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Anyone here have an Alpha male GSD? I would like to know about living with one, whats the big difference, how to act, I know its different from a regular dog, any pointers or reading material?
 

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There is a range of "dominant" in people, as there are in dogs. This is one trait that having a good match is critical for the success of dog and handler living together happily. Much of wether it can work out or not living with a dominant dog is dependant not only on the dedication of the owner, but on the energy (natural dominance) of the owner him/herself. Some dogs are dominant enough/owners are not hard enough, that all of one's efforts-- working with a trainer, doing NILIF (Nothing In Life Is Free), seting boundaries, giving good excersise, having calm assertive energy, going to classes, coming onto a forum, taking packleadership seriously, adding more structure, being consistant, etc etc-- all don't change the owner enough to be suitable to live with this particular dog. The owner can employ all the programs and techniques in the world, but if the energies do not match up or the dog is unable to respect/take seriously the owner, living with a very alpha dog can be a nightmare and disaster in the making for a casual owner with a naturally softer energy.

Dominant dogs can be wonderful and best match for people who match this type of dog. Or, they can be the type of dog who gets re-homed the most, because finding a good match to this dog's type of dominant energy is not easy, and is not for a casual owner.

If you already have an alpha male, and your energy is not suited to his, all of the above may successfully work for you both-- the NILIF, increased structure, etc. Or, it may not be enough in the end to make living together comfortable for either. It is hard to try to be somebody that you are not, to try to live with a dog who cannot accept your leadership.

Is the dog in question just a bit pushy? That's a different story... NILIF, training classes, increased structure, etc all make a nice impact on a dog like this. They make great companions who respond well to NILIF and training and firm consistancy!


Truly dominant dogs are jewels to owners who have compatible energy, but can be nightmares to those who don't. For dogs with true dominance agendas, a good match makes both handler and dog happy and able to live together in harmony.


1. The Leerburg website has lots about living with dominant dogs, too! A great place to begin research.


2. Check out NILIF, Nothing In Life Is Free.. do a google search on this!


3.Find a trainer who works extensively with protection breeds such as Rotweilers, GSDs, etc... a clicker training class full of Labs and Goldens and Cockers that is "purely pawsitive" may be more harmful than helpful for you.

4. Ask your vet to connect you with clients who also have dominant dogs.. there are tips and advice waiting from someone who lives and copes with this daily!
 

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My Luther was a very pushy male. He had to eat after we did. He had to train daily, even a walk was training. He had to have all the biggest toys. He had to wear a prong collar to leave the yard becuase he was too strong and too stubborn. He could never be allowed to walk through a doorway first, nearly to the day he died I had to knee him in the chest for trying. The list goes on.

He was also the funniest dog with an amazing ability to make everyone adore him. He was a larger than life personality, totally over the top and I may never meet another one like him.

The one thing that made the most difference in his life was having a younger female too look after and play with. When I adopted Morgan, she was a total nervous mess, Luther was always there to defend her and to show her how to be a good dog - and she is now.
 

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Baron is pretty dominant and at 4 months decided he wanted to challenge his 100+ lb daddy. His breeder couldn't believe how dominant he was. From there he grew and I noticed a growing trend. I'll bite you if I want to, I'll push you out of the way and go out the door first. I'll charge you at full jaunt and try to knock you down. I knew the dangers of rolling him but I'm the boss and my hands already looked like they went through the meat grinder so I figured whats the worst that could happen. Two times I rolled him Once he latched onto my arm while I was laying on the couch. He grabbed and tried to pull me off the couch. I was right on him and held him till he gave the deep exhale. I let him up and he gave me kisses. The other time he ran at me full jaunt on the deck and I rolled him outside. This time I turned it up a notch I was holding his mouth and I bit his nose (just a little pressure) and growled. This time the kisses were abundant. NOW I know how stupid this was and afterwards I realized my mistakes but I feel that was the turning point for him. He tests me but never like that day. If I grab his mouth and use my dads mad voice he snaps out of it and gives kisses. I wouldn't suggest to anybody doing these things because it could be very dangerous, but in my situation it worked. Also like Jenn said pinch collar it works! At 89 lbs I stopped being able to handle him with a choker a while ago. With the pinch collar on he is a angel.
 

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LOL, Luther was 110 on a skinny day so me rolling him was never an option. More than once I grabbed him by the mane and screamed in his face 'YOU WORK FOR ME!' Then I'd lock him in the mudroom and not speak to him for a while.

I also used to scruff him, he had a pressure point where he'd yelp so after a while, I could just put my hand where I used to scruff him and he'd settle right down. He was nuts but we loved that bad a$$ crazy Louie Bear.
 

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Wow 110!!!! I love that "you work for me!" hahahahahhahaa
 

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when I think back I can laugh about him but he was so bad. If there were no webboards, I might have given up on him like the 2 people who had him before us! I finally gained his respect when he figured out that Mommy brought home the groceries and if he was a good doobie, Mommy would take him to the corner deli for flatmeat ends. He loved to eat and the deli guy thought he was funny so he'd save dry slices of prosciutto for Luther.

