Alpha Puppy in Litter [Explained]

Zack Keithy, our author, is a certified veterinarian technician (UC Blue Ash) for over 6 years (contact him here). The articles written here are based on his expertise and experience, combined with a review by our expert vet reviewers including Dr M. Tarantino. Learn more about us here.

When a litter of puppies is born, there is usually one puppy that stands out from the rest.

This puppy is often referred to as the alpha puppy, and it’s important to understand what this means.

The alpha puppy is not necessarily the biggest or strongest; rather, it’s the one who takes charge of its siblings.

It will be the first one to eat, drink, and sleep in its own corner of the den.

It will also make sure its siblings stay safe by bringing them into their nest at night when they’re cold or hungry.

Wanna learn how to tell which puppy is an alpha and how to deal with them? Read on as I reveal the answers.

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How to Tell if a Puppy is an Alpha?

How to Tell if a Puppy is an Alpha?

Puppies are a lot like people: they have personalities, they’re good or bad at certain things, and they’ve got different ways of going about getting what they want.

You can tell if a puppy is an alpha by looking at their behavior in various situations.

An alpha puppy will generally be confident, assertive, and friendly.

They’ll be able to handle themselves in new situations without being overwhelmed or nervous—they’ll just go with the flow and adapt quickly.

Here are a few behavior traits that will help you identify an alpha:

  • Move ahead of other dogs to get through doorways
  • Always pulling on its leash
  • Claim the best sleeping spot and push others out of it
  • Try to steal attention from you when you interact with others
  • Aggressively protects its toys or bone
  • Mount other dogs
  • Staring
  • Not following instructions
  • Excessive barking
  • Might not roll over for belly rubs
  • Frequent marking of territory

Some dog owners would even go as far as to use the Volhard puppy aptitude test, which can reveal some insights about a dog’s personality.

Doggy says, you might like this too: Dog Lays Down When Another Dog Approaches? [3 Solutions]

Why Do Dogs Have an Alpha Characteristic?

Dogs are pack animals, and they operate in hierarchies. This is true of all canines, not just dogs. And the hierarchy within the pack is led by an alpha dog.

As a result, dogs tend to be very territorial and protective of their space—and they tend to be very assertive when it comes to protecting this space against other animals.

However, dogs are especially protective because they are domesticated animals who live with humans.

Dogs’ instinctual need to protect their territory stems from their desire to protect their human owners from predators or intruders that might threaten them or steal food from them.

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How Do You Pick an Alpha Puppy From a Litter?

Picking an alpha puppy from a litter is difficult.

It’s hard to know who’s going to be the leader, and who will naturally be the follower.

You can tell if your puppy is the alpha by observing how he interacts with his siblings and mother.

The alpha puppy:

  • Is first to eat; even if there’s food left, he will finish it off before letting any of his littermates have a bite
  • Is first to get attention from their mother
  • Is often the first one to fight for dominance in playtime, especially with other puppies who are close in age (this can be hard from an outsider’s perspective since puppies often look like they’re playing).
  • Gets their way more often than not when interacting with their siblings or mom

As a potential buyer, you might not have sufficient opportunities to observe the dogs in question, so you might get a better understanding through your breeder or the owner.

Doggy says, you might like this too: Is It Rude to Bring Your Dog to Someone House?

How to Tell if My Dog is Beta?

Beta dogs are the ones who are middle of the pack, right in between the Alpha and Omega types.

They are frequently thought of as trouble makers, much like a middle child, but this is a big misunderstanding.

Beta dogs often exhibit similar tendencies as Alphas, but they do so due to a lack of leadership, rather than being an actual one.

Its behavior is typically more extreme than an Alpha as they overcompensate its lack of leadership.

However, when trained properly, they are extremely quick to learn, highly energetic, and are perfect assistants to guide other submissive dogs.

How Do You Deal With an Alpha Puppy/Dog? 9 Methods

How Do You Deal With an Alpha PuppyDog

Alpha puppies are the bossy ones.

They tend to be the first to jump up on the couch, always want to be petted and played with, and are usually the loudest in the pack.

But how do you deal with an alpha puppy?

The key to dealing with an alpha puppy is understanding what makes them tick.

Alpha puppies are born leaders and they need a lot of attention, so if they’re getting any, they’ll keep trying to get it from YOU!

You need to learn how to assert yourself as the owner of your home and set boundaries for your puppy so that it understands what is acceptable behavior and what isn’t.

Here are some key points that will help you:

1. Being calm and assertive

Alpha dogs need a leader and if you don’t provide that leadership, they will take over.

The key is to be calm and assertive when dealing with your puppy’s behavior so it knows who’s boss!

You should always keep your voice calm and level, even if you’re upset or angry.

If you yell at or scold your puppy, it will only make things worse.

Instead, try using a firm tone of voice when correcting bad behavior or praising good behavior.

2. Always take the lead

You should always give them instructions first—whether that means giving them praise when they look at you or using a clicker when they do something right—and then reward them for following through with what you’ve asked for.

When walking them, do not allow it to walk in front of you.

