Signs of Alpha Dog Behavior

by Betsy Gallup Google
    Alpha dogs come in all sizes.

    Alpha dogs come in all sizes.

    Jupiterimages/ Images

    Alpha dog behavior may be oh-so-cute in a puppy, but destructive, annoying and dangerous in a grown dog. Help your pet lead a long, safe life alongside humans by correcting alpha behavior promptly and consistently. Your dog will thank you for understanding his role when living with humans.


    Growling is a dog's way of warning others that he is threatened or intends to attack. That means if he is growling at you or other humans, he may see humans as a threat and at some point feel forced to follow up the verbal warning with biting. The correction of growling behavior needs to start with puppies and be handled firmly but compassionately, because you want puppies to understand that you are in charge and humans can be trusted to treat them fairly.


    When a puppy mouths, or play bites your fingers, you may see it as a cute gesture, but think about what will happen when that small mouth is full grown and the teeth are capable of real damage to you, or worse -- a small child. The act of mouthing is an alpha habit that is meant to convey dominance. Avoid letting your pet nibble on you, even in play, and firmly tell him "no" when he does.


    While most people can agree that a dog who barks or bites is showing aggression, other types of aggressive dog behavior can be just as detrimental to your happiness with your pet. Pets who do not understand their place in the family may tear up items that belong to you, mark their territory with urine or try to stand between you and the people you love as an attempt to protect you. A protective quality may be admirable against the bad guys, but disturbing when he is trying to protect you against your spouse or child.

    Taking Lead

    In a dog pack, the alpha always takes the lead. He eats first, walks in front and decides what the other dogs are allowed to do. Your dog expects you to do the same and if you do not, he will. He will walk into the house before you, decide when he will allow you to pet him and when he will obey when you call him. Take your role seriously and remember to consistently show your dog he is not alpha.

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    About the Author

    Betsy Gallup is a writer with extensive business, tax law, management and accounting experience. During her free time, she enjoys crafting, reading and caring for her children and pets. She holds a B.S. in management/accounting from Park University.

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