Inexperienced Dog Trainers sometimes place too much emphasis on being Pack Leader, Alpha Dog, Top Dog; Just relax, improve your training style and be sure both you and your dog are having fun.
Most dogs are not professionally trained, they are not working dogs or police or military K9’s. They are not Search and Rescue dogs and most dog owners are not animal behaviorist or have ever trained a dog; That’s okay. The majority of us would be content with our family dogs learning basic obedience skills, they deserve to be taught these skills to happily coexist within the family. Invest in a trainer to help both you and your dog learn these skills. If not, learn all you can and remember to always be self aware. Your dog is reading your every move and trying to anticipate, to learn what it is you want or what you will do.
Problems arising in training are often directly related to the owner being unaware of their inconsistent commands, tone of voice and body language. Pay attention to yourself, your dog certainly is, and in more detail.
Socialize your dog, take them everywhere, allow them to experience new people, sights, sounds, and smells. Exercise your dog both physically and mentally, feed them a nutritious diet and be proactive with their health. This is part of their life long training. Be the Alpha Dog that provides guidance, leadership, training, loyalty and trust. Some love and belly rubs never hurt.
Dogs that trusts are easier to train and a lot more fun to work with.
If dog training is approached with the mindset of wanting to understand what is unique about the dog, its breed characteristics and personality, as well as what captures the dogs attention like toys or treats; you are more likely to be successful in building trust rather than a fearful dog. A dog that trusts is easier to train and a lot more fun to work with. A heavy hand is not needed. What is needed is patience, consistency, educating yourself on basic obedience techniques, knowing when a training session isn’t working and especially when its not fun for the dog or yourself.
Consistency is key, be aware of yourself and don’t allow frustration to take hold, your dog just hasn’t figured you out because you haven’t figured yourself out.
Always realize that your dog wants to understand, and that they are superior in their ability to read our body language, our facial expressions, the tones of our voice, the smell of our body chemistry and so much more.
Dogs are smart, they will learn command variations never intended to be taught to them. Example: “Sit”, “Sssit”, “SIT”, “SIT Down”, “Sit Please”, “Please Sit”… The different variations no matter how they are spoken we easily understand as one command or request; a dog hears each differently and does not immediately associate the differences as being the same command, this is confusing especially when we do this with multiple commands like “Come”, “Come On”, “Come On Get Over Here”, “COME Onnn Get Over Here Now”. Dogs have every right to be confused and its this confusion that often creates frustration in the trainer, and the dog senses this frustration, that’s not good. If the inexperienced trainer is not self aware then it is themselves that has become the problem, not the dog. Eventually the dog may string together these command variations proving how smart they can be.
Your strongest training tool is your ability to evaluate your own training techniques or lack of and improve on yourself first.
If your dog is not understanding commands, and not responding as you would like; it has nothing to do with who the alpha dog is, they simple don’t understand and start to lose confidence, they sense that things are not fun, something is wrong, they get frightened and over time they will lose trust. Enroll in an obedience class, learn from a professional dog trainer. Dogs are family, they deserve to be trained correctly.
Training dogs correctly requires getting trained ourselves.
As an experienced dog trainer I see many people new to dog training revert to their version of an Alpha Dog or overly bearing Pack Leader when their new puppy or adopted dog does not respond as they would like. Don’t be that person yanking a dogs leash believing that’s training. Basic obedience classes are well worth the time and money. Training dogs correctly requires getting trained ourselves.