are its leader. In the wild, there is an alpha in every pack. The alpha is the dog who has gained dominance over all the other members of the pack.
There are several ways to train a dog to establish your role as ”alpha.” If your dog’s breed is known for being stubborn, such as a Husky, you must be especially diligent and consistent with training. Stubborn dogs will try to challenge you or ”push the envelope.” If you know what to do, however, you can establish your role as the alpha in your household.
Keep the 3-3-3 rule in mind when you train a dog
Whether you have brought a new puppy home or have rescued an older dog, the 3-3-3 rule can help. Training experts say that your dog may feel overwhelmed and stressed for the first three days. The next three days, it will settle into your household routines. Finally, it takes approximately three months to train a dog and gain its trust. It could take longer or less time to establish yourself as the alpha. The 3-3-3 rule is a basic guideline.
Use feeding time to train a dog
One of the best things you can do to establish dominance over your dog, is to teach it to wait patiently for food. It’s not a good idea to allow your pet to grab food from you or to interrupt your meal times. To train a dog in the most effective manner possible, command it to sit and wait while you fill its food bowl. Do not let it start eating, until you give permission. You can do this by patting its head and saying, ”Okay, good dog. Eat now,” or something similar. Whatever format you choose, do it the same way every time.
If your dog tries to grab food from a human or comes to the table while you’re eating, reprimand it. It’s best to teach it to go away and lie down while humans are eating. Using training techniques like this with food quickly establishes you as an alpha in your dog’s eyes.
When you train a dog, ignore its begging for attention
Huskies, in particular, always want to be the center of attention. However, other dogs will also try to dominate you in this way. For instance, a dog might bark while you’re trying to have a conversation with another human. It might try to maneuver its way in between you when you are greeting a guest. To be an alpha, you must demand respect and never give into such behavior. Always reprimand your dog if it begs for attention. Teach it that it must earn your attention through obedience, including petting, taking walks, getting a treat and other special rewards. Huskies hate to be ignored, so you can use this as an effective training tool. If your Husky interrupts or tries to jump on you, abruptly turn your back on it and completely ignore it. Teach your guests to do the same.
Use the reward technique in other daily events, as well. For instance, make your dog sit to attach its leash or remove its leash. If you are petting your dog and it becomes too rambunctious, deprive it of further petting. As an alpha, your dog must know that you have total control over it, in every circumstance.
Be more than a commander—be a leader and comforter, too
Becoming the alpha when training a dog is about more than just learning to give commands and having your dog obey them. When you are the alpha, your pet entrusts its health, safety and well-being to you. This means that you must be able to remain calm in challenging situations. For instance, if your dog is afraid of going to the vet’s, it relies on you to help. Be calm and firm and reassuring. Same with thunderstorms or if your dog is afraid of the sound of gunfire. Whatever the issue might be that makes your pet nervous, being the alpha means that you will step up as a leader to provide comfort and support.
Never allow aggressive play, and never let your dog jump on people
Dogs are highly social creatures, especially certain breeds, like Huskies. When dogs play together, they vie for dominance. A similar situation takes place when a dog plays with a person. Some people think that dogs ”need” to play aggressively, such as in tugging games. On the contrary, your dog will get plenty of exercise from running off the leash or playing fetch. If you allow a dog to play tug, make sure you know how to do it without encouraging aggression.
In fact, there is no good reason to allow a dog to play aggressive games with ANY human, not just you. You’ll also want to assert dominance by reprimanding, then ignoring your dog if it jumps on you. If you use a crate, send your dog to bed if it does not obey when greeting a guest. Some people use the crate-and-wait system of greeting newcomers. This works by crating your dog until your guest has come into the house and settled in for a visit. Then, release the dog and teach it to sit politely while the guest greets it. If the dog does not obey, send it back to the crate. As a side note on crates, using them is not cruel! Dogs are pack animals, remember? They view the crate as their den and it helps them feel safe. This is especially true for dogs that have separation anxiety. Just don’t place any toys or food in there with it because it can lead to injury while you are away.
Do not compete for position when you train a dog
As the alpha, your dog should never gain power over you through position. In other words, don’t ever let your dog be higher than you. Do not lie down and let it stand over you. Also, never sit on the floor if your dog is sitting on a chair or couch, above you. Always make yourself taller than your dog. Alphas have the right-of-way in all situations of movement. If your dog is sprawled across the floor or in a hallway and you want to get by, do NOT go around the dog or over it. To establish dominance as an alpha, walk through your dog, so that it gets up and moves out of your way.
This does not need to be aggressive in any way. Just take small steps so that you bump into the dog. If it refuses to move, it does not see you as an alpha. It is also helpful to pass through doorways ahead of your dog. You can command your dog to drop its toy or allow you to take it away on occasion. All of these actions establish your dominance as the alpha.