How do you know you have an alpha?

Chelsea is very bossy and stubborn, she is also constantly trying to assert her dominance. While I realize these are general Sheepie traits- when do you know you have an Alpha?

I hear other breed owners refer to their pets as "alpha"- but I wonder how it is they know this- or are they just guessing? Are there particular traits alphas all exhibit.


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I was thinking this link might help out determining if you have an alpha. I hope it helps you. :wink: The test is meant for puppies, but maybe it will give you an idea about Chelsea. ... uppy_.html

Good luck :wink:
Stormi and co.

I don't think all OES have these traits - sounds like you have an Alpha on your hands!

I did that puppy test for both girls, and Dancer came up mostly 3's and Sky mostly 4's. It seems fairly accurate, except that I think Dancer is slightly more submissive than Sky, but not with Sky... They are both little love-bugs..... but sky is more confident and pushy about getting what she wants... Dancer is quieter and sneaks her way onto your lap, if that's possible, but she tries. LOL Sky just takes a flying leap across the coffee table and right onto my lap. LOL

The puppy appitude test is very well done.

Here's some other ways you can tell if your dog is Alpha in regards to other dogs.

They take the toys and food from other dogs with little or no resistance from the other dogs. (Unless they too are trying to establish they are the Alpha)

They always greet other dogs with the tail up, submissive ones always have their tail down. Watch the tails of the dogs to give you advance warning if a challenge may occur. If both dogs have their tails up they are both saying "I'm the leader".."No, I am".

If one dog lowers his tail he is then saying.."um okay you can be the boss".

Some dogs have no interest and just do the tail wagging or play stance when greeting another dog. The play stance is both feet spread out..rump up in the air..tail wagging. They are asking...come on lets play!!! Do you want to chase or be chased?

The dog that does the jowl licking to other dogs is showing puppy like behavior and submissiveness. (It's why our dogs lick our faces..they resort back to puppyhood submissiveness.)

Showing the belly is also a sign of submissiveness when greeting us or if challenged by another dog. Showing us their most vulnerable spot is a sign of trust but they also allow another dog to see this dog has no interest in fighting at all.

Anyway those are some of the things I watch out for at the dog park..especially the position of the dogs tail. Have a look next time and you will be amazed how much info you can get by viewing their body language.

Tail up..wants to be boss
Body is erect to appear to make themselves bigger.
Tail down, body is slumped to make themselves appear smaller.
Ears flat against the in protective mode..usually out of fear aggression.

Oh forgot about the humping..this is a sign of dominance and should never be allowed under any circumstances. The owner should immediately make his dog stop as it's not usually sexual, but telling another dog he is dominant over him. Some dogs are okay with it but many dogs rise to the challenge and start to fight. People usually chuckle when viewing this scene as they find it funny but it usually precedes a fight so best to pull your dog off.

Those are the things I can think of from the top of my head. Hope that helps. I should mention that although Merlin is Alpha in the household he isn't necessarily an Alpha dog at the dog park as other dogs he has come into contact with have established their dominance over him previously.

Dogs have a choice if they come across the winner or dominant dog they've met before. The can either choose not to back down and fight again (This can be really difficult if both dogs are very dominant and neither is willing to let the other be Alpha as they will always fight.)

Or in like both Merlin and Panda's case the dominant dog growled and snarled attacking them. They both got down in the belly up position and let him know they honored his dominance and from that moment on - it's never a problem. They always continue to play with this dog.

The dog whom really concerns me is one that breaks their social rules. The one that attacks another dog and continues to go for them even when they have shown the belly up. This kind of dog (can be like a person kicking another person when they are down) is an aggressive dog and not just dominant. There is a difference!!! Showing whom is Alpha amongst themselves is completely normal while aggression is not.

Lastly, even in a wolf pack if a leader is deemed too aggressive the other members of the pack will get together and oust him. Dogs like wolves respect a strong leader but not one that continuously harms them.


