|If you are raising a young pup, and/or you can physically control your dog, then physical corrections for serious offences are an option as well. A leash correction (if necessary, you can leave the leash on him around the house), pinning him down (the way a mama dog steps on her pups when they get out of line), gentle scruff shake, and firm muzzle grab are all ways of correcting a pup who thinks he is going to call the shots. You don't want to hurt him...rather, you are making use of all the sensitive places that his mother or another dog would use to correct him for his transgressions. "You can also stare down the animal...an alpha dog has the right to stare, and subordinates are expected to break off their gaze first. IF you choose to stare at your animal, do not be the first to break off your gaze.
The "alpha roll" is a controversial correction...used properly, it can be very useful; used improperly, it is ineffective or can make the situation worse. To cause your pup to submit via the alpha roll, hold his muzzle firmly shut & glare into his eyes, or alternately, take him by the scruff and pull firmly and swiftly down and to one side. The dog will roll on his own; if he doesn't, then it's not really submission. You can "assist" him in rolling onto his back, but be aware that this is not the same message he receives if he has rolled on his own. Learn ALL the signs of submission, not just the really obvious ones like rolling over & peeing...some dogs are genuine born leaders, and have to work their way up to full submission.
If you decide to physically reprimand your dog, don't draw it out into a lengthy knock-down drag-out that ends in a stalemate. If you are getting nowhere, escort the dog to his crate, and drop it. Corrections should be hard, fast, and matter-of-fact...then walk calmly away and remain aloof and distant. When the pup comes to you apologetically, do accept his apology. ;-) Dogs don't "get" the concept of holding grudges.
Choose your battles wisely, when opting for physical corrections--and unless you have already established yourself as the alpha, getting physical may invite the dog to retaliate with a correction of his own. After all, in his eyes you have just jumped rank, and it's his duty to put you back in your place. Also, as with human children, many minor physical corrections such as pinning and the scruff shake are appropriate for a youngster, but may be less appropriate for an older animal. As dogs mature, the way they relate to you as adults may be different than the way they did when they were pups. It appears that there is a window for using corrections that involving overpowering them, and that once the pup is grown, though his physical prowess is now greater than your own, his ingrained "knowledge" that you are stronger may linger on. Don't count on that to control him, of course; at this point in time you should be leading because you have his respect! ;) However, as long as you don't prove yourself to be weaker by rough-housing with him or trying to muscle him around to get his compliance, odds are he will always at least have some doubt as to who is really more powerful.
NO rough play, & don't let him jump up on you. Don't let him on the bed or furniture, either. High places=high rank...and his rank is on the way down. If he won't get off the couch when you tell him to, lift the back of the couch to dump him off...or distract him into leaving on his own.Also, don't allow rough mouthing-learn to teach bite inhibition. (Don't suppress licking; it will replace the biting.) Go HERE for more on bite inhibition.
Forging a partnership with your dog by training him with positive reinforcement should speed your progress greatly...Remember that the basic goal is to convince him that you are his leader. :) You want the dog to look to YOU to make the decisions...that's what the alpha is there for, and all the others are respectful of him and follow him willingly. Give him permission--by saying "OK" or something similar--for everything he does, even if he was about to do it anyway. (Things he's not allowed to do excepted, of course; for those things tell him "No" and correct/distract as needed.) You are teaching him to check back with you before he does anything, because you are in charge. Clicker or bridge-and-target style training, especially with hand signals, works well for most dogs, including primitive breeds; the key to any training is to find out what motivates that particular dog. Most dogs are food motivated, but many will also work for affection, a favourite toy, or the promise of a long walk in the woods. And on that note, a leashed walk is a great way to work on instilling your leadership :) YOU decide which way to walk...if the dog forges ahead, you turn around and walk rapidly in the other direction! If he cuts in front of you, you walk into him and bump him out of the way...if he heads away from you, he hits the end of the leash with a jolt. If he pulls, you stop moving and wait for him to allow slack in the lead before resuming your walk. This will help teach him to focus his attention on you. (Look HERE for another method of teaching him to pay attention to his leader.) And, the walk itself counts as a reward, and encourages him to co-operate with you!
Another leadership trick is to take him (on his leash) into some mildly scary or intimidating situations, such as a busy parking lot, steep stairway, public event, train station, etc. Make it to his advantage to let you be the leader...if he is unsure (and a born alpha seldom is, hence the need for finding situations that lower his confidence in himself), he will want you to lead.
PLEASE do learn how to train your dog, even if only in the basics--a trained dog can control himself, looks to you for direction, and in general is MUCH easier to live with! There are lots of training methods and programs online, or even better, you could find a professional trainer that you are comfortable with.
Some dogs get to be adults without ever learning self-control. This is especially prevalent in animals adopted at a younger age, since they may miss out on the weaning process, and/or a lot of interactions with their siblings. Teach your dog self-control, this is a necessary tool for him in your relationship!
For many dogs, the main (or even only) trigger is food or possessions. A dominant dog will often be found resource guarding. :-/ Some food aggression tips:
The earlier the better, when it comes to getting your dog used to having people's hands in his food!! There are many things you'll want to do from the very beginning. Feed him in a high traffic area, like in the middle of the kitchen when everyone is home. (Setting a bowl of food out in the yard and then going away and leaving the dog to his dinner, is a sure way to start off on the wrong foot...it may be convenient for you, but it will cause problems with a dog who was already inclined to be food-aggressive.) Don't make any special accommodations for him, mostly just ignore him but BE PRESENT while he eats. He is doing two things: associating you with something good--dinner--and also learning that you are not a threat to his food supply. I know it seems like common sense to us: "I just gave it to you, why would you think you have to snarl so I don't take it away??" but a dog doesn't see it that way. Once the food is down on the floor & your hand is off the dish, life just began anew...and who's that lurking nearby? What do they want...??...they must want to steal *my food*! After all, in the dog's eyes his dinner is the most valuable thing in the house! I also like to eat dinner in front of my dogs--it's a great exercise in self-control for them! If he won't wait patiently for the leftovers, into the crate he goes.
Walk past him frequently, stopping every once in awhile to drop something tasty in his bowl. The only exception here is children--never let young children disturb a dog who is eating (!) unless you are positive that he would not bite them. Dogs tend to view children as equals or playmates, and he may protect his food from the kids even though he would never dream of doing that to you.Better yet, hand feed him...and have the kids hand feed him too. Tell him "gentle" as he takes food from you...if he tends to grab things roughly and run off with them, try offering the food or treat in a closed hand, letting him sniff for a second, then slowly opening your hand to reveal the treat. Never jerk your hand back nervously at the last instant--that's why he's being so grabby in the first place; he's afraid the food is going to get away! Another method that helps grabby eaters is to offer the food on a fork. (They'll usually only chomp hard into a fork, ONCE. ;) After that, they are alot more careful of what their teeth are snapping down on.) As always, the dog must SIT before he gets any food from anyone.
(Personally, I am strongly opposed to "free feeding", especially for dogs with dominance confusion. If the dog doesn't need you for food, the playing field is tilted heavily in his favor!)
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