toby the newfoundland

Posted by susan-jacobs
Feb 17, 2008
I have a 7 month old newfoundland who is trying to be the alpha dog. When taking him out on the lead he will jump up and grasp your arm in his mouth and almost bite your arm. He also bites at your feet when you are out walking him. He is constantly challenging me for the alpha status. He will bark at me and bite my hand or arm. He is trying to be the dominant one all the time it because I am female.

I think Toby is a lovely dog but he needs to know he is not the alpha.
Posted by Todd
Feb 18, 2008
Hi there.

I think you hit the nail on the head there.

The first advice i would give you is to ensure you and your family members have read and understand the techniques in the bonus book "Secrets to becoming the Alpha Dog". These are great techniques for maintaining or establishing your position at the head of the household. No matter what the problem is all dogs need to know where the stand in the house for both yours and their peace and comfort.

Here are some ways to reinforce your position-

1) If you come across Toby he is sleeping or lying on the floor then you can reinforce your position as alpha dog by making him move so that you can pass by.

2) Make sure that you always go through doorways first. A good method to reinforce your position as alpha dog is to walk your dog around the house on the leash, making your dog wait while you walk through doorways first.

3) At mealtimes make sure that Toby eats after all of the humans have.

4) Do not feed your dogs tidbits or let it pester you at the table. Save the morsels and tidbits for training sessions instead.

5) Do not greet Toby straightaway when you arrive home. Make him wait until you are ready and then call him to you.

6) Whenever your dogs want attention or anything wait till they are sitting and being well behaved.

7) When you give a command make sure that you are in a position to enforce the action that you require from your dog, especially in the initial stages of Alpha Dog training. Also, use the Alarm-No-Command technique as described in the Alpha Dog bonus book to reprimand your dog if it does not obey your command.

Generally I do not recommend people give their dogs bones as this encourages the aggression, because in the wild the alpha dog would be the only one to have the privilege of chewing the bones. The reason your dog growls at you when you approach it with a bone is because it believes that it has the right to the bone and is trying to discipline you for challenging your dog for its dominant role.

I also think it is very important that Toby be banned from couches and beds as these are items that can be used to represent dominance.

You should reprimand your dog for unacceptable behavior, no matter what that behavior is. If you do not reprimand your dogs poor behavior then it will feel that it has the right to behave that way and it will take much longer to correct the behavior.

What I recommend you do, is the next time your dog acts poorly and exhibits dominant tendencies (growling), saturate your dog with the garden hose or a bucket of water, or if it is inside, throw a heavy blanket over your dog and be sure to reprimand it. DO NOT yell, as this has no effect on the dominant dog. Growl instead, use a guttural growl like " AAHHH!" instead of "No!", as this makes a sharper sound then "No" (If done correctly it may hurt your throat a little).

The second after you have reprimanded Toby they show the correct behaviour you must immediately reinforce this with praise, petting and attention.

The next step you will have to take is to work very hard on Toby's obedience. Regular training sessions are key to improving your dog's obedience responses and keeping it used to answering your commands. Concentrate on the sit and stay, down and stay, heel and wait commands. The more obedient he is the more likely you are to have success and get him to respond to you when they have misbehaved. This training will take a lot of time and patience.

Once you have done basic alpha and obedience training the problem may have reduced in its severity but you need to reinforce the correct behaviours to fully stop the problem.

Toby needs to learn that biting is not acceptable.

You have to let your puppy know that its biting is unacceptable. The best way to do this is by demonstrating yourself as the alpha dog by growling menacingly, the way an alpha dog would.

Sit down with your puppy and hold out your hand. If the puppy bites growl sharply, say "AAHH" rather then "NO", and do not yell it, growl it; make it quite gutteral (even if this gives you a sore throat).
Hold out your hand again, and if your puppy goes to bite it again, growl again but stand up suddenly at the same time. Walk away for a few minutes.
Then come back and sit down to play again, hold out your hand once more. If the puppy goes to bite for a third time be ready for it and give the puppy a little thump on the nose and growl once more (thump hard enough for the puppy to actually feel it) with the hand you are holding out. Generally, I do not recommend you hit your puppy, however, in your particular case this may be the only thing that will get the message across.
Hold out your hand again, and by then your puppy should be wary of your hand (be aware that the hand biting behavior is probably a habit by now).

A word of warning: Be careful with young children practicing this kind of behavior modification. A child's first reaction to being bitten is to push the puppy away with their hands. Your puppy is likely to interpret that action as being play, which in turn causes the puppy to nip more.

Be sure not to let any visitors or strangers encourage the hand biting. I have found that many people think a puppy biting hands is cute because it does not hurt. And they are rewarding the puppy for biting, this is neither fair to the puppy or the owner who has to deal with a puppy who, grows bigger and stronger every day, and bites.

Never play tug of war games with your dog if you are having nipping problems. This will just encourage out of control behavior.

Good luck with Toby, be patient and let me know how things are going.