Taking The Lead
Dogs are pack animals. They love being part of the bigger picture and in many ways, when a dog comes to live in the alien world of a human home, it can be the most frightening and bewildering experience they ever encounter.
In the wild and in particular the world of dogs distance cousins, the Wolves, the pack mentality is the backbone of their organization, their community.
Everything in the Wolf pack revolves around the leaders of that pack which is referred to as the Alpha leader.
This can be an Alpha Male and an Alpha Female, which are always the strongest, healthiest, most experienced and intelligent members of the pack.
The other Wolves look to them for everything and this is vital to understand. It is all about social status and the other wolves need this law and order in their lives to ensure that they are effective in everything they do.
This makes the other wolves feel secure and calm knowing that the big issues are being dealt with by the guys in charge, in this case, the Alpha Pair.
There is a fascinating amount of information about Wolves that transposes to the Dogs we have in our lives today and this important for us as people to understand how we can become the pack leader or Alpha for our dogs.
Becoming Alpha Male or Alpha Female
The alpha male definition or alpha female definition is in most part exactly the same. It’s about you being the leader to your dog.
It means you being the one they look to for pretty much everything in their lives….are you getting nervous yet?
Seriously, don’t be nervous…but having a dog is a big step especially if you have never had one before.
In my previous article about getting a dog from a rescue shelter, I explained that I had adopted as I felt that it was the right decision for me and to be able to give a dog that had been maybe unwanted, a stray, or abused a real chance of a good life.
This can also be a situation you encounter too but, also many of the dogs in shelters or rescue centers have never experienced being part of a pack and this can cause them to struggle with the new life that awaits them.
Alpha Dog Meaning
Alpha dogs have a huge responsibility to their pack. They are the leaders. The ones in charge and the decision-makers.
Lower order dogs are put in their place by them and incidentally, the lower order dogs in that pack like to be treated this way.
If you ever get the chance to watch a pack of dogs playing together, it won’t take you long to work out who is the Alpha. It really is not that difficult to spot once you know what you are looking for.
What Is The Pack Leader?
So, by now you will be understanding what this entails yes? Of course, you do as it is obvious.
YOU are now the pack leader! You have got your dog and you are bringing them home for the first time. Your dog needs to learn pretty quickly that you are in charge and that is where the following help is thankfully on hand!
Please try not to worry about this. It is a skill that you do not have yet and that is perfectly fine. In fact, if you have never had a dog before it may be that you are feeling overwhelmed, nervous and a bit scared.
Again this is normal..but we need to change that pretty quick because your dog is super clever and can sense what you are feeling! Dogs are pretty incredible and you will learn much in the coming time you spend with them.
Be The Pack Leader To Your Dog
Be In Control Of Your Dog…..Not The Other Way Round!
This following strategy for you to become the pack leader to your dog is essentially common sense and easy to follow. There are a few things that may appear or seem counter-intuitive but don’t worry as I will explain them.
I never had dogs when I was younger so I had to learn the hard way with some crazy times and although I will talk about those times on this site in the coming months, I want you to avoid some pitfalls and become the pack leader off the bat is crucial to your life together.
A few key points to remember with your dog:
- Don’t shout at your dog. It makes no sense to a dog. Dog’s don’t shout at each other. They bark and that is entirely different.
- Don’t hit your dog. NEVER do this. Dog’s don’t hit each other. This is a terrible thing to do to an animal and should never happen..thankfully, you are in the right place to learn exactly how you should care for a dog.
I am going to tell you about the system I use. I called it “Tony’s Two Cees” Actually, I just that up! Sounds good, doesn’t it?
OK, well anyhow…let’s look at it
Tony’s Two Cees
That’s me with my Greyhound, Oggy who passed away in 2017. He was a wonderful boy…
The “Cees” stands for “Consistency and Calm“. This can be almost the direct opposite you see of pretty much everyone I have seen with their dogs out on walks. Shouting orders at their dogs, commanding them to “Sit” “Stay” or “Fetch”..at the top of their voices.
The dogs appear to respond, but not in the way you think. The dogs are just making associations with the words and react accordingly.
Shouting at your dog is an absolute nailed on a guaranteed way of creating a neurotic dog and something we want to avoid.
The more relaxed and calm you are with your dog, the better they respond. That is a fact. They are taking their lead from you. You are showing them that calmness is the right way to be.
This means never reacting negatively to anything the dog does that you deem incorrect.
We reward good behavior and we ignore bad behavior. This is where human psychology goes in reverse somewhat.
Humans can get angry easily. If your dog has an accident in the home sometimes it’s automatic for someone to shout.
This means nothing to a dog and if anything, it can actually reinforce what they are doing and make them think as they are getting a reaction, it must be ok.
Remember, dogs don’t shout at each other.
Being calm is so important when dealing with or being around a dog. Calmness shows the dog that you are indeed in charge of all or any of the situations that may be causing them concern.
The Rudyard Kipling “If” poem is a perfect example and one that I try to follow:
“If you can keep your head while all about you are losing theirs….”
As humans we are generally inspired by people who ooze that confidence and have that sureness of foot and the greatest kind of leadership is the silent, inspirational type.
And this is exactly what you need to be…
It’s obvious really. The calmer you are then the better the dog will behave. He or she needs to feel that sort of leadership and as a result, it will also benefit you as well. Your health care is important too and I can honestly say having a dog has made me a much better and rounded person in terms of calmness and consistency.
Get these two things right, and be reassured, it won’t happen overnight, but in time it will become a learned skill and a learned behavior for both you and your dog.
Remember…Be Calm…Be Consistent.
Congratulations. You are on track to becoming the pack leader to your dog!