Go Back   Pet forum for dogs cats and humans - Pets.ca > Discussion Groups - mainly cats and dogs > Dog training - dog behavior

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old May 4th, 2012, 10:16 AM
DobeOwnrX2's Avatar
DobeOwnrX2 DobeOwnrX2 is offline
Junior Member
 
Join Date: May 2012
Location: Edmonton
Posts: 16
Question Do dogs crave the Alpha role?

Hey Everyone. I always assumed that dogs displayed dominant behavior. I had also assumed that dogs engaged in 'alpha-seeking' amongst themselves in multiple dog situations. A few posts have made me wonder I guess. I am not the most experienced dog trainer, not by a longshot. But I have to trust the knowledge handed down to me by people whos dog knowledge is true in form.

Just looking for opinions here. Here is mine. I think its very obvious when you forget what the academics say and just look at dogs, you see the wolf come out of them in pack situations. I have witnessed my own dogs rally for position, and one usually comes out on top. I have also witnessed said dogs rally for my position or if not that then my partners position within the pack.

This said I would like to initiate an open look at this idea. Let's hear some opinions on either side.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old May 4th, 2012, 10:23 AM
marko's Avatar
marko marko is offline
Administrator - Pet lover
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Montreal Quebec Canada
Posts: 10,982
As far as I know, not all dogs challenge each other for "authority" or "rank".
Many dogs are comfortable with their "lesser status".
__________________
Please tactfully EDUCATE or IGNORE posters you don't agree with.
Please PM me & Include URLs and post #'s for any issues and it's my pleasure to help.
I'm firm - but fair. Mind the Rules and enjoy your stay.
Newcomers FAQ - How do I post on this BB?
Pet facebook group
Check out the Pet podcast
Follow me on Twitter
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old May 4th, 2012, 11:38 AM
sugarcatmom's Avatar
sugarcatmom sugarcatmom is offline
Senior Contributor
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Calgary, AB
Posts: 5,289
I'm not a fan of the whole dominance theory schtick. I like this article for a better explanation of the social lives of dogs: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/...cept-dominance
__________________
"To close your eyes will not ease another's pain." ~ Chinese Proverb

“We must not refuse to see with our eyes what they must endure with their bodies.” ~ Gretchen Wyler
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old May 4th, 2012, 12:21 PM
Goldfields's Avatar
Goldfields Goldfields is offline
Senior Contributor
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Australia
Posts: 3,282
My foundation female here, and I'm talking back when all my dogs were Australian Cattle Dogs, was the alpha dog, the gaurd dog too until my first male was old enough to take over. Then she became everyone's friend, almost apologising for his gaurding behaviour. We lost him early so that female took on the roll again until my next male was mature, then she was the nice one again. LOL. There's a saying that covers that actually, it's why have a dog and bark too?
I find that the true alpha doesn't have to assert himself, the rest just respect him. In my Shelties the alpha was a female, and the two wannabe alphas were her daughter and another sweet looking little blondie that appears to have a split personality. When I lost my beloved alpha girl the other two had a short battle, nothing serious, and it was the daughter that has became alpha. My sheltie boys are interesting. The one that is hypothyroid bears watching because he can fire up and is jealous and protective, however I notice he backs off quickly from the dog you'd consider the least threat, a gentle dog, smaller and older. I suspect the latter could be the true alpha in the pack. They're interesting to study.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old May 4th, 2012, 07:27 PM
millitntanimist's Avatar
millitntanimist millitntanimist is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Kitchener, ON
Posts: 129
Here's my

The problem with forgetting what the academics say and going with personal observation is that personal observation is so easily biased. It's very simple to diagnose "dominant" behavior in your dog when you are looking for it, even when there are other perfectly logical explanations. It blinds you to other possibilities because it is so amorphous and poorly defined.

For example, many people say that a dog who jumps up on them in greeting is 'dominant.' Problem is, this is a classically submissive gesture. Juvenile canids will run up and lick the mouths of family members returning from the hunt to stimulate regurgitation. As they mature, this licking behavior becomes a greeting. It's called an 'affiliation display.' Dogs also attempt to perform an approximation of this (it's buried in their genetic heritage) with us, it's just that our faces are so much higher from the ground . Hence, they jump.

It is not totally inaccurate to say that dogs display dominance and submission, its just that people have misappropriated it. These are part of dog communication, but they are not personality traits. You cannot say a dog is dominant (in ethological terms) because that is a misuse of the term. Dominance simply means " priority access to resources."
We want to say that a dog who shows dominant signals is a dominant dog, but all dogs regardless of social confidence use both dominant and submissive signals to communicate. You never have a dog that shows dominant signals all the time unless they are totally unsocialized or have serious behavior problems. The same goes for submission. It can happen, but this is the exception, not the rule and should not be mistaken for normal canine interaction.

I too watch my dogs. One of them displays much more dominant signals than the others in social interaction, and they usually defer to her at meal times and with specific toys. Yet, she lets one of our males mount her in play. She takes the worst sleeping spot available when we crash for the night. She will let our smallest wrestle toys and bones away from her, when she could easily overpower him. If there were some underlying pack hierarchy, logic would dictate that, as the dominant dog, she would always have access to "the best of the best" in the house. That is simply not the case.

