This article might help. It was written by Jerry Bradshaw, one of the founders of PSA, and a very well-respected trainer throughout the country:http://www.tarheelcanine.com/articles/s ... ivalry.htm
Michelle, Nisha is clearly the alpha in the pack at my house; Sacha clearly the underdog (so to speak). Nisha is only 7.5 months old. There can be different social structures within a household. There is one for my social structure: I am the alpha, then Sacha, then Nisha (and Sacha always gets treats first, gets fed first, gets to go out first, etc). Between the two of them, though, Nisha is absolutely the alpha. There are still minor challenges, but Nisha wins every one, and Sacha offers up her neck. Some dogs aren't meant to be an alpha.
Take Wes and his 8 GSD's as an example, they have had Shep the longest, then Kane, then Kasi, then Gypsy, Dominic, Lucha, Lico, then Kona. They always get fed in that order. They always go out in that order. I can promise you, though: Kane is the alpha of the pack of dogs, even though Shep gets "alpha treatment" by the family.
For centuries, wolves and wild dogs have figured out pack orders in the wild. Who are we to decide what pack order they should be in?
I very much agree with this. I have seen it's workings.
My old neighbors have 4 dogs: a Foxhound, a Boxer, and two Doxies. The Boxer was their first dog, is the oldest by 4 or 5 years, and therefore they decided that she should be alpha. From the time they brought home the 8 week old Foxhound puppy, the Boxer was fed first, pet first, treated first, etc.
When you walk into that house the Foxhound, now 2 years old, is CLEARLY dominant. She is keeping the Doxie puppies and the Boxer in line at all times. The owner admits to the fact that the Foxhound appears more dominant but they want the Boxer to be dominant since she is older. But because they are trying to enforce an unnatural pecking order there is conflict between the girls.
They went away for a few weeks at the beginning of this year. I spoke with the housesitter and the afternoon dog walker (I was the morning feeder) and we decided that we would treat Daisy as the alpha (she was having some problems adjusting to her family being away and we hoped it would help out). She was fed first, pet first, etc. After just 2 days there were no spats for the rest of the time. They had ALWAYS fought before because the Boxer was being told she was dominant so tried to live up to those standards, and the Foxhound was actually dominant and was fighting it. But once the Boxer was being told that yes, the Foxhound was the queen bee in that house, she was okay with it, the Foxhound was okay with it, and frankly the Doxie pups could have cared less either way.
And I also look at it that any dog who comes into this house will be lower on the totem pole than Wally. Wally is a very very dominant boy. And just because I bring in, say, a Mastiff, who is taller so I decide he needs to be the dominant one, it will cause HUGE conflicts. Wally is king poop in this house, to any dog. At other people's houses who have dominant dogs Wally is always treated after the dominant dog of that household to ensure that realizes it is not his home, he is not in charge. If the dog is submissive to any degree than Wally is treated first.
By using this method I have never had an issue with Wally and another dog who is either staying here (foster, boarding, etc) or with any of the dogs I used to house sit for. I firmly believe that their place in the hierarchy is from birth, to a certain degree, and unless you have multiple dogs who are mid-pack level, you can't force hierarchy amongst them.
Wow, I hope at least some of that made sense . . .
"All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another." -Anatole France