Alpha Pack Theories Disproven!

The tide of dog training is changing.  The good news, is that it has been changing for most of us dog trainers for years, and although there is always a resurgence of negative training methods the science behind dog training is proving that the dog world has had it all wrong for years!

Problem #1: Theories were Based on Outdated Information

When dog training hit the mainstream a few years ago and got a lot of coverage on new series and TV moments, almost certainly the reason for a dog’s problems were linked to his “wolf heritage” and short term studies that were done on wolves in the 1940s.

Problem #2:  These Short Outdated Studies were performed on Captive Wolves

The problem with most of these studies that proclaimed to shed light on not only wolf behavior but also dog behavior was that they were done mostly with captive wolves.

Captive wolves are forced into manmade packs, where they are forced to live in a tiny confined environment, adapt, and workout their own hierarchy.  It is hypothesized that the behaviors witnessed were created because of this stressful environment.  Aggression and pecking order were forced on these wolves, because they were forced into this manmade unrelated pack.  Hierarchy and alpha status was required in this state.

In the wild, wolves exist in family structures.   Dr. L. David Mech who has studied wolves for over 40 years debunks even using the term Alpha and Beta when referring to wild wolves.   Most wolf packs consist of a single breeding pair: Dad & Mom, a group of lower ranking non-breeding adults, a group of outcasts, and a group of immature adults working their way up the pack.  Some of these pups will grow up, leave the pack and seek their own territory and mate.

Although the status of juvenile wolf pups changes often, everyone respects mom and dad while testing their boundaries with older aunts and uncles to see what they can get away with.  Sound like anyone’s kids?  I remember the days we would get substitute teachers at school, and we would do anything to get away without homework!

The question is then…Are our dog packs “forced packs” like with the captive wolves or are they more like the “family structures” of wild wolves?  This question is less easily answered and certainly up for discussion.

Are All Dogs Really Wolves?

Submissive Behavior at its Finest

Domestic dogs have been bred for centuries to be pets.  When domesticating dogs first began, dogs that were friendly to humans were bred to other sociable dogs.  Sociable puppies were retained and used for work and more breeding.

During this evolution a process called pedomorphosis or Neoteny occurred.  Neoteny is the retention of juvenile traits and behaviors by the adults of a species.  Essentially this means that stop developing earlier than wolf cubs do; they retain more baby-like behaviors and never mature to the status of adult wolf type behavior.  It is arrested development at its finest and a repercussion of breeding and domesticating dogs.

Doctor Deborah Goodwin the facial features of dogs and how they relate to wolf behavior.   She found that the more a dog breed resembled a wolf the more wolf type behaviors they displayed.

Dogs like Siberian Huskies, German Shepherds, and Golden Retrievers with their long snouts and pointy ears retain more wolf like behaviors, while dogs such as French Bulldogs and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels with their short snouts, big eyes, rounded ears and toy –like faces maintain barely any of these behaviors.

Doctor Goodwin says that a King Charles Spaniel never matures mentally past the stage of a puppy.  It even continues to look like a puppy throughout its life!

So some dogs are more wolf than others, but most have been bred predominantly intentionally or by chance to retain more puppy like behaviors and less wolf behaviors.

Is This Good News?

Not necessarily!  It appears that our domestic dogs never mature to the point of getting the conflict solving behaviors that wolves do.   Wolves can use more submissive behaviors to stay out of a fight, but most dogs have lost these complex submissive behaviors because they remain in a puppy like state.

Young wolves develop aggressive behaviors first and then they develop the submissive behaviors that they will need later on to keep him out of a fight.  Aggressive behaviors develop first so that a dog or a young puppy can defend himself if needed; submissive behaviors are a way to keep out of conflict all together.

But, many of today’s dogs don’t develop these submissive behaviors and they are unable to recognize them when another dog shows them. This is what makes putting adult dogs together such a danger.   They don’t have the passive skills they need and even a wolf pack might launch an attack in a similar situation.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels Always Look Like Puppies!

What Can You Take Away From This Information?

Dogs need a good parent, not a pack leader!

