Do I need to be the alpha?

(10 Posts)
pilates Sun 13-Jan-19 09:42:12

Sorry I’m new to having a puppy but several people I’ve spoken to said you need to be the alpha in the relationship with your dog. Is this correct? We have various rules eg; not going upstairs, sitting quietly while I prepare his food, not jumping up at people and trying to control his barking but I don’t feel I’m the alpha.

OP’s posts: |
NaughtToThreeSadOnions Sun 13-Jan-19 09:43:59

I have a feeling this alpha/pack theory as used by ceaser milan has been massively discredited

missbattenburg Sun 13-Jan-19 10:02:33

Will the myth of the alha ever die?

- Wolves do not have alphas. They have parents.
- Dogs are not wolves. Wolf behaviour and dog behaviour is very different in a number of ways.
- Dogs do not have alphas. They don't even have packs, in the true sense of the word.

Anyone trying to 'be the alpha' through tricks such as eating first are wasting their time and energy. And probably confusing the dog.

How Dogs Learn by Mary Burch is a great book to understand learning theory as it relates to dogs.

missbattenburg Sun 13-Jan-19 10:03:16

p.s. which is not to say some the 'rules' you describe are not good practice for dog and human safety. They just don't relate to any kind of social hierarchy.

Maneandfeathers Sun 13-Jan-19 10:16:17

I don’t believe in any of the dominance theory crap.

I tend to work on a theory of firm but fair and do have rules but not unnecessary ones. Anything positive I reward and anything negative gets no attention or redirection. I also like to give them time to go wild outside of the home and just be dogs but expect calm relaxed behaviour when indoors. As long as you are consistent they will come to know what is expected.

All of mine are happy, well adjusted and well behaved.

Doggydoggydoggy Sun 13-Jan-19 10:17:22

My opinion..

For MOST pet dogs no you don’t because most pet dogs are bred with a submissive, ‘people pleaser’ temperament because that is the temperament that fits best for a family pet.

While I think all dogs will benefit from being taught polite behaviour and having that enforced I don’t believe that most dogs need permission to get on the sofa, sit and wait before eating, always walk behind you etc etc.

For most dogs, behaviour problems are the result of anxiety and not the result of an attempt to overthrow you and assert dominance and ‘be the leader’.

That said, I absolutely do believe that some dogs have very controlling, overbearing personalities and do want to be the boss and will persistently ‘test’ you and challenge any behaviour from you they perceive to be unacceptable/rude.
Those dogs absolutely do need firm handling - no sofa access unless invited and must get off immediately if requested, must enter after you, must sit and wait for food etc.

I don’t think it is ‘pack/alpha’ behaviour though, I just think that like how some people are shy, some middle ground and some of us are quite overbearing and keen to be ‘the leader’, dogs are just the same.
Most are shy or middle ground.
Some are not...

spot102 Sun 13-Jan-19 11:27:33

I agree with doggy. I love watching dogs being dogs and am fairly relaxed, however they do have a tendency to push boundaries (much like people), so one does need to be consistent with rules, and reinforce them when you feel dog is taking the mick!

I view it more like being a parent than 'alpha', but you do have to know and watch your dog. I did have a bit of a difficult dog a while ago and did do some of the less weird alpha things (eg getting her to ask, not 'eating first'). Not sure exactly how well it worked, but she didn't get worse, and ended up knowing more commands than the well behaved dog. But again, most of her problems were anxiety related.


pilates Sun 13-Jan-19 14:20:59

Thanks all I suppose because I’m inexperienced you start to doubt yourself.

OP’s posts: |
AvocadosBeforeMortgages Sun 13-Jan-19 21:59:58

Ditto all the above smile You've done the right thing by questioning what you've been told; your instincts that something wasn't quite right and you've gone out and found better information - well done smile

I'd summarise the difference between alpha theory and reality as being that my dog needs guidance and boundaries, but he's not engaged in a constant battle to overthrow me! This isn't a bad article

lorisparkle Sun 13-Jan-19 22:06:55

I was recommended two things - first was Zak George videoes on YouTube and secondly ‘dog training advice and support’ on Facebook. Both give really good positive information into having and training dogs.

Join the discussion

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.

Join Mumsnet

Already have a Mumsnet account? Log in