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Make no mistake about it, that cute ball of fur will challenge you on many occasions. It will be imperative that you assert that you are the boss and what you say goes.
Wild dogs and wolf packs are great examples of how order should be established in your household. There is only one Alpha and he is the boss. There are young upstarts that challenge him on a daily basis, but those challenges are dealt with as they come, otherwise the Alpha may lose his position.
One of the ways the Alpha maintains control is to initiate the stare. There is no mistaking his message as he will have an expression of authority when making eye contact with one of his pack. You can do this in your household with your puppy, or any of your dogs. The stare is accomplished by looking directly into the eyes of the puppy/dog. You want the puppy to maintain this eye contact for several seconds and this requires a bit of training on your part.
To start the procedure, train him with a term or phrase such as: look, watch me, eyes. Something that is easy to understand. Tap the side of your eyes, or use a finger to go from the direction of your eyes to his eyes. While doing this, say the term or phrase when he looks at you so he understands what you want. This initial training should a be non-threatening relaxed exercise.
When your puppy does make eye contact, praise him. Tell him what a good boy he is, or good girl. Do this exercise repeatedly through the week until it becomes natural. When it comes time to be serious with the stare, do not waver. Do not blink. Maintain firm eye contact. Remember, he who blinks first loses.
Another great exercise to show your puppy who is the boss is to teach him to sit. When you require him to sit before you feed him, initiate playtime, or let him go outside, he will understand that to get the food, or to get you to play with him, or to go outside, he has to do what is required of him (sit) before any of the good, fun things happen.
If your puppy growls or snaps at you, this is a serious offense and you, the Alpha, need to take action immediately with no qualms whatsoever. This is accomplished by grabbing him by the scruff on the back of his neck with one or both hands, shaking him, and forcing him to make eye contact—stare him into submission then ignore him for 10 to 15 minutes.
The ignoring part of this exercise is important. When he realizes that he did something wrong, there are all sorts of conniving tricks to try to get back into your good graces—rubbing or bumping your leg or hand, pawing you for attention, rolling over and getting wiggly and cute. Don’t give in and coo at him, or pat him. If you do, your Alpha status is in deep jeopardy and he will never forget that he won round one.
When the puppy is in his adolescence (nine to 12 months old) he may test your Alpha status. When you put him in his place the very first time he challenges you, there is a good chance it will not happen again. Don’t ever overlook a challenge to your Alpha status. If you are afraid to do this, act immediately by contacting a dog trainer. If you do not take action on this behavior your dog could ignore your commands and he may eventually bite you or someone else.Be sure to document your puppy’s training in your The Puppy Baby Book. And, take a look at our beautiful, frame-worthy obedience certificate.