"I am the alpha bitch!"
Oh my! Now I've gone and been vulgar! But I mean it quite literally as in "I am the top dog and female". There are several ways to be a an Alpha B and all of it are stuff my kindergarten teacher taught me never to do...
First off, who eats first is of utmost importance in Dog World. As the Alpha B, I get to eat first. It follows therefore that if I expect Milo to be obedient to Alpha Dog (aka The Husband), Beta Bitch (aka The Daughter), and Gamma Dog (aka Little Boy) these lovely people should all get to eat before Milo. To this end, I have institutionalised a rather ridiculous meal time habit in order to communicate to Milo that we are alpha and he ain't.
Before every meal, everyone troops out into the rooftop terrace holding a tiny plate each laden with 2 pieces of protein. We walk leisurely around nibbling on one piece of protein and Gamma Dog (aka Little Boy), a person with immense initiative, smacks his lips and licks his chops for good measure. When Milo gets to close to our plates, we growl "No!" whereupon Milo retreats to a respectful distance and watches us politely. Then, we each deign to take the other piece of protein from our plates and place it on the floor in a neat pile. If he approaches before we say "Come!", he gets growled at again and stared down. Then we leave him to enjoy his titbits whilst we all troop downstairs to eat our meal as humans normally do.
It is very amusing because it works like a charm. Willingly, Milo now rolls over to expose his neck and belly to Little Boy... and Little Boy is such a gentle child (having always been gently treated) that I feared very much that Milo would not heed him at all. And Milo no longer nips at Little Boy.
Next, when I play games with Milo, I will place my arms around his neck. Us humans read that as a bear hug, and it is a gesture of friendship and equality (unless of course a human male hugs a human female without permission). Milo however, responds by rolling on his back and exposing his neck and belly to me telling me that I am dominant. I respond by placing my hand on his throat. This happens about 3 times every day... and whaddaya know... I have now a dog that pulls back from whatever he is doing whenever I clear my throat at him.
Like I said, if I did this to friends in kindergarten, I would have gotten my ears soundly pulled. So, I made sure I told Little Boy that leadership of people follows quite different rules than doggie leadership. For one, it wouldn't do to swagger in front of friends, plate in hand, saying "I have yummy food and you don't!". And then, one doesn't go around putting hands at people's throats so that they'll toe the line. And then, if I keep clearing my throat in polite company, my irreverent friends may just pool funds together and buy me a spittoon! Little Boy, of course, rolls around laughing and tells me "Mom! I know that! I'm not that dumb you know!"
But well... I just had to make sure.