Probably the reason these old theories have worked for so long is by default.  Dog owners do need to be the leader of their home, not because the dog will become aggressive and take over but because these eternal puppy-like dogs need boundaries and a good parent.

Dog owners need to be good parents to their dogs just like they do for their children.  Spoiled children with no rules and parents that don’t set limits create the same kind of mayhem.  Dogs have to learn good behaviors and manners and their parents need to instill and make them follow rules.

It doesn’t really matter if you want to think of yourself as Alpha or parent, what does matter is that you set rules.  And, because your dog never truly mentally matures, you will have to keep on being a good parent and setting limits and rules even after your dog is physically mature.  You will probably need to continue to be a good parent for the rest of your dog’s life!

For those of you who want more analytically information, enjoy reading research studies, and want to hear more from the experts follow the links below!


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  1. Kirsten says:

    Thanks for the great post! You really explain well how dogs communicate to keep the peace among themselves…or fail to.

    I really like the parent/child/family model of dogs in human households, and find that most people–even seemingly diehard alpha/pack model adherents, are open to it.


    joe Reply:



    Minette Reply:

    It is not my opinion, it is fact that the theories are being disproven, which is why I added so many links. Do your research and you will find the same information!


    joe Reply:

    The old school was wait till a dog did something wrong and then punish it.
    They used choke chains and you pinned them down to show who was the boss.
    Unfortunately there still are many trainers that do that and rightly you are against that , as I am.
    Because the old school believed in “packs” you ASSUME that anyone that believes in packs must use cruel methods.
    I believe in packs but if i used cruelty I could not belong to my association as it is totally against any harsh or cruel methods.
    I have done my research thoroughly I suggest you do the same.
    Read what i said slowly and try to understand what i am saying instead of quoting dis proven theories.!

    Rhonda Reply:

    I agree Joe. Aggression is not necessary. Instead, we give our dog major praise whenever she gets it right. She wants to please us and get that positive feedback so she always goes out of her way to please us. We feel that need in her is punctuated by the fact that her previous family surrendered her to the animal shelter. Dogs are highly intellegent creatures. Humans have a long way before we will ever catch up to them. I think that forums such as this only prove that there are still so many who have yet to figure out how to get inside their dog’s head. I’ve relied on the friendship and companionship of my dogs for as long as I can remember. I would never dream of mistreating a friend. They give us unconditional love. How many humans can say the same?


    Joanne Reply:

    When my three sons were quite young, we brought a purebred female Scottish collie into the household. She was well-behaved, very intelligent, and made it clear that the children were her whole life. She allowed me to feed and groom her, but her existence revolved around the children. They loved her back and the relationship between them was beautiful. Of interest though, was that she would sometimes obey them but generally didn’t. She always obeyed me however. If food was left on the table or counter, she would lie underneath it, but never made a move to try to take it (even when she was alone in the house–we would return to find her still lying on the floor, eyeing the food!) When each of the children reached puberty and their voices changed our collie suddenly began to obey them! When she was 8 years old, the middle son taught her to fetch his slippers when he came home from school. I feel she was sort of their “mother” when they were young and grew to accept them as adults when they matured.

    James Reply:

    @ Joes ironic comment…

    I find it amusing that you say you don’t ever yell at dogs and yet you are using the equivalent to yelling (caps) on here. I have trained many dogs myself as well and find that as with children, adults and other animals a combination of positive reinforcement and punishment is necessary to properly train them.


  2. max says:

    Im in Ghana, West Africa and i bought a 3 yr old maltese.she wasnt trained much before i had her. i think your parent/child model is good because i have much by doing what i want her to do. like no matter what im eating, i put it in a plate and then i bring her bowl around so she gets what im trying to send seems to work.


    Minette Reply:

    Just don’t spoil her! Make her have “chores” and earn privileges just like a child would! Dogs need structure and rules!


    Diana Navon Reply:

    Be careful to not feed her onions, chocolate, or grapes which can really injure her. I give my dogs fruit and steamed vegetables every day!