We still miss the big luginsky, not a day goes by that we don't talk about Luther. It makes my female a bit sad.
 

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Originally Posted By: Brightelf
3.Find a trainer who works extensively with protection breeds such as Rotweilers, GSDs, etc... a clicker training class full of Labs and Goldens and Cockers that is "purely pawsitive" may be more harmful than helpful for you.
AMEN!! We rescued a dominant dog (GSD/Pit/whatever mix) from the local humane society. We didn't know he was sick (giardia/coccidia) when we brought him home and after a few weeks of rehab, our sweet guy emerged as a monster! Took us totally off guard - but the big wake-up call came when I had him out in our back field on a long line early one morning - in the dark - alone - and he came out of nowhere and body slammed me so hard it knocked me down and I spent the next three weeks in a brace to heal a badly sprained knee.

NILIF, exercise, obedience, and routine, routine, routine - NEVER letting him dash out a door or up or down stairs in front of us -finally did the trick. But, I will tell you, there were many days when I was home alone with this dog and very afraid.

We took him to a purely positive obedience class. He was required to wear a buckle collar and there were NO corrections allowed. He was very reactive to other dogs - not aggressive - but wanted at them to play - and pulled me everywhere. I was told that when he pulled, I was to sweetly call his name and give him a treat. Each week, he got worse - and his behavior at home deteriorated, too.

In the fifth class, he actually pulled me off my feet and I fell to the floor. That was IT! I went to the Leerburg site - got some videos - opted for their "dominant dog collar" - a snap-around nylon choke - and went to work.

We have not taken Otto back to obedience classes - but will at some point (to a different place). You wouldn't believe the difference in him. He sits like a rock and waits to be released for his dinner. He sits and waits to be released in/out of the door. He automatically sits at the top or bottom of the stairs to be released to follow. Rather than being the scary, out-of-control dog he was - he is now a delight - incredibly responsive - and we are a testament to NILIF.

We have been lucky - Otto responded - I understand that some dogs don't - but after a lot of sweat and, yes - many tears - we have a great dog. It is possible!
 

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Martie - how weird is this? My dominant boy was Luther. My new puppy is Otto - he's pretty dominant too for not even 3 months.
 

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Originally Posted By: SunCzarinaMartie - how weird is this? My dominant boy was Luther. My new puppy is Otto - he's pretty dominant too for not even 3 months.
That is too funny!
Our puppy, Luther is just a week from five months old. We were doing the "crate and rotate" thing as Otto is so rough in his play. This weekend I told DH I can't stand it any more! There was always one happy one and one whining in the crate. Otto and Luther are about the same weight now (~50 pounds), so we let 'em have at it and they did great! Now all our lives are so much easier and we've been having great fun watching them romp and play. They get to go out with us every day and play off-leash (because Otto is such a good boy now and will always come when called - bringing Luther with him). We take them out to our back field, which hasn't been mowed yet this year and they are a riot to watch. They've started a game where one runs and hides in the tall grass and the other goes crazy wondering where he went. When they find one another there is a riot of running and bowling each other over - and then one runs to start it all over again. We found that Luther has his own little dominant streak and when he's had enough, he makes it VERY clear!

We are also careful to take them out alone each day and continue training so they remember all the rules.

I am so sorry you lost your Luther. We lost our GSD, Klaus, at Thanksgiving last year - and then our wonderful Lab, Drew, shortly after Christmas. We are in the process of "replacing" them - a totally different experience, but we are happy to be moving on and know they are happy, too.
 

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What exactly makes you believe you have an alpha dog?

So many people claim dogs to be alpha and dominant, while the true reason of (supposed) conflict is misunderstanding, bad communication and wrong interpretation.

You could read those

 

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Dogs with towering dominance agendas are out there. They need love and understanding, too... and nice, clearly-defined, firm-as-heck boundaries so that they may be happy and r-e-l-a-x.

If you have a dog with a truly towering dominance agenda, love him, understand him-- but don't fail him by assuming he's just like everypne else's "pet" GSDs. He isn't, and he needs more from you. You can be tender, be loving, be kind, be warmhearted and so loving to your dog, but you can't join the crowd of the "purely pawsitive" that lies so heavily in trend today. Nobody in "all pawsitive doggy class" will understand why Buster gets more frazzled, more hyper, more desperate as the program goes on. For truly dominant dogs, corrections
1.when they KNOW the command and
2. when they really need them
allow the dog to finally r-e-l-a-x. For truly dominant dogs, they only way that they can find peace is to have an extremely STRONG leader that they can just relax and stop trying to control everything.

LOVE your dominant dog. Hug him, massage him, cuddle him, play ball with him, beam your love through your eyes and hands to him. But relieve his stress by being a strong enough leader that he doesn't have to carry stress anymore and can find peace.

