DISCLAIMER: Caution with potentially aggressive dogs.  If you are not comfortable performing these techniques or require aid for an aggressive animal, please seek professional help.  Alpha based techniques can potentially increase aggression in already aggressive dogs.

The following videos demonstrate various alpha holds and positions that you can practice with your own dog at home.  These are meant to help develop a gentle physical relationship with your canine companion while psychologically telling your dog that you are the protector (or alpha).  Dogs communicate exceptionally well through touch and body language and using these tools will help you to interact with your dog using touch therapy.

Sitting Australian Shepherd Puppy

Thank you for sitting

It is important to assume the alpha role in your dog’s life because this is the role of a protector.  If you are not the protector then your dog will be more prone to fearfulness and aggressive behaviour.  The protector has the responsibility of worrying about all the cars, buses, bicycles, children, loud noises and other potentially frightening noises that dogs may experience every day.  Establishing this relationship is crucial during puppy hood but is effective with adult dogs as well.  And for those multiple canine parent households there can be multiple alphas or protectors for a single dog.  So don’t worry about fighting for top dog as long as you’re both top dog to your dog.

Alpha Positions

On The Back

This position starts with your dog on its back.  You will find that your dog will act very tense and struggle if his head is facing you and making eye contact.  By gently placing your dogs head to the side this will defuse the tension of the interaction.  You will notice your dog’s legs and entire body relax.


To calm your dog while they are in a sit position it is important to incorporate touch.  Placing a hand on the bum and another hand on the chest will help to relax your pet.  This can be used to calm your dog when stressful situations arise.  Remember to stay relaxed yourself as your state of mind does rub off on your dog.


The lying down position is one of the most alpha positions available to humans.  Place a hand on the back of the neck while your dog is lying down to perform this position.  A hand on the bum as well may be helpful.  You can use a modified version of this hold at the park using a leash, which is described in the video above.

Using these holds on your dog at home multiple times a day will help to reinforce an appropriate alpha relationship between you and your dog.  Practicing these holds at home is necessary before you try them in real life situations.  Most of all remember that this is supposed to be fun for you and your dog.  Hopefully you find these techniques helpful in strengthening your bond with your pet.

Have fun!

Dr. Kent Ackerman