All parents figure out sooner or later, preferably sooner, that it’s a juggling act to know when to be a parent and when to be a friend. When to be a disciplinarian and when to be supportive and encouraging.  The most important part is to be in all these roles with love.

Being a pet parent is no different. There are times when we need to step up and be the “IN CHARGE” parent. Using the word Alpha is not a word I use often, but that is the best way to describe how a successful relationship between humans and canines can live in social agreement.

Before I explain why I’m using the term Alpha, it’s important to understand that I’m not comparing the relationship between you and your dog to a male and female wolf and a wolf pack. That is a totally different scenario that dogs were compared to a long time ago and you will see that information on the internet. In this article, Alpha is used to represent the image of the top dog, the leader, and the one in charge.

That said, only one of you can be in charge or be the Alpha; you or your dog. So, first, let’s take a better look at some of the recognizable physical signs and posturing that take place during interactions between an Alpha Dog and lower-ranking pack members.

An Alpha dog will not be the one to break eye contact or look away. Just the opposite. A subservient or submissive dog will turn its eyes and /or head away from an Alpha dog. So, are you the submissive one?

An Alpha dog will not hold his head lower than a lower-ranking pack member. He will not lie down or rollover. If you need to address your dog’s unwanted behavior, do it by standing and looking at him.

This brings me to the big question. Why do I see pet parents turn their back on their dogs? Is this an internet craze? Is it a new addition to positive reinforcement? Is this just the pet parent taking the path of least resistance? Whatever the reason for this absurd behavior on the part of the pet parent is, I know it is a lack of understanding of a different species. Pet parents ascribe human characteristics to their canine family members without forethought of how their dog can take advantage of and manipulate those actions to their benefit. The truth is that I would not turn my back on another human if I didn’t like what they were doing or saying to me.

One thing for sure is if I can’t see someone, how will I know what they will do next? Secondly, turning away makes me the weaker submissive one. So again, I ask why would you turn your back on your dog. By doing so, you are validating his role as the Alpha, top dog, and the one in charge of you! If you look away, turn your head away, or turn your back on your dog, you are not correcting your dog’s unwanted behavior. You can’t see what he is doing and you can’t stop him from doing it again. You’re giving your dog the opportunity to choose what he does next. Most of all, you are REINFORCING NEGATIVE BEHAVIOUR!

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