Keep in mind that ditching the “alpha dog” concept doesn’t mean you have to let your dog do anything she likes. It’s fine to be the boss and make the rules-but you can do that without unnecessary conflict. Be a benevolent boss, not a bully. Good leadership isn’t about dominance and power struggles. It’s about controlling your dog’s behavior by controlling her access to things she wants. YOU have the opposable thumbs that open cans of dog food, turn doorknobs and throw tennis balls! Use them to your best advantage. If your dog wants to go out, ask her to sit before you open the door. When she wants dinner, ask her to lie down to earn it. Does she want to go for a walk? If she’s jumping up on you with excitement, wait calmly until she sits. Then clip on the leash and take your walk. Your dog will happily work for everything she loves in life. She can learn to do what you want in order to earn what she wants.
Step 1: Using either a laser pointer or touch stick, get your dog in the habit of jumping up to touch the light switch. It is best to have him jump up with his pads on the wall (instead of his claws) touching the switch with his nose. I used a laser pointer here, because I would play with it as a game, knowing that he would really go after it—even if it's on a wall.
To communicate clearly and consistently with your dog, you need to understand how she learns. Dogs learn through the immediate consequences of their behavior. The nature of those consequences determines how they’ll behave in the future. Dogs, like other animals (people included), work to get good things and avoid bad things in life. If a behavior results in something rewarding-like food, a good belly rub, playtime with dog buddies or a game of fetch with her pet parent-your dog will do that behavior more often. On the other hand, if a behavior results in an unpleasant consequence-like being ignored or losing things she finds rewarding-she’ll do that behavior less often. Are dog training classes worth it?
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