If your dog is Mussolini, you cannot be Mahatma Ghandi.
 

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Originally Posted By: BrightelfDogs with towering dominance agendas are out there.
They are out there, but they are very, very rare. Maedchen is completely correct when she says that the vast majority of what people interpret as dominance issues really aren't.

Most issues people perceive as dominance issues are actually leadership issues on the part of the humans involved. The vast majority of dogs do not want to be in charge. But they need to know who is in charge. So if no one steps up to the plate as a clear, fair, consistent leader, they will feel forced to try to take on that role themselves because that's the only way they can be sure who is in charge. And the need to know exactly where everyone stands in the heirarchy far outweighs the aversion most dogs have to being in charge themselves. If the owners have good leadership skills, and build a relationship of trust and respect with the dog, it is a very, very rare dog who won't gladly accept human leadership.

This is especially true when people talk about puppies and adolescent dogs. The rare dog who is truly dominant toward humans, is almost always a fully adult, intact male. Young dogs aren't dominant. They're obnoxious teenagers learning their way in the world.. not trying to rule it. They are working to figure out the rules, what they can get away with and what they can't, and where they fit in the family. If given clear, fair, consistent rules and strong but benevolent leadership from their owners, there won't be any issues.
 

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Back to the OP here who I believe is adopting a gsd, an adult male, aged 3 and weighing 100 pounds:

http://www.germanshepherds.com/forum/ubb...true#Post764114

My 2 cents, for what it's worth:

My first dog was a dominant female. I adopted her at 10 weeks and we had a series of battle over who was in charge for the first 6 months. It was clear to me that unless I established myself as the clear pack leader then I was going to have a very large, very bossy 4 legged problem on my hands.

She was my first dog and I made A LOT of mistakes in the way that I trained her. When she was a puppy I used old school methods (this was 20 years ago) ala the Monks of New Skete and thankfully she forgave me and never bit me. She did yell at me a lot though.
And she had a real FU attitude. But we muddled through and I came out as the dominant female and she grew into absolutely the most wonderful companion, dog nanny, etc.


What matters the most, as Patti said, is ATTITUDE. If you bring a new dog into your home with the attitude that you are the leader then all should be fine. Without that the dog will begin to make decisions for himself and some of those might not be good decisions. With that attitude must come absolute consistency, fairness and clear boundaries. You need to establish all of that right away and keep it up...maybe forever, depending on the dog.
This does NOT mean being mean to your dog, yanking your dog around by the collar or neck, alpha rolling your dog (please don't!) or physically punishing your dog. It means you need to make rules (following NILIF) and be sure they are always followed.

I am NOT a big fan of forcing a dog to do anything, especially an adult dog whose history you do not know. Positive reinforcement combined with a positive attitude has worked very well for me, no matter the dog.
 

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Originally Posted By: MaedchenWhat exactly makes you believe you have an alpha dog?

So many people claim dogs to be alpha and dominant, while the true reason of (supposed) conflict is misunderstanding, bad communication and wrong interpretation.
Well I don't have him yet, but when we did our phone interview the rescue foster told me STRESSED to me he was an alpha, and would I be able to handle him?? Truth be told, she has me worked up and nervous that I won't make the impression on her or the dog and after 6 hours round trip driving I won't be coming home with my dream dog. I am worried and was hoping to find some info or pointers, on what I should/shouldn't do....I have had a dominent female, STUBBORN but never an Alpha. SO I guess I won't know till I get there if she or the dog likes me enough. can handle him. I personally think I can but I am still nervous. Here is his link....I am going next weekend if their back from vacation...
http://www.petfinder.com/petnote/displaypet.cgi?petid=11617591
 

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I love all the advice, I am for sure going to try the NILIF, be firm, and I never abuse my animals, seen too much of that. As I said I am excited but nervous....and I do know to be firm from the moment he steps into my life. I expect I will be on here a lot...but right now I am at Taco Johns hot spot, BC I broke my modem and won't get replaced till Wednesday, so PLEASE forgive me for slow replys...I am dying without internet, trust me.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Ok so I am home with "Mr. Alpha" not sure still what constitues an Alpha, he seems ok to me. A bit stubborn, but its too soon to tell if thats just because were new to each other. I posted in the training & behavior > general behavior since as soon as we got home he lifted his leg on the sofa.
 

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This isn't the dog from the rescue that kept warning that they wouldn't give this dog to someone without dominant dog experience?


Leerburg's website, while I don't agree with all of it, has the best articles on living with a dominant dog. These articles can help you if you are willing to change how you normally expect to be able to do things with dogs. Good luck.

http://www.leerburg.com
 

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1. Establishing Pack Structure with Adult Dogs and

2. Dealing with The Dominant Dog

are good articles at Leerburg to start with.

NILIF will help-- google that and get a good cup of tea, there's so much to read and learn.

In no time at all, you will realize that living with him, much of your usual doggy-handling rules will be vastly different.
 
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