We have a 4-year-old greyhound female who does not see our 8-year-old son as an alpha. She is not aggressive toward him (or anyone else) in any way, she just ignores him when he gives him a command. Any tips?
I would tongue-in-cheek say "get a different breed of dog"... but that would be less than helpful.
Have him feed her and be "the great provider of all things wonderful" for a while? Have him give her simple commands and treats for complying (but remember not to make a "cookie monster"!)?
Is he honestly being abrupt and blunt with his commands? Or does he use the same tone of voice he uses when you ask if his room is clean so he can dash out the door with a friend? "Of cooOOurssse it Iisss".
I have to wonder. Why WOULD a dog view an 8-year-old as Alpha? What exactly does that mean to you? Should a dog automatically view all humans as leaders, regardless of training? That's expecting quite a lot.
My own dog, Esther, was with us for six months before she recognized me as someone worthy of noticing at all, and I was solely responsible for her care and feeding. The best dog I've ever had, or will ever had, viewed my (then) young children as creatures to be treasured and protected, but not necessarily respected or obeyed without question.
Dogs "disobey" for lots of reasons, and most often it has NOTHING to do with whether they view a person as "alpha".
Usually it's because they don't understand what's being asked of them. What kind of "commands" is the dog ignoring? Are these also commands that you give the dog and the dog obeys? Does your child give the commands in the same situations? In the same tone of voice? Standing or sitting makes a HUGE difference in whether your dog understands what's being asked of it.
Once a dog KNOWS a command (and the thing you have to understand about dog learning is the concept of "threshold" -- a dog who can reliably sit in your distraction-free bathroom can't be expected to sit on the street in front of a dog and three small children who are chasing a cat. Even small changes in a dog's environment affect his ability to perform.) what do you do to "enforce" it? There are roughly two things you can do in this scenario. You can use corrections to communicate with the dog that not performing a behavior results in punishment, and that the only way to avoid punishment is to perform commands, or you can use rewards (food, toys, access to the environment, etc) to communicate with the dog that obeying commands is the only way for the dog to gain access to all good things in life.
I would start having your son take her for her daily walks. Have her feed him, but get him to ask the dog to do things for him first (IE -- want dinner? Okay, sit!). Teach the dog that if she wants to have anything fun in life (a nap on the couch, a new toy, going to the bathroom) she needs to listen to your son first. I would not recommend using corrections in this situation unless you are 100% confident that you can tell the difference between a dog who is "choosing to disobey" and a dog that is unsure what's being asked of it and you have consulted with a professional trainer. I would absolutely not recommend that your son uses corrections on the dog.
Many dogs I've met only recognize commands from one person - it could be tone of voice, or the way it's said. A couple of our family dogs didn't pay attention to me as a kid, but were very quick to listen to the deep voice of my father.
You can work on this with your dog by having all members of the family give commands and expecting the dog to follow.
I too agree with the tone of voice suggestions. Lady wont listen to any high pitched or happy commands. She only listens if you very firmly tell her what to do, no niceness with this girl.
On the other hand, Roonie shuts down if you use a stern tone with him. Try to get your 8 year old to use the tone of voice that works best with your dog.
Thank you all for your responses. We will work on feeding, treats, and tone of voice. As far as walking, he can join us when she is being walked but is not allowed to hold the leash. She is a retired racing greyhound, weighs 10 pounds more than him, and there are a lot of bunnies around here. Although she hasn't shown much interest in them and is excellent on the leash, its not a risk I want to take.
Have you thought of signing your dog up for an obedience class and having your son handle her during the class? Look around for trainers who welcome kids and are used to dealing with kids, just something like fun like a basic obedience or trick class. Does she like to play fetch or anything like that? If so, have your son play with her and work obedience into the play (sit or down for a ball throw). More than likely she just doesn't have enough of a relationship with him to want to listen to him. My dogs take commands from my 3 year old niece, but won't take commands from her mom (my sister). They just have more of a relationship with Sophie, she plays with them, gives them treats, helps me walk them (we hold the leash together). My sister while she sees them just as much doesn't do more than pat them on the head once in awhile.