How Do I Establish Dominance Over My Dog?
To be an effective leader of the pack for your dog, you must learn how to establish your dominance. For many, that statement conjures images of humans acting like wild dogs and trying to assert their dominance by showing aggression. More accurately, you want to be a benevolent alpha-wolf that your dog respects and that can lead them without being too stern or aggressive with them.
As Daniel explains, it's important to not allow yourself to fall into the misnomer that you need to behave like a wild animal to establish dominance. In reality, your dog is more likely to view you as a friend that they need to respect rather than an enemy.
"What I want is through training and a structured environment that they live in all the time, and understanding that I am the de-facto alpha. Not from a dominating perspective, rather a perspective that food comes from me. Walks come from me. Training and interactive sessions come from me. Mental stimulation comes from me. Safety comes from me."
All of these things are basic concepts that all dogs understand. If you present yourself as the source of these things, your dog will respect you and begin to look up to you in the same way they would a leader of their pack. Establishing your leadership brings about another important aspect of creating a structured environment - consistency.
With your dog understanding that you are the leader, they will look up to you for guidance. However, if you are always insecure that you are the leader, your dog picks up on that. They see your hesitation and will react accordingly. When you offer a command, be confident that it is a command and do not allow yourself to back down.
Always remember: If you show any signs of weakness or insecurity, your dog will exploit them.