    Rhonda Reply:

    If you love your dog, you will stop feeding your dog the food that you are eating. If you want to send a positive message, you will put some energy into preparing a proper and suitable meal for your dog. Let them watch you prepare it. That will send the positive message. Feeding your dog “people” food is harmful to them and is not a good practice.


  3. Sheila Bliesath says:

    Semantics. Just know they need to respect whomever is their family. So boundaries are important, and consistency, these things that most human children are lacking in their lives.


  4. Mike says:

    You have re-inforced my belief in the “Alpha” theory. We have three siberian huskies and have watched the struggles and antics of our dogs as they vie for dominance. We have also seen them attempt to dominate us before we established discipline. Also helps for us to maintain as rigid a schedule as possible.


  5. Charles says:

    We have two Yorkie males that we rescued. One runs the show but theorize
    But the other is starting to assert himself. How do you give a dog structure?


  6. Rhonda says:

    All you’ve really done here is replace the word “Alpha” with parent, although I don’t recall ever giving birth to a litter of puppies. I think a more appropriate word would be guardian.

    None of this information is really ground breaking news at all.

    Regardless of the type of animal, humans included, we all react and adapt to our environment, which is directly affected by how we are treated by others. Some are clearly better equipped to adapt than others.

    Interaction with other members of the same species can be key in development. As youngsters, how quickly would we begin to speak and walk without the encouragement of our parents?

    Our dog is a labrador, who didn’t know how to swim. We rescued her from a shelter, where she had been surrendered. The previous family had obviously thought she was adorable as a puppy but, after a few months when she grew and needed more attention and exercise, apparently the novelty wore off. She had received no training and the interaction she did have was negative, since she had tons of energy and was releasing it in ways that were inapppropriate.

    Our friend has two dogs. One is nine and the other is two. The younger dog is a wonderful playmate and the older dog is a wonderful and patient teacher. Our dog knew that she should show the older dog respect, even though the older dog showed no signs of aggression. These two dogs taught her how to swim. When she followed the example of the younger dog, there was simply alot of splashing about with little technique; however, the older dog swam with more finess. When she followed that example, she found she could cover a greater distance with less exertion.

    Back to the comment of Alpha theories being disproven, regardless of the dog, whether they are visitors or our own dog, they all know and understand that my husband and I are calling the shots. Our house, our rules. Just because our friends’ dogs are allowed on the furniture at home, they know that we will not accept that behavior. Don’t get me wrong. I lavish them all with love and attention; but they do understand that my husband and I are the authority figures. Body language speaks volumes.

    Incidentally, please don’t compare dogs to children. Dogs follow instruction much more readily than children.

    So here’s how we see it…

    You are in complete control of your dog’s behavior. If your dog’s behavior is unfavorable, you have to make better choices and set a better example. Part of the dog’s behavior is a direct reflection of their health and well being. Provide them with a safe environment to live and good quality food and water. We are in complete support of feeding raw. We also provide fresh, cool, distilled water for drinking.

    If anyone is wishing to debate the benefits of feeding raw, don’t waste your breath on us. We have tried the rest and now only serve the best. After 3 months in our care and on a raw diet, the vet declared that our dog was exceptionally healthy and fit. Any previous health issues had disappeared. She instructed us to continue doing the same as we have been.


  7. Chris Zack says:

    From everything I read above, the respondents have A dog. I am blest with 4 – 3 Labs and a mixed breed – not one DNA molecule of Lab. Her name is Happy and she’s almost 17 years old. Next is Joy, a black female Lab going on 8. Then, there’s 2 yellow Lab sisters who will be 3 next month – Sunny and Love. Love is ADHD all the way! All these girls have been in my life since they were 2 months old, or younger.
    I am “pack leader”! However, it is Joy who keeps the pack in check.


  8. Eileen says:

    I always did wonder about the Alpha pack theory of dogs-at least in relationship with humans. My dog started behaving herself when I stopped jerking the leash (except to prevent an escalation) and used a front loop collar. Another thing I noticed is that dogs will challenge a human by exploiting a percieved vulnerability. In my case, it was going behind me. After I started doing yoga to strengthen my core, she no longer derived satisfaction (or doggy equivalent) with doing that; now she is a model dog. Total strangers remark what a well behaved dog I have.

