Originally Posted by DobeOwnrX2
The reason I say to forget the academics is because I used to be one. I studied in a scientific field that has no relevance here I guess. Let me tell you about science, and studies, and the rest of it. A vast majority of research is done by private interest with private money. That said you have to read all of the data. What you might read in a report is biased no matter how much jargon and calculations and whatever. Statistical analysis is a poor basis for conjecture or hypothesis. In short, I would be very careful about quoting to no end study after study. Animals cannot communicate in a cogent/coherent method that we can interpret in a responsible scientific context. If they could talk they would. I can observe and make conclusions from nothing more than a few cooked up statistics. I am reminded here of akums razor; it is a scientific principal which states that 'the simplist explination, is often the most likely'. I am not knocking science down, just opening eyes. These people are not gods, they are just as biased as you or me. Thats why there is disagreement within science. Nothing is ever proven in science, you can only disprove hypothesis'. I guess my stance is this; Dogs are genetically derived wolves or other wild dogs. Therefore I guess to me the simplest explination is probably the right one. Dogs operate within a pack mentality. There is no 'parent' relationship here. Dogs see us as other members of this pack, and so they from time to time will challenge or rally for position within this pack. Do you really beilieve that a dog has the intelligence to tell the difference between a human pack and a dog pack? Dog's don't have human emotions or drives as we understand them. My dogs have no 'behavioral problems' (please get over yourself). I don't hit or yell at my dogs. When they challenge me I take a firm hold of their scruffs (LIKE THEIR MOTHER WOULD) and place them in a submissive position. It doesn't happen often (can't remember last time it did) These are not my methods they are handed down to me from generations of breeders and people in my life. These peoples methods are TRUE TO FORM. They are practical tools, and they don't harm the animal. I stand by my statement. Be very careful before quoting all of these studies, look for legitimate peer reviewed material, and look for all of the data not just the numbers the authors have selected.
Sorry, the possibility of scientific bias does not somehow ameliorate personal bias. Are we even trying to ague this?
I respect that eliminating all bias is
impossible, but I will take over 40 years of accountable scientific study (not sterile statistics, thousands of hours of observation both of wild canids and domestic pets) over an individual's opinion. Just because everyone used to "know" that the sun revolved around the earth didn't make it any more true.
Dogs can communicate in measurable ways. We've been studying calming signals and body language in dogs for a long time now. It's a more basic understanding, but we can still draw reliable conclusions from them, especially when we corroborate them by measuring levels of stress and pleasure hormones present in a dog's bloodstream.
Seeing as I (and ethologists) just defined all true canid packs as family groups, I am a little confused by your assertions that pack theory must be "the simplest explanation" for dog behavior, despite the fact that dogs do not form family groups. To me, the simplest explanation is that dogs are dogs, and we shouldn't try to understand their behavior based on another animal (even a closely related one). We should study dogs to understand dog behavior.
Let me give you another example of how comparative zoology can run you into problems. The genetic difference between Wolves and Dogs is the same as the genetic difference between Chimpanzees and Bonobos (roughly 98%).
Chimpanzees = patriarchal, ritualized aggression, omnivory (sometimes cannibalism)
Bonobos = matriarchal, ritualized peaceful sexual displays, vegetarianism.
But they're both apes right? Dogs and wolves are both canids right?
As to dog intelligence, there is absolutely proof that dogs recognize us as separate entities from other dogs. Dogs have two different sets of similar social behavior, one for other dogs, and one for people. They have a socialization period twice as long as any other canid, to accommodate socialization to us as well as their own species. Dogs are able to recognize and read emotions in human facial expressions. Even other primates can't do this with us.
Traditional training is younger than you might think, but it actually pre-dates pack theory. In the first World War, German soldiers trained dogs for the military (part of where the importance of hierarchy with dogs comes from). When the war was over, these men simply opened dog training schools, as formal training did not really exist yet for dogs (ever wonder why we get dogs to heel on the left? it's because originally your right hand needed to be free for your rifle :P). Decades later, when the (faulty) wolf studies came to light, pack theory was simply piggybacked onto the existing training framework. Only now, you weren't correcting dogs to keep them subservient like a good soldier (where dogs were supposedly happiest), you were correcting them because it's what an "alpha wolf" would do.
You asked for opinions on both sides of the issue, but became defensive when I offered mine based on my experience and research. You also kindof pulled a fast one by calling into question my sources without providing sources for yourself. You are trying to shift the burden of proof back to me without fully addressing most of my argument?