The biggest problem with dominance/pack theory is that it utilizes comparative zoology. It attempts to use (outdated) models of wolf behavior to explain the behavior of modern dogs. It's a bit like using Victorian knowledge of chimpanzees to explain modern human social behavior.

A note on wolves: Dominance theory was born out of a mid 1900's study on wolf behavior. We know now that wolves are family groups, the "alphas'" are simply the breeding male and female, and the rest of the pack their offspring. There are no dominance struggles for leadership because no son or daughter will overthrow one parent to mate with another, it's ludicrous.
Where we got the idea that this happens is from said study, where we took a group of unrelated individuals, put them in close quarters under stress, and watched as they fought after we totally disrupted their normal social system.
Until more studies (by some of the same scientists) were done with wild wolves in the 1970's, we erroneously applied this theory of a rigid social hierarchy maintained by aggression not only to wolves, but dogs and all other canids as well.


Regardless, it's a mistake to equate wolf pack behavior to dogs because their social systems are very different. Wolf packs exist solely based on the availability of large game (interestingly, in areas where large herbivores are unavailable, wolves actually don't pack). Wolves are monogamous hunters, their packs exist to co-ordinate large hunts and rear successive generations of offspring.
Dogs, on the other hand, are non-monogamous, and primarily scavengers. They form what are called "loose associational groups" whose social dynamics are far more fluid than wolf packs. Because the relationships are not famillial, members come and go as they please. There is often no one "dominant" dog, rather, many dogs may take on a more "dominant" role on different occasions, or even between tasks. They don't need to co-operate for hunting. Males and females do not stay together to raise pups. Some feral dogs live completely alone. So why do we insist that dogs "pack" at all when all the criteria of other packing canids are not met?

Whether or not you want to subscribe to the theory, there are a few reasons why I really try to discourage it in regards to training.

1. Dominance does not = aggression (this is one of the dangers of calling dominance a personality trait). Aggression is a distancing signal. The less confident a dog is, the more aggressive it is likely to be.
When a diagnosis of dominance is given to a dog, the only logical solution to that is to reduce that dog's dominance/increase your own. Right away, this sets you up in an antagonistic relationship with your dog. Every misbehavior is personally directed at you and is your failure to "be a leader" to your dog. The prescription for dominance is usually forced submission, and usually corrective. This will almost certainly exacerbate your dog's behavioral problem because aggression is almost always fear-based. Introducing corrections or intimidation to a fearful animal will increase their fear, not alleviate it.

2. It's not a real diagnosis. Even among people who believe in dominance, there is no clear definition of dominant behavior and what it constitutes. There is only personal observation.
Recently, we worked with someone who had a border collie who was becoming reactive to cyclists. She was worried he was showing dominance, based on the diagnosis of her dog walker. We calmly explained that this is simply a border collie displaying herding instincts. Herding instincts are hardwired. They are a fixed action pattern. No amount of 'dominance reduction' will change his drive to herd, it can only be re-directed. If she had tried to address his emotional arousal to bicycles with corrections, she may very well have turned excitement into real aggression (because bicycles will become a predictor of punishment).

3. It's misleading It creates a level of mysticism around both dog behavior and the trainer. Whenever something works well and the trainer cites their own "dominance," regardless of what mechanisms are really in play, they set the dog and the owners up to fail. There are a hundred reasons why a trainer can get a dog to perform where the owner's can't (the situation, their body language, a dog's level of shutdown, etc.). When these people try to reproduce the same training techniques (if they haven't been told the real mechanisms by which they work) they often have mixed or even regressive results and they have no recourse other than stepping up their level of correction. It doesn't give people the tools they need to deconstruct a situation, identify the triggers behind it, and come at it from multiple angles or with different techniques.

4. It's counter-productiveThere is no evidence that some of the more harmless dominance reduction exercises produce any change in behavior (other than simply altering a dog's expectation in a given scenario) and a wealth of evidence that some of the more intensive ones create behavioral problems.

In case you've read this far, here are a few of my favorite books and articles on the subject

http://www.nonlineardogs.com/socialorganisation.html
http://www.dogwelfarecampaign.org/why-not-dominance.php
http://drsophiayin.com/philosophy/do.../dominance.php
http://www.4pawsu.com/dogpsychology.htm
http://www.dogwise.com/itemdetails.cfm?ID=DTB1207
http://www.dogwise.com/itemdetails.cfm?ID=DTB700
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old May 4th, 2012, 09:30 PM
violagirl violagirl is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Canada
Posts: 90
Obviously I have read the same things as many on this board. I often have discussions with my "old school" dog training friend on the merits or demerits of the "dominance" issue.

I don't think most people who say they have "aggressive" dogs have truly dominant-aggressive dogs. They are fearful dogs.

I think dog/human interaction is much more, as has been described, of a parent-child relation. A parent does not have to resort to yelling and corporal punishment to establish their authority.

