Our guy is 9 now, getting very gray, but he gets plenty of exercise, play, and we try to feed him a good diet, so he's spry and playful still. He's a rescue dog, and we were told he was a collie-shepherd mix that might get to 100+ pounds. He stopped at 50-55#, but was so leggy and fast that I thought maybe he was part greyhound (and lab?). Swabbed him, sent it off to the CSI lab, turns out to be collie and poodle, but if you see standard poodles, they are leggy and high-cut. He can still jet, but he doesn't run as long as he used to.
Being a rescue, you don't know the back story. He can be leery of men, though seemingly less so now than even a few years ago. But he's definitely Daddy's boy. On the alpha thing, I think part of it is vocal: I can be better as drill sergeant. But we did spend a lot of time training and reiniforcing training, and still do so. He's good off-leash, and will wait at the end of the block, sitting until I give the signal. The vocal and gesture signals have been greatly reduced over the years, like an old married couple. If I want him to stop I might just say Uh-puh-pup-up, and the tone conveys it all. And if I want to signal that it's OK to cross, I might just point a finger or say OK. Some of it is context; that OK would be meaningless in other situations.
The first year of training was tough. He's always been a gentle, mellow soul, but he had your basic puppy ADHD, and it took a while for us to learn each other. There was just this time when it all clicked and I think I sort of relaxed a bit, instead of being textbook. So much of a dog's life is comfortable routine, the familiar, and we both enjoy the routine. If I say, Do you want to go on an adventure? he knows he's getting a ride in the truck as I go on errands. He knows that if I'm wearing a baseball cap that there's a good chance we're going on a walk, and that this will be preceded by the game of him jumping up and trying to steal my hat off my head. When I'm cooking dinner and he brings a tuggy toy and drops it at my feet, he knows I'll give him maximum drama. Get-that-stinking-rodent-outta-here-I-don't-ever-wanna-see-it-again! I toss it out, he brings it back, laughing and wagging with expectation. I play rougher and more over-the-top vocally; Mrs. FW plays nicer and more reassuringly. He tailors his level of aggression to who he plays with.
A lot of the alpha thing is intuitive, for both dog and human. Especially strong dogs can be trying if you don't have matching strength; I keep the pit Astro and our boy's best bud, a shepherd mix named Boss, on a literal short leash when we walk them, until we get in synch and I can redirect their attention from all-over-the-place energy to focusing on cues from the leash and vocals. It KILLS me to see people who YANK their dogs, and I'll tell them about it.
A way a lone a last a loved a long the ... riverrun, past Eve and Adam's ...