Alpha Dog

Jed needs discipline. Our 2-year-old mountain cur turned 2 earlier this month with no obedience training behind him. He is a good, loving, fun dog – just a bit undisciplined. “He’s still a puppy,” is what we say. During most days, Jed either visits the office or attends O’Hair’s Happy Dog Daycare; he sometimes stays home alone.

Last week my husband saw a segment on 14 WFIE News about the Humane Society of Henderson County offering obedience classes beginning that very night, for five weeks, at no cost to donors. At 5:30 p.m. Jed and I were driving across that dog-behavior-improving bridge.

Kent Preston is the executive director of the Humane Society of Henderson County and is conducting the training. Nine dogs joined us the first night. After the first class, I reported to my family that Jed was the third wildest dog there. After the purchase of a training collar and practice, I know, like any dog, Jed is trainable; he already is making progress and can heel appropriately – a big change from the jerking and lunging at cats, squirrels, and other dogs that previously defined our walks.

I thought we were doing just great until Jed’s willfulness came out. He heeled, halted, and sat – but not where Preston wanted him to sit – on my left side, beside my feet. Instead, he pivoted and sat in front of me. He wasn’t jumping or straining, so I began with the praise. From the inside of our circle, Preston, in an affable manner, called me out: “No, momma, make him sit where you want him to sit; not where Jed wants to sit. He’s got you: He’s the alpha dog.”

The Alpha Dog! I knew it. Jed has much to learn. The training, Preston reminded us, is as much for the owners as it is the dog.

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