Oh sheesh!! Just remembered many of our boys/girls have no tails at all - like Merlin. (Panda has a little stub so I can see the wiggle) In that case look at their body language and position of their ears. :lol:

I didn't know about the puppy evaluation test- how helpful is that?! I wish I had known about it when we chose her.

The good news is that Chelsea scored 5 threes and 5 fives on the evaluation, so she is in the running for a good companion animal, and not an "alpha". I am thinking of her behavior toward others in class and at the park based on what you had to offer Marianne, I definitely know she's not an "alpha"- The first time the puppies were allowed to have play-time in her puppy class, a couple of the little ones started running after Chelsea and barking, she took off like a jackrabbit and went running around the circle as fast as she could to get away from those little yippers! She had a look of sheer terror on her face, her ears were pinned back and flopping as she ran toward us (my husband and I)- just like the timid little thing she is, she ran behind daddy's legs and cowered. NOT an aggressive dog.

Thanks for putting my mind at ease- I think I've figured out the problem, she's 14 months old and she is spoiled absolutely rotten. Her behavior issue are my fault and now we will just have to train them out of her! :D

Thanks for the input and advice!

I don't know if I really believe the puppy test. When we picked Frank up all the pups were sleeping (it was noon) and as soon as the breeder woke them up and brought them out, Frank seemed uninterested in us and immediately turned around and went back into his kennel. I would say upon meeting him he was mostly 6's which means by the chart that he's uninterested in people, unaffectionate and independent. I would say he exhibits none of these qualities although he has slightly more independence than my last OES. All of the pups had just eaten, and there had been a few people before me picking up their pups, so how your pup reacts may be circumstantial.
I didn't do the puppy test when picking up my girls, I just did it a while ago out of curiosity. I don't know how accurate that really is since it is intended for when you are picking a pup out and it doesn't yet know you... but it was interesting
Our JuJu joined our home with a 4 year old female Border Collie mix(rescued from the pound). We thought Jenny our Border Collie would be dominant because she was older and well you know...this was "her home". It only took a while until Jules established dominance. Jenny will keep trying every now and then to be "alpha", but she loses. Sometimes we call Jules "Bossy Flossy". I think being bossy and stubborn is in their nature. They are somewhat "control freaks" and like to have their people and animals where they want them. :lol:
Its interesting that Chelsea is Alpha, since Pirate is so NOT alpha! But I guess when you live with mean ol' Molly, you never really get a chance to be top dog!

Deborah, Chelsea's Auntie
Hmmm...since we picked Merlin out of his litter when he was about 3-4 weeks old and looked like a guinea pig...there was no testing any of them. But...Merlin was the only puppy that relaxed when I picked him up.
And how on earth do you do the tail test when most of these guys have their tails docked! LOL! :roll:
Chelsea was, oddly enough, the quiet one in the litter, my son and I have oft debated this, he was leaning toward a more active female, I chose Chelsea because she had a square head and looked intelligent (plus she had a curly rear end that was IRRESISTABLE) Looking back, as crazy as she is, I think she had worn herself out greeting the other "lookers" that day, by the time we got there she was soo pooped she could barely raise her head, the other puppies had 'paced' themselves and were more able to show off.

She is certianly always trying to assert her dominance, but not over the traditional "alpha" stuff like food, toys, etc. She is really protective of all of us and of course feels the need to break up any hugging or arguing going on amongst the human memebers of the family- always in the middle, but my first OES did this too and I think it's more OEs trait than any signs of "alpha" behavior.

I'm still curious though as to how people determine they have brought an "alpha" into their midst. I guess I figure I'm the bossy momma alpha in our family, and any dog-child is going to have to fall in line with the rest of the pack - certainly will have to fall in line behind me. Chelsea challenges this from time to time, but she is young, and exuberant, in the dog pack she would get "smacked" down by the real alpha, so I do that from time to time, not physically, but verbally and in dog language ( I growl at her and I stand in her way physically to let her know who is boss- sounds crazy- but it works, she immediately backs down and starts licking in the air until she reaches me and can lick me).

Anybody else have to do this? Just curious.

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