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What's up with the whole "alpha dog" thing?

There has been a lot of press the last few years about the Alpha Dog. We hear that it’s important to be the “Alpha” to your dog so that your dog won’t “dominate” you. You must dominate your dog!

I really don’t like this reference. First, it sounds like we need to physically dominate our dogs to make them do what we want. And that’s simply not true! Following the positive dog training techniques outlined on this website will get you great results.

The Alpha Dog idea also implies that if you dominate your dog, they will ALWAYS do what you want. This isn’t true either! There is absolutely no way in the entire world to make your dog react the exact same way to the same cue every single time. There are just too many factors! Your dog won’t ALWAYS listen to you. They might be hurt so they don’t want to perform an action. There might be a deer in your yard while you’re asking them to pay attention only to you. They might be frightened of something and unable to listen.

However, if you have trained your dog with a positive approach some things will be much more predictable. For example, if your dog is frightened to do the wrong thing, they may lash out with fear biting or growling when corrected. This is really common. A dog trained with a positive approach, however, may, at some times, not do exactly what you want, but they will have stable, predictable, friendly behaviors.

For more information on positive training methods, check out our classes at

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