June 29, 2009
Have We Gone "Alpha" Overboard?
By David DiBenedetto
Everywhere you turn these days, some “celebrity” dog trainer is talking about being the leader of your pack—in other words, the alpha wolf. In fact, just yesterday I was reading an article about a trainer who insisted that you should refrain from acknowledging your dog when returning home from work. Here’s what she had to say ...
“Each time you go in and immediately acknowledge your dog by talking to him or even just making eye contact you have communicated to them your status as pack follower.”
The trainer goes on to suggest that you should stay aloof, much like the alpha wolf would when returning to his pack, for at least five minutes. The result, according to the trainer, is a “well-behaved and well-balanced dog.”
Call me a pushover, but when I see Pritch after a long day’s work and she’s wagging her tail (and her butt) like she hasn’t seen me in a week I’m going to bend over and say “hi.” And, hell, if I’m feeling especially loving I may even look her in the eye when I do it! I highly doubt this occasional doting will lower my status among my pack of one. When it comes to training a hunting dog, much of the pack leader mentality is naturally built into everything we do on a regular basis.
Maybe the above tactics are necessary if you own a dominant pit bull or some other extremely aggressive breed (or if you’re dog knocks you on your rump when you come home), but I’m happy I don’t need to employ them. I don’t know about you but after a grueling day at work there’s nothing better than a dog that greets you like you can do no wrong.