In today’s installment of Pitbull Puppy Training Tips, we’re going to discuss the alpha concept.
Some people think it’s a myth, but it isn’t.
There is definite hierarchy in a dog’s world, and it involves both animals and people.
Understanding that hierarchy is vital to the proper training of any dog, including pits.
Pitbull Puppy Training Tips – The Alpha Dog
While many people are under the impression that the concept of the alpha dog is a myth, I assure you, it is not. I know this from my personal experience as a dog owner who had up to 15 dogs in the house at once, as well as from working at the vet.
A dog is driven by instinct to understand its place in the world. Its personality will affect how it approaches any situation, animal, or human. If you have a Pitbull puppy that is confident and assertive, you will see alpha behavior. This is true for both male and females.
The alpha instinct is a firmly ingrained instinctual thing carried over from a dog’s wolf ancestors. Dogs need to understand where they sit in their world. Are they on top, on the bottom, or somewhere in between? When a Pitbull puppy is trying to assert its dominance and attain alpha status, you’ll see some very specific posturing and behaviors.
There are certain actions to look for that will let you know that your Pitbull puppy is looking to be the alpha of the group. Some of these behaviors are fairly benign, but you’ll want to address some of them using the tips from my previous Pitbull Puppy Training Tips articles to ensure that they don’t become problematic.
Otherwise known as “humping”, mounting as a purely dominant action. Even spayed and neutered dogs do it. When you see your Pitbull puppy mounting another dog in the house – or your leg – it is simply trying to say, “I’m in charge”. The best way to address this is by distracting your Pitbull puppy from the behavior.
A rigid posture is another dominant stance your Pitbull Puppy might take. By assuming this rigid stance, your pup is trying to make itself appear larger and tougher than the other dogs around it. In and of itself, this is not a terribly aggressive thing, but you’re going to want to teach your Pitbull pup not to do this, as any dog with an especially aggressive nature may attack.
Upright hackles are a tricky one, and that’s why I included them in this Pitbull Puppy Training Tips article. Upright hackles can be attributed to aggression, but they can also be attributed to excitement. There was a dog at our vet who’s hackles went up every time he saw another animal. He was not an aggressive dog, he was just super excited. When it comes to hackles, you have to know your dog, know the situation, and determine if something bad is brewing.
Hovering is a big time no-no. When a dog hovers over another dog, it puts its chest forward and gets as close to the other dog as possible – sometimes pushing the other dog. The dog may make contact with the other dog’s flank or assume a head-on position making direct eye contact This is bad, bad, bad, and can lead to fight rather quickly. You will see this behavior with an especially confident or scrappy dog.
Pitbull Puppy Training Tips Pro Tip: This is an outright aggressive stance, and you should discourage it as soon as you are aware of it.
The Curled Lip
Sometimes, when a dog curls its lip, it is simply “smiling”. I’ve seen this a few times at the vet. We had a few patients who “smiled” whenever they saw us, tails wagging the entire time. That being said, the curled lip is, generally speaking, a sure sign that whatever situation your dog is in needs to be rectified immediately.
As a general rule, the curled lip is the final warning that your dog is ready and willing to mix it up with whatever animal is causing the behavior. Get your dog out of the situation IMMEDIATELY. Especially if your dog is a Pitbull. While Pitbulls aren’t the super aggressive killers many people think they are, if a Pitbull gets into a fight, it will most likely win and cause major damage to the other dog.
Alpha Behavior – Know the Situation
This is the most important part of my Pitbull Puppy Training Tips piece on alpha behavior. Know the situation. Know your dog. Be aware. This is true for all dogs, but most especially for Pits. Your Pitbull may not be the one instigating that alpha behavior, but if it doesn’t like it, it might be the one to put a stop to it.
Aside from situational awareness, the next biggest thing on my list of Pitbull puppy training tips regarding alpha behavior is this. If your Pitbull or another dog is showing behavior like this, take your Pit out of the situation as soon as possible. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Do you have any questions regarding the alpha dog concept? Feel free to ask in the comment section.