    So while it is true that dogs are not wolves, it is also true that they will challenge you if they see something that they perceive as a weakness. I also agree that making the dog do something as little as a sit for a meal will make the dog a better behaved dog.SKy dog is now up to 10 seconds without me being in her sight in a sit for a meal.


    Robert Reply:

    What does Yoga have to do with the dog walking behind your back? It made you stronger ? So what? Can you now jerk the lead or drag the dog to the proper place? Or was it the dog that took yoga?


  9. Sharon Korchnak says:

    There are trainers I respect on both sides of this question (although the “pack” structure seems to get more realistic as time goes by). It seems to me that setting “house rules” that must be followed, and then applying those rules FAIRLY and CONSISTENTLY are key to success. If you only require adherence to the rules now and then, your dog will pick up on that very quickly and will try you every time. And it seems to me that dogs have an innate sense of fairness — if you leave the dog for 14 hours and come home to an “accident” — don’t scold or punish your dog for that. That’s your fault. Also, dogs don’t think in past or future … scolding tells them you don’t like what they’re doing RIGHT NOW. That really does seem like a parent-child relationship.


  10. Duretha says:

    I was so glad to read this article. When I began training my service dog, I began reading many books and articles. The “alpha” pack concept didn’t make sense to me with what I knew and have experienced with dogs I’ve owned. As a family life educator and parenting instructor, what did make sense was their intelligence and ability to learn. As I began to train this dog, I found I was training him as I have taught parents and grandparents to teach their children. So the family theory works for me. 🙂 We don’t have to stoop to the canine level, anymore than parents stoop to their children’s level in arguments or discipline. I still don’t have all the answers however; so I’ll be checking in to read more articles as I can. So please keep these good articles coming.


  11. Leslie says:

    my perception of pack leadership has always been that it is a hierachy, such as in a household/family, mum and dad being alpha’s, aunt’s and uncle’s beta’s, and kids inferiors, and to me saying that you need boundaries means that a pack leader is needed, someone to settle disputes and to lead the hunt(or simply make them do their homework lol, pack leader is a term that’s thrown around too much, and people seem to have the idea that it means being aggressive to gain control, it doesn’t it simply means having the ability to raise your pack to a good standard of self control, and to have good life skills.

    Positive reinforcement is my favorite technique, but all too often negative reinforcement is refused when needed and dogs are put down for as a result of political correctness, aggression being the number one cause, it’s a dangerous technique that requires the assistance of a proffessional (for example with fear aggression, challenging the dog would only worsen the problem).

    I feel that it’s important people realize that if a dog can be trained with treats or a toy that it should be trained that way, but when it comes to a dog attacking a human there’s no reason to have it killed it can be trained all that is lacking is the open mindedness to find the stimulus. People fight everyday but are not killed for it (more than often they don’t even get into trouble for it) finding the right method of training for the individual is what’s important


    joe Reply:

    You are so right
    pack leader is a term that’s thrown around too much, and people seem to have the idea that it means being aggressive to gain control, it doesn’t it simply means having the ability to raise your pack to a good standard of self control, and to have good life skills.
    This what i teach but mention the word pack leader and everyone thinks it means you train them to be aggressive to your dog.
    I do not as much as raise my voice with my training.
    pack leader can and often does mean bully training but not always as with me but other trainers should not tar as all together.


  12. Anna says:

    When is a dog considered an adult? My labX just turned 1.


  13. Tom says:

    I believe that ALL dogs need a ‘Pack Leader’…NOT in the sense of trying to be a dominant male alpha type, but an owner that they RESPECT.
    It’s like doing ‘Tough Love’ on teens; If you don’t set rules and/or a schedule, you’ll never get obedience.
    I also believe that too many owners are too EMOTIONAL. You must think in the ‘now’ as a dog does. Unless a dog has been mis-treated as a pup, he really doesn’t even care what happened as little as 5 mins ago. A dog does not HATE and are UNCONDITIONAL in their giving affection. If they RESPECT you…by showing them that you know what you are doing, they will respect you.


