Who is the alpha dog?

Now we have two dogs, we have the problem with Tyson, our seven year old border collie cross dalmatian and Tilly, our jack russell terrier establishing who is alpha dog. Me and my fiance cannot work out who the alpha dog is. They are giving mixed messages.

Both of them seem to get on with each other but they do have a few issues with one another. This normally occurs when we play ball with them. Something that needs to be stopped in the house as they tend to snap at each other and for the safety of Miss A, who may one day get in the way as she LOVES playing ball with Tilly. It seems that Tyson hates not getting the ball and hates Tilly getting it sometimes. Not always but if they both get to the ball together then Tyson, yes our soppy dog mouths Tilly and pins her to the floor so that he gets to the ball. Noone is hurt during this little tiff. Tilly does fight back a little but it is over within seconds.

This causes Tilly to be scared of Tyson, however after their play she does growl at him. I think she is warning him to not come near her. He doesn’t like this and usually backs away. The same happens when we have a snack. All dogs are out of the room when we eat dinner so I think we need to stop having snacks when they are in the same room. I think Tilly is warning him not to grab the leftover food (not that there is any) as it is all hers.

So I really don’t know who the alpha dog is and it is rather important that we know this as we need to make sure that the ranking isn’t hindered by us. I have read elsewhere that you need to, for example, put the lead on the alpha dog first and feed the alpha dog first for all to be well.

So I am asking you, who do you think the alpha dog is?

Tyson is seven and Tilly is two. Tilly has been with us for three weeks now.

At the end of the day both dogs get on so well with Miss A and that is the most important thing. You should see Tilly and the way she looks and interacts with Miss A. She loves her. She loves Miss A coming into our bedroom in the morning. Her tail wags like mad!


  1. Red Rose Mummy says:

    Tyson should be the alpha dog. He is male and older and would be the pack leader if there was just two of them. He is also the dog in situ, Tilly is newcomer It sounds like Tilly is submitting when she lets him have the ball but is confused afterwards. You need to reinforce Tyson’ s status in the ways you have described. The closeness to A that Tilly has probably reflects the position she should be among towards the bottom of the pecking order.
    Red Rose Mummy recently posted..Saturday 26/1/2013 Cuddles with Daddy (87/365)My Profile

    • kelly says:

      My fiancé thought it was the female that is the alpha dog. Interesting. I agree that he should be the one as he is older and bigger. Thanks for the advice. Tilly is more affectionate and more needy and loving so I hope that this doesn’t make Tyson react! He doesn’t like a lot of fuss now he is older.

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.