Basic Training for Dog and Baby-Alpha and Dominance Two

Alpha and Dominance Continued

There are training protocols to be followed if your dog displays what the text books lable as dominant behaviors toward people. Dominant behavior toward people can be a very slippery slope because in some cases it can lead to behaviors that are labled as dominance aggression. If your dog displays any aggression toward you or any other people please see an Applied Animal Behaviorist.

What are dominant behaviors? This is a question with many answers. You see, not all behaviors that seem to be dominant based are rooted in dominance. Because we do not speak the same language as our canine friends we can only assume that some behaviors are "dominant". (My Dad had a saying for the word ass u me!) For example, some trainers will say "If your dog has toe nail trimming issues they are being dominant". Well, that is simply not true. My dog Mythos who is a loving, big, blockheaded, dope, is HORRIFIED when I trim his nails. He yelps, pulls away, leans into me, stares a hole into my head, his pupils are blasted, he sits on my feet, he becomes stiff as a board, and one time when I cut the quick, he gently placed his mouth over my hand and whined. All of these fall into the "category" of dominant behaviors.  However, in Mythos's case it is a straight up fear/pain related reaction. He was thrown out the window of a car on the highway as a young, young, puppy and it has profoundly effected him. His pain threshold is the lowest I have ever seen in a dog. Thank goodness he is a total pig because when I give him enough treats while trimming his nails he tolerates the session. It also took me 18 months to get him to voluntarily enter the car for a ride. He still hates the car (I wish I could find the people who did that to him and throw them out a car window).

Behaviors to watch out for are no tolerance to touching of head or neck, difficulty performing basic handling exercises, resource guarding, irritable when sleeping is disturbed, refusal to get off of couch or bed, freezing, and you cannot handle the dog's muzzle. 

If you are unsure of your dog's possible agressive behaviors (also including growling, snapping, or biting) please seek the help of a qualified Applied Animal Behaviorist.

**A Note for Men

I have found in my training class experience men tend to be more physical with their dogs, in play and in training. They think they need to strong arm and "dominate" a dog to get the dog's attention, respect, or "teach them a lesson". This is a horrible misconception. You do not need to touch your dog or yell at them to get the desired results in training. I understand that men's brains work differently, they are more physical by nature, women are more emotional. But, when it comes to training a dog you must remember your dogs brain is much smaller than yours. You can outwit them at any time.  They are basically, in human terms, at the developmental stage of a 18 month old child. Who, by the way, does not speak the same language as you. Would you use brute force on a 18 month old child? Hopefully, the answer to that is no.

It is hard to get through to some people about a more positive way to train because they come from an old school thought process on training dogs using physical force. If your dog performs behaviors because they are afraid of you and what you may do to them, then you are increasing the chances of your dog biting you or your child especially if physical force is used in the presences of the baby. In your dog's mind new baby=bad physical pain, new baby is bad for me. A dog that is on edge all the time, because they are afraid of your unpredictability, is more likely to bite out of fear. So please give positive training a chance. Outsmarting your dog into performing behaviors or accepting a baby is really quite easy considering the big human brain to tiny dog brain ratio. 

A roughhouse, hands on style of play sets a dangerous precedent in your relationship with your dog. There are many other styles of interactive play that are very constructive such as teaching tricks and different games. Yes, your dog can learn to play games, it is a blast for you both.