  14. Dawn says:

    I am reading “Dog Sense” by John Bradshaw. His book seems to support many of the claims of this article. Of course harsh punishment can be effective in earning compliance. We see it with children that are abused and yet still unconditionally love their abusers/parents. Intimidation is a great way to earn “respect”. You can earn compliance through fear – it is easier to punish bad behaviour and hope the dog figures out what behaviour to substitute instead. However, you can also redirect the behaviour. Even a stubborn pet has a shorter attention span than an adult human.

    Dogs have nowhere to go. There is no one to whom they can complain, so they will learn to display the behaviours that are required. Pet owners simply have to determine what type of family they would like to have. Your dog will love you. S/he will want to please you. Both methods work. It’s a matter of the type of person you want to be and the quality of your relationship with your pet.


    Minette Reply:

    But, it has been proven that punishment is never as effective, so why not use the positive reinforcment!


  15. Captain Mike D. Winkler says:

    I only know about Labrador Retrievers and they are still a puppy even after 2 years. At about 3 years they are a full grown DOG. If you have been following Chets advise over the year when your Lab is 3 years old they are very trainable only to please you. Mike


    Anna Reply:

    Thank you. I am trying to follow Chet’s advice and she is coming along nicely, SO sweet and eager to please but still so much energy!!! And yes I do excercise and walk her every day weather permitting. She still will have an occasional pee accident but only in the late evening. That’s normal right? I’m not exactly sure but I think that I heard somewhere that just like kids, their bladders are not fully developed at the same age?? Thank you again for responding to my question.


  16. Kathie says:

    I have a Miniature Schnazer she is ten years old and I beg to differ with you I used to breed then her parents had show lines on both sides i kept her mother and her in the house and mylady would take her mother down to a permissive lay down and any other female dog she gets around she does the same thing she is the leader and top dog she will even put a male dog in their place she has to make the first move to the other dog first if the other dog lets her its fine if not she will put the down on the ground she is consider a alpha dog


  17. Omara says:

    Great post…!!!! my children are 5 Golden retrievers: Sam, Lara, Bella, Lumpa and Kal-El and I am the mother not the master… obedience by love not by fear…!!!! and every time i heard about the pack structure and the alpha role… I said to myself… seems that maybe I’m not that good at training dogs… but yes… I mean… i do behave like the alpha, But I do behave more like the mom, behaving like the master or alpha, would be like a great relation ship in a work environment instead of a home feeling… its like too serious… and sharing the life with dogs, doesn’t have to be serious at all, its all about happiness, and if you guys know a Golden Retriever, you definitely know what I’m talking about… imaging 5.


  18. SmithD says:

    Hello Chet , I have to disagree with you for 1. All the studies that have
    been done on Wolves was not with forced packs . 2. It doesn’t matter what
    the anatomical snout features of a domesticated dog are , some have more
    game genetics ,like hunting dog instincts, animal aggressive and some like
    show dogs are people aggressive. 3. Just like wild wolves in a litter of
    domestic dogs , there will always be an Alpha male and female. The Alpha male will dominate the food and will mount the rest of his siblings. The
    Alpha gene is by nature to keep the pack strong. The Alpha female in the pack will only mate with the Alpha male, and there are cases in domestic
    breading where attempts to bread a male with a female and the female has
    mauled or killed the male dog. 4. This is one of the reasons why there
    are so many people out here that dogs that dominate them and there children, because they don’t know how to pick a dog and train it. 5. One of the biggest rules is don’t bite the hand that feeds you. Maybe you should
    get some information from the Dog whisperer?


    Minette Reply:

    The research speaks for itself!


    SmithD Reply:

    Minette , You and anyone else can believe all the research you want , the pharmaceutical companies do r&d too , but look how many side affects and deaths there are before they recall them? All species of animals have natural instincts and learned behavior . The Alpha gene is born not learned. That’s why it shows in every litter of new born pups. The Alpha male and female
    pup will dominate the rest of the litter. I’m not making a point
    on Alpha rolling , the signs of the Alpha pup is they mount the
    rest of the pups and dominate the food and territory. The only
    other strong top dog ( sometimes ) is the runt , because it is a survivor ,it has to fight to live.