You must be the one leading the way each and every time, including entering doorways too.

If they start acting up or getting out of control, let them know right away by telling them “no!” or giving them a firm voice correction.

3. Take control of the situation

If you let your dog get away with being aggressive or pushy, he may develop a habit of always trying to be in charge.

When you’re playing with your dog and he gets rough or tries to bite you, stop what you’re doing and ignore him until he calms down.

If he continues being aggressive, put him in a crate and walk away from him until he is calm enough for you to resume playing.

Doggy says, you might like this too: Dog Goes Crazy in The Crate? [6 Solutions]

4. Set rules and boundaries

In order for your alpha puppy to grow into a well-mannered adult dog, they need discipline and structure.

They need rules set in place that they know they must follow if they want access to things like food or playtime with other dogs on your property.

You need to make sure that everyone else in your household understands these rules too!

5. Display alpha behavior

You can display alpha behavior by using confident body language, making sure your dog understands that you’re in charge and they’re not allowed to do whatever they want (even if they’re cute), and rewarding good behavior with praise and treats.

This also means maintaining eye contact, enforcing timeouts, and if necessary, a few taps under their chin that mimic a leadership behavior in the wild (kind of like a boss move).

6. Not allowing it to sleep on your bed

Alphas will always want to claim the best sleeping spot, preferably somewhere on a higher spot.

If you start allowing your dog to sleep with you on your bed, you are sending the wrong signals.

7. Control all food and toys

You need to be in control of all aspects of their life, including what they eat and when they play with toys.

Make sure they understand that all food and toys belong to you.

This means that they only eat from their own bowl at designated mealtimes, preferably in a separate room away from any humans who may try to sneak them some extra snacks.

It is best if you eat first, which is another sign to them that you are the real alpha.

8. Give it consistent training

Teaching your dog to be obedient needs to begin as early as possible.

Commands such as ‘sit’, ‘stay’, and ‘no’ are crucial to preventing unwanted behavior.

As it improves, you can move on to other commands that will further reinforce your position.

9. Let your dog come to you

Alpha dogs tend not to seek out others, but rather, they appear to be aloof and expect their followers to go to them.

Instead of always seeking your dog out, let it come to you when it needs attention.

This shows that you are in control, and it reinforces your position as the alpha.

Your dog will learn to respect you and not bother you when you are busy.

Is a Dominant Puppy a Good Thing?

When choosing a dog, you might wonder if dominant puppies are suitable for you.

Well, a dominant puppy is not always the best fit for all families, but it can be if you understand the behavior and work with your pup.

If you have experience training dogs and working with dominant personalities, then a dominant puppy could be exactly what you’re looking for.

They’re independent thinkers who are also eager learners—they’ll learn quickly when given the chance!

If you have time for training and enjoy spending time with your dog outside of work or school, then this kind of pup might be perfect for you.

That said, there’s no sure way of knowing whether a puppy will grow up into an alpha dog but if you start working with it from young, these tendencies are very unlikely to surface.

Choosing a dog closer to your own temperament might work out better for you too.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How to choose the best puppy in a litter?

First, you want to make sure that both of their parents have good temperaments and health records. Spend some time to observe the litter and watch for any physical abnormalities. Their coats should have a healthy shine. Lastly, take a while to play with them and pick out the one you have the best interaction with.

How to choose a good breeder?

To make the right decision, you need to consider their references, meet the parents of the litter you will be choosing from, check out the quality of the place where they are brought up, and the breeder needs to be able to answer all your questions readily.

Is there always a dominant puppy in a litter?

If you have a litter of puppies, there may be one that is more active than the others or one that seems to be more assertive than the others. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the dog will grow up to become the alpha member of your pack. Nature and nurture will also play an important role in shaping its personality.

When does a puppy show its dominance?

A puppy’s personality will really start to become more obvious as it reaches around 8 weeks of age. If uncorrected, a dog will increasingly develop these traits as they head into adulthood.

In Conclusion: Alpha Puppy in Litter

When deciding whether or not to choose and have an alpha puppy, it is important to remember that the quality of your relationship with your puppy is equally important.

You should know your own temperament and with the info in this article, you can make a better judgment if they are suitable for you and your family.

Having a puppy is a long-term commitment, so it’s best if you can visit the breeder or shelter where your dog will be coming from before making a final decision on buying or adopting.

Consider checking out other dog behavior articles such as why your dog only walks with the both of you (or just you), why does my dog shake his head when he barks, why your puppy lunges at your face, and many more!

You’ve made it to the end, but I hope it’s not the end of our journey. We want to hear your voice! Share your thoughts, problems, suggestions, or anything related to your dog in the comments section. And don’t forget to join our newsletter today too.

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Zack Keithy
Zack Keithy

Hey, I'm Zack, the Chief Editor here. I was formerly a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) for a good 6 years before moving on to greener pastures. Right now, I am still heavily involved in dog parenting duties, and it is my desire to share all our knowledge with fellow dog owners out there! Connect with me on LinkedIn, or read more about Canine Care Central!

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