Alpha, Bossy, Dominant Dogs – The title doesn't matter, the training does

Having trouble with your bossy or alpha type dog?  Is he out of control and taking over your household?  It could be easier than you think to begin turning your “untamed adolescent” into your price charming or little princess in no time at all.  How could this be possible you ask?

Simple structure and training will usually do it.

  • Structure:  put your wild child on a learn-to-earn program.  That is, immediately start requiring a sit for everything:  food, access to you, toys, or love and affection.  As soon as you can, teach your dog down, add that to the earn-to-learn requirement creating “doggie push-ups” 
  • Training:  work a short 2 minute regimen on the basic commands 3 times a day with your dog, (who can’t give 6 minutes a day to their dog?).  A morning workout on commands is best as it starts each day with expectation of who’s doing what for whom.

Here’s the reason obedience training works so well.  As dogs interact daily with each other, often in subtle competition for some resource, (food, toys), there is a stimulus-response pattern with dogs that, to a large extent, determines leader-follower relationships in any given moment between the dogs.  If a dog has a bone and another dog approaches, the dog with the bone growls (stimulus-leader) and the other dog backs off (response-follower).  We can see it best explained between dogs and humans in the “nudge”- pet activity that goes on between owner and dog.

As the dog nudges the owner to stimulate a response, this is usually followed by the owner who obliges with a petting response, setting the dog up as the leader and the owner as the follower.  Definitely not the “order” you want.

This can systematically be reversed through the use of obedience commands,  If in the case of the “nudge” by the family dog, the owner says “Sit” (stimulus) and the dog complies with a sit (response) then in this case the leader-follower relationship has been put in it’s proper order.

And, if done on a regular basis with consistency and repetition, you will be well on your way to getting your bossy dog under control.  You might be surprised how easy it can be!

Jim Burwell,

2 replies
  1. leila_admin
    leila_admin says:


    It appears your husband is not bothered by the dog’s behavior, therefore he sees no reason to re-direct the inappropriate behavior. You dog is getting mixed messages about where he fits in the dog-human
    relationship. If you can’t get your husband “on board” then your dog’s behavior will “most likely” get worse.

  2. Mary
    Mary says:

    My Spinone bosses my husband continuously for attention. He physically nudges him. He also steps on all items that comes in the house as if ” this belongs to me”. He barks long and loud for whatever he wants from my husband, food , play, outdoors. With me, he is more submissive and will retreat and lie down if I let him know ,verbally, and with eye contact that I am not going to do whAt he wants at that moment.
    My husband laughs at this ” bad” behavior. Doesn’t that encourage the dog? This dog has the capability to be well trained and I am distressed that he is becoming so dominant. ( never aggressive or threatening). What should I do?

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