    Minette Reply:

    I think it is mostly semantics just like was earlier stated. I am just presenting the facts of what is changing in the way dogs are looked at and trained and the way wolves and their behavior has been long misunderstood.

    I am still making up my mind as to which side of the fence I am on but cannot deny the research especially when the researcher who did the first research on wolves is saying HE was wrong. His research is what all these theories are based on and some of it makes sense (click those links).

    I don’t, however, believe in telling people to alpha roll, hitting, kicking and other forms of misconstrued “wolf behavior” that has been used and abused. When people refer to dogs being as wolves they often conclude it is then okay to mistreat them (not all of them but some) but on the other hand then you have the people who use the “mother and father” theory to placate and spoil their dogs with very little or no rules.

    Its simple, really, it doesn’t matter which theory you follow as long as you set up rules, the rest is simply semantics.

    But, I do like a good discussion! Just arming everyone with knowledge and the way the tide is turning in training and wolf theory!

  19. Becky says:

    I have a sort of a comment/question. I am ok with whatever theory and I am good to have rules and boundaries. It’s impossible to read a dog’s mind, but is what this means is my puppy thinks of me as her mother? I anticipated rules and training and she’s a great dog. But if I wanted a child to raise and love and nurture, I would’ve had another child. This dog follows me around incessantly, wants only me, wimpers for me at my door. She needs to have other interests as I have four children of my own and a busy schedule. I am loving and kind to her but I do not want to be her mother, rather a good pet owner who provides a nice, comfortable place for her to grow up. How can I teach her not to need ME so much?! I hope that doesn’t sound cruel, she is a great dog and the kids love her, I just want her to spread her attention around so I can do the same. HELP if you can!


  20. Jacki says:

    LMAO Then all the pups in our recent litter must be alphas – they all mounted each other and dominated (or tried to) food etc. The runt was the most feisty but all of them held their own. Anyway – to the topic. I think all this “alpha” stuff just gives people a convenient technical sounding term to throw around to explain bad behaviour in their pets. I have no idea about the theories or the pros and cons of this debate – I just know if I treat my dogs with respect and like intelligent beings they tend to behave like intelligent respectful being back at me. I don’t try to “dominate” them I just try to lead and guide them. I don’t consider myself a pack leader or a parent. More of a wiser friend. THat’s all I know. And as for the food comments in here – to me there’s no such thing as “people food” and “dog food” – there’s just food and good nutrition. So there’s no such thing as giving dogs ‘people food’. My dogs get as good a nutrition as I can give them. They do NOT get “dog food”.


  21. Mark Oszoli says:

    This post is nonsense and serves nothing but confusion. First you say Alpha theory is debunked than you say you need to set rules, boundaries and limitations for your dog and call it “good parenting”. Isn’t that what being an Alpha is about.

    You guys call yourself new trainers and cry about dominance and submission replace it with other words but the end of the day all you guys are preaching is “positive training”. Well you see in my family as far as the dog’s are concerned I am the “at the top of the pack” and yes I do set rules, boundaries and limitation. I set them not because I want to show the power I have over my dogs but because I want to keep them safe. They have to follow these and if they do not there will be consequences as simple as that. When I tell my dog to come here that means you come here now,and not when you feel like it.

    Now did I bashed them up to make sure they come to me ?? NO! Of course not. That would be stupid but if they didn’t there were consequences so they learned that when I call they come.

    In my work I see so many people who have no control over their dog because all they want to be is “NICE” in the meantime the dog bites them bites others runs around runs onto the road etc putting itself in all sort of danger.

    Take charge its ok, your dog wont hold it against you, and just remember Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is Shell Shock. Different name for the same condition.

    So whatever you want to be a leader a parent or an alpha male the thing that is important is that you set rules, boundaries and limits.

