Puppy Behavior Training

Establishing Dominance

Instinctive behavior controls bowel and bladder function as well as many other behavioral aspects of puppy care. You are now the puppy’s parent and your family is the puppy’s pack. As a part of this family function, you must learn how to communicate in puppy language so that your puppy can understand when you are happy and when you are unhappy with his performance. While a puppy is still with his littermates, they fight for dominance to see which one will be the “top dog”. When you remove a puppy from this type of environment of competition for dominance, your puppy assumes that he/she is the “top dog”. Therefore, since you are now the puppy’s family it is your job to teach them that you are the “top dog”. An “Alpha Procedure” or “Alpha Rollover” is used to assert dominance using dog language. This is accomplished by rolling a puppy over on its back and holding him in this submissive position and then fiercely growling at the jugular area on the throat. The “Alpha Rollover” tells the puppy that if you wanted to, you could rip his throat out, so he had better be still and behave. You should hold him in this position until the puppy stops struggling, as if to say, “I give up”. When the puppy has submitted, you become the “top dog” forever to this puppy. The puppy will respect you and want to learn from you, his master. After the alpha rollover procedure you let the puppy up, and praise him in an excitable manner to let them know that you are happy and pleased with him.


In training a pet you should never act as if to punish a pet. Never get mad and never hit a pet. Regardless whether the hit is a thump on the nose, a hard pat on the rump, a slap in the face, a pinch of the skin, or a punch in the teeth, they all cause the same reaction in your pet. This reaction is one of fear, distrust, anxiety, and hate. This may lead to either aggressive or extreme submissive behavior. There is no beneficial communication with the creation of fear through violence.

When praising the puppy, your voice has to be high pitched and playful so that the puppy can determine the difference between happy and not happy. The reprimand tone has to be harsh and direct. When using a reprimand, reinforce it with a physical act such as grabbing the nape of the neck. This area has nerve connections to the brain that when pinched or stimulated tells the puppy to be still and pay attention. This is the area of the neck that the mother dog carried them around by when they were puppies. You would use this type of reprimand while house-breaking or when teaching the puppy not to do those things that you dislike.

For example: Assume the puppy has had an accident on the floor while you where home. The first thing to do is to yell NO! Then retrieve the puppy and bring him to the mistake. Grab the nape of the neck, jerk it, and at the same time use the word “NO” in a harsh loud voice. Clean the mess while the puppy is watching. Take a sample of the feces or urine outdoors to where the “defecation station” is located and place it on the ground. Show the puppy the feces in the proper location and praise the puppy for realizing that this business should be done in this location. Use twice as much praise as reprimand given for the bad act. It is wise to leave the training session on a good note, never on a bad one. Never call the puppy by his name while reprimanding, as this will teach him not to respond when called. The rule of thumb is: “Never a jerk of the neck skin without a “NO!” and never a “NO!” without a jerk.” You always want to give twice as much praise as reprimand.