Sometimes you hear that a dog has lashed out or snapped at its owner. Not much else is done with it, the dog gets a snarl or slap back and that was it. However, it is an important sign that something is wrong in the relationship between the affected dog and its owner. Read below how you can repair the relationship or more importantly… prevent it.
In a pack, there are always ranks and positions. In wolves, there are basically two leaders, the alpha male with the alpha female. In a family, the couple forms these two leaders. All dogs among them have their own proportions, no two dogs have the same rank.
One is always higher or lower than the other, so there is no question of democracy, equality, and equal treatment. This means that you cannot avoid putting the higher dog ahead of the other. That’s not pathetic, that’s creating clarity. And one of the most important things in life as a dog is clarity.
Ranking, wrong expectations
It is often said ‘you have to keep your dog in control at all costs, otherwise, he will become the boss of you’. It’s well-meaning advice, based on the premise that dogs will always try to become pack leaders. It is often thought that the alpha dog shows its superiority again and again with a great display of power (snarling, biting). And yes, then you would rather have that role yourself.
Examples of alpha behavior would be:
- Be the first to go out the door, after all, the leader always leads the way.
- Taking a lower position than the dog is not allowed (for example lying next to the dog or the dog on the couch or bed), the leader is always higher than the rest.
- Acts vigorously when the dog is trespassing, immediately point him in his place by, for example, pinching the nose or laying on the back with a fierce grip on his neck.
Nevertheless, the above acts of dominance are more likely to lay the foundation for mistrust and problems. First, these actions are wrong because they are based on a misinterpretation of the pack leader’s behavior. So the dog thinks you are displaying disturbing behavior from an incompetent leader. Second, these actions can be dangerous.
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Pinching over the nose or grabbing the neck is very threatening and the dog could defend itself by biting with all the consequences that entail. The dog is considered untrustworthy and is taken to the shelter or given a syringe. While he really couldn’t react otherwise and in principle he was right.
The true alpha leader
A true leader shows himself through respect and camaraderie. An Alpha wolf does not feel called upon to continuously prove its leadership. That would cost too much energy, which is needed for hunting. That would not benefit the species for survival.
Most dogs and wolves are not suited for a leadership role, so the lower-ranking animal takes on this lower position entirely voluntarily. The lower dogs in rank, as it were, push the leader into that position, approaching him in a low posture and licking the corners of his mouth.
Should a fight take place, which really only happens when reproduction comes into the behavior, the young are threatened, the territory is in danger, or if there is a threat of food shortage, this fight consists of ritualized body language in which the weaker, without coercion, the humble attitude assumes.
As long as the leader shows himself worthy, there are no problems. If the leader is not capable of his position, then another leader must come who can assure the group of survivors.
Then the lower dogs will continuously challenge him and no longer accept the submissive position. Bloody battles can ensue until the new roles with the new leader are established. That is why it is important to leave no doubt that you are the boss of the house.
How do you notice that the dog is above you?
Has the dog ever growled, snapped, or bitten at you? That is an urgent signal that something is wrong in the rank relationship with your dog.
A lower one will never, ever lash out at a higher one! This always goes from high to low. Furthermore, it is also true that dogs that continuously determine what the boss does, fulfill this higher function. Do you always respond when your dog comes running with the ball, wants to go outside, or wants to be petted? Then this dog has more to say than you think…
This is how you become a leader again
A dog that is higher than you should never approach you with violence. Because the higher does not accept this, there is a chance that your dog can bite you quite a bit. And because people simply do not have thick fur, the risk of injury is high.
There is a better, more subtle solution. You’re going to act like an alpha.
- Every time you enter you ignore the dog for at least 5 minutes. Only when he is calm does he get a pat or praise word afterward. If he craves attention, keep ignoring him until he calms down. If the nagging gets too bad to ignore, you can leave the room and come back after a few minutes.
- The dog eats only after the other members of the family have eaten. The most important members eat first.
- Every time you give the dog his food, drink, or treat, he has to work for a living. So before he gets it, ask for a command, sit is the easiest. The dog will work for everything that he likes in life, so even if he likes to sit in the car first.
- Stop responding to the dog’s demands for attention or play. Then ignore him completely. When he calms down to do something else, call him and pet him or play with him for a while. You also decide when to stop cuddling or playing. So don’t let it take too long and stop before the dog decides to stop. The Alpha decides beginning and end.
- Always let the dog come to you, never go to the dog. The lower always goes to the higher in rank, beautiful vice versa.
When you follow these rules consistently, you will quickly see that your dog will adapt to the new situation.
- Approach the dog violently. The dog feels so unsafe and only sees you more as an unsuitable leader. After all, you are displaying disturbing behavior from the dog’s point of view.
- Do not use any of the following: grab over the nose, grab in the neck, grab in the neck and shake or throw on the back. Grabbing it in the neck or over the nose cannot be done by a human being the same as a mother dog would do. It doesn’t convey the same message, especially because people have to bend when they do this and thus almost automatically hang over the dog (also threatening a dog). Shaking in the neck is only done with prey animals to kill them, your dog thinks it is in danger in such a situation! And forcing it onto its back has no effect, as a submissive dog will assume this position of its own volition if necessary. It serves not only to show his submission but especially to stop aggression from the other position (I mean no harm,
What is less important in all of this?
Most domestic dogs are absolutely unable to function as leaders and do not want to. A dog is not out to take over the lead, he needs a suitable leader. Only when the leader is not functioning properly does the dog feel compelled to take over this role. After all, there must be a leader, a pack cannot function without it.
From this point of view, it is therefore not so bad if you lie down next to your dog on the grass. When you do the right things in your dog’s life, you get a nice companion who feels safe with you. Even if he is lying comfortably on the couch with you!