    Ones you have that you can play with your dog as much as you want.


    joe Reply:

    Hi Mark,
    very close to my way of thinking.


  22. To all,

    I do not buy into the argument re “alpha” etc. To my way of thinking (I have had many dogs in my life, and cats, a dog needs an owner/s with commitment to his health and well being, enforced rules and lots of praise. A dog definitely responds wholeheartedly to praise. They just want to please you. Children too respond much better to love, discipline respect and communication.

    My question is :-

    My daughter and son-in-law have a wonderful groodle, two years old. (A groodle is a cross breed standard poodle with golden retriever for those who do not know.)

    This groodle is wonderful, intelligent, obedient, lives indoors in a SMALL three bedroom house. They consulted the breeder as to how to discipline him and took him to classes where he out shone all other puppies with his behaviour (he is quick to learn and intelligent). He is also gentle and while he loves both his “parents” is especially attached to my daughter with whom he runs on a liesh regularly. THE QUERY: They wish to have a baby in next 12 mths! He shares couch and sometimes their bed (extra cold nights-has his own bed in their room. How will he cope?
    As a rehearsal, the couple sometimes look after the newest batch of groodle puppies before they are picked up by new owners. They ensure they give love and attention to their groodle, before playing with puppies. He is great with the puppies. But, a baby is a different matter!

    Would love to see what other dog owners think and have experienced. Thanks for any input you have to offer.


  23. Hawke says:

    Had a 1st generation wolf hybred. As long as I didn’t expect her to act like a dog she was the best ‘dog ‘ I.’very ever had. Only problem was with a runt female shepherd – if they got together they were going to fight, no matter what.!


  24. Katie says:

    I believe that owners need to do their part and become leaders to their dogs. So many people believe this means hitting them or rolling them over to get them to submit, but it DOESN’T. Being a leader NEVER, EVER, EVER means hurting a dog. Many people have out of control, crazy dogs because they don’t set up rules, boundaries, limitations etc. I know from experience that if you don’t become a leader with your dog, your dog will slowly take over the dominant role in the household, it’s just a dogs natural way of doing things. The dog running the household though, can make life very hard for both owner and dog.


  25. Sandra says:

    I believe alpha behavior is born.Its a state of mind and being just like with people.We have leaders (sadly/ unfortunately some are dictators).My Chihuahua weighs all of 8lbs yet he dominates my 15lb Chihuahua mix when it comes to food or toys.With me he is great I can easily take away food right out his mouth,but all attitude with my other dog and my other dog submits belly up with him standing over him.Although it rarely comes to that.A certain look and a show of teeth gets the message across.


  26. Jania says:

    It is very important to note that wolves and dogs are very different. For example, dog packs are ‘looser’ meaning that they can expand and break up much more than wolf packs. However, it is, to be blunt, ridiculous to say that there is no alpha. If you loath the word alpha, say leader, boss, etc. Middle ranked dogs are never consistent in their asserted positions because there is no pressure to compete for leadership when they already have a leader.
    I have two dogs (who I am the leader of) and when they greet each other, one stands tall with her ears forward, and the other lowers her ears and tail and does most of the licking and nuzzling. That is NOT equality. To me it is extremely obvious that a dog with erect body language displays assertive behavior and a dog with a lowered tail and ears shows submission.
    I am not a clicker/cookie trainer, and despite what positive trainers say, there is a way to train a dog without food luring OR abuse. I am calm around my dogs, I don’t be inconsistent or yell. I do not frighten or physically push or pin them, but when they do something wrong, such as chasing the feral cat, I say “No” in a firm, stern but quiet voice and give them a quick correction with the prong collar or with my fingers. I do not twist and pinch the dogs’ skin, I do not smack or kick them, and their properly fitted and properly used prong collars do not create sores, bruises or fear.
    Contrary to the now mainstream ‘information’ on the detrimental effects of prong collars, the dogs their selves up and are absolutely thrilled to do training sessions and come when called. They are eager, not reluctant and they do not flinch at quick movements.
    I’m not sure how no one else can see it, but I observe in dogs that they nip each other in play, and when a lower ranking individual steps out of line.


    Minette Reply:

    You are behind in your dog training science!

    I recommend some CE classes and attending some training seminars on dog training and understanding training concepts and basic behavior.

    I would love to see you train a chicken or a fish.

    I feel for your dogs, but they are dogs and dogs are happy creatures, I have no doubt believing they are excited to have someone spend time with them. But if you use your mind there is no reason to have to use your body physically to get them to do what you want.

    I can train without food too and certainly prefer not luring but capturing.

    Check out the APDT and look for some seminars near you


  27. Jania says:

    No matter what anyone says, I still haven’t stopped seeing organized rank in dog packs.

    I probably sound set in my ways, but I am researching other training methods and am comparing them.

    If I trained a chicken or a fish, I would train them differently. All animals need kind caretakers, but it is very important to note that different species can be very different in behavior. For example, I was out working with a disrespectful young horse last year (she was never abused, just spoiled), and she bucked at me. I swung a rope in the air without smacking her to keep her hind end from me. Yet if, for example, I was working with a cougar or a tiger and it lashed out at me with a paw, I would not swing a rope at it or roundpen it like a horse. I would not put a horse in a stall (unless necessary) or a dog out in a huge field. Nor would I treat a fish like a furry land mammal that runs in packs.

    My dogs are not unhappy or fearful. Believe me, I know what an unhappy dog looks like. My dogs listen off leash and collar, even when a deer is racing past and/or they are far away from me. And they do it with enthusiasm, not with reluctance or caution.

    Right now I am trying to figure out training methods that exclude restraining tools such prong collars, gentle leaders, halties, no-pull harnesses, etc. and even treats, but includes praise. I know there is no such thing as a quick, magical fix, but I would also like to do my best to not depend so much on tools as such.


    Minette Reply:

    I don’t understand why you would train one differently than another. The same basic principles of learning apply. Having worked with big cats and kids and dogs etc. I know that learning and rewarding a job well done is basically the same across the board. It is about communicating well and teaching not using force.

    I am also not sure why you don’t like treats. If you use them sparingly why not reward the dog?

    Most dogs don’t work just for praise. I don’t think Lassie really existed. We all work for some kind of payout.

    Money for us humans
    Treats, food, toys, games and interaction for your dog.

    Animals work for the things that they need for existence. If you do it right there is no reason not to use food, you just have to understand how to do it right.

    It makes me think you are misusing treats or don’t understand how to use them appropriately


  28. Jania says:

    Basic principles of training certainly are the same, yes. But animals are still different from each other. I do train them differently. For example, I will roundpen a horse who needs work, turning the horse several times until the horse licks and chews and focuses on me instead of looking out somewhere else. Then I get the horse to come, and lower his head, bring it to the side, and also get him to disengage hindquarters. However, I would not roundpen a dog and do horse groundwork, I would do dog stuff with dogs. While there are many similarites, there are also many differences.

    I play with my dogs every day, and I do give them treats, but although I get them to do something first, I do not get the treats for the purpose of training. I do know that there is a big difference between bribing and rewarding.
    And of course my dogs would not simply obey me for praise. But since they have their two meals and exercise, they do work for praise. Respect goes a long way, I find that they do not require food treats in order to continue working willingly. And no, they did NOT just suddenly begin being thrilled to work for praise and attention, I had to earn their respect first, but I did not need to use treats. I’m not saying treats are bad, they are very good used properly. It’s just that I used training techniques to make my dogs enthusiastic and earn their respect- without the use of food during sessions.


  29. zeev shamir says:

    Great observation from you Rhonda.
    My daughter adopted a tiny Bichon mix. He is very kind with
    her, but extremely aggressive to any dog . So she enrolled in
    this Alpha training project. After some ten days of this
    training , the poor thing hardly wants to eat and my daughter
    says ” He is trying to ignore me” . So she softened her approach
    and does not follow the Alpha instructions to the tea .
    Only she is heavily invested in this Alpha dog schooling.
    I hope for her and the dogs sake ,it will end up well being…


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