In dog/dog relationships there does seem to be a hierarchy. But it changes on what other dogs are around, where they are and how tired/excited everyone is at the time.

Example. My friend has an older dog and a year old puppy. When they come over, my dogs will growl and show teeth at the overly exuberant puppy who wants to get in their faces, but never do that to the older dog. When the puppy is calm he is allowed to get close. But he doesnt' seem to catch on very readily to dog language. I don't think my dogs are aggressive or dominant, even the oldest bitch who is even LESS tolerant than the others. They do not like the puppy in their face. I can understand that.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old May 4th, 2012, 10:46 PM
DobeOwnrX2's Avatar
DobeOwnrX2 DobeOwnrX2 is offline
Junior Member
 
Join Date: May 2012
Location: Edmonton
Posts: 16
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 don't know they are dogs and they don't know we are human. They don't understand species, only scents and other sensory information. As far as they are concerned we are just other things that smell different. 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. This is necessary (to assert the alpha position) to maintain the balance we have with our dogs (or any pet). The simple fact is that one of us is the alpha (or whatever you want to call it) and the others fall into line. If we deny this then we risk serious injury from said pets. Asserting the alpha position does not require violence, physical contact is not violence (my parents never hit me but when they were reprimanding me they would always be holding or embracing me). You can deal with dogs diplomatically or you can deal with them realistically. The latter is less time consuming and more effective in my opinion. 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. The bottom line for me is this. If my dog is challenging my dominion over him then it is my responsibility to take this challenge seriously. Muddying the water with all kinds of scientific jargon is irresponsible at best. Go with your gut, dogs rally for position in the wild why would it be any different in 'domesticated' environments. A dog doesn't know its in a human world (only we do) it carries out its behavior via a genetic road map. I don't like to make assumptions but I will bet there is yet to be any SOLID evidence that would prove otherwise.

Last edited by DobeOwnrX2; May 4th, 2012 at 11:42 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old May 5th, 2012, 12:42 AM
millitntanimist's Avatar
millitntanimist millitntanimist is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Kitchener, ON
Posts: 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by DobeOwnrX2 View Post
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?
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old May 5th, 2012, 09:04 AM
DobeOwnrX2's Avatar
DobeOwnrX2 DobeOwnrX2 is offline
Junior Member
 
Join Date: May 2012
Location: Edmonton
Posts: 16
Edited by Admin

These studies that you quote are based on such 'research'. Observing in an objective manor, means not making conjectures or truths out of such observations. You are reading into subjective material, animal psychology is not as credible as its human equivilant. We can interview human beings and communicated with them. You cannot observe and animal and be sure of anything.

Last edited by marko; May 5th, 2012 at 09:30 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old May 5th, 2012, 09:24 AM
marko's Avatar
marko marko is offline
Administrator - Pet lover
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Montreal Quebec Canada
Posts: 10,982
This is a fascinating discussion but let's keep it civil without personal attacks please. Rudeness kills learning and kills threads.
__________________
Please tactfully EDUCATE or IGNORE posters you don't agree with.
Please PM me & Include URLs and post #'s for any issues and it's my pleasure to help.
I'm firm - but fair. Mind the Rules and enjoy your stay.
Newcomers FAQ - How do I post on this BB?
Pet facebook group
Check out the Pet podcast
Follow me on Twitter
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old May 5th, 2012, 10:03 AM
millitntanimist's Avatar
millitntanimist millitntanimist is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Kitchener, ON
Posts: 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by DobeOwnrX2 View Post
Edited by Admin

These studies that you quote are based on such 'research'. Observing in an objective manor, means not making conjectures or truths out of such observations. You are reading into subjective material, animal psychology is not as credible as its human equivilant. We can interview human beings and communicated with them. You cannot observe and animal and be sure of anything.
There is no such field as animal psychology, we have ethology and behaviorism.
Calling an animal dominant or submissive is subjective because it is assuming psychology. Saying that an animal displays dominant or submissive behavior is both more correct and assumes nothing about the animal's personality.

I'm having a hard time accepting your argument that my information is more subjective when yours is anecdotal.
If you have any resources or studies of your own that directly refute the validity of my sources, by all means post them. I would be happy to read them. But we're not going to get much farther than this if your counter-argument to my information is to attack the credibility of my source material without proof. You can't just say a source is biased and dismiss it, first you have to prove the bias.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old May 5th, 2012, 10:41 AM
pbpatti's Avatar
pbpatti pbpatti is offline
Senior Contributor
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Edmonton
Posts: 2,862
Quote:
Originally Posted by millitntanimist View Post
There is no such field as animal psychology, we have ethology and behaviorism.
Calling an animal dominant or submissive is subjective because it is assuming psychology. Saying that an animal displays dominant or submissive behavior is both more correct and assumes nothing about the animal's personality.

I'm having a hard time accepting your argument that my information is more subjective when yours is anecdotal.
If you have any resources or studies of your own that directly refute the validity of my sources, by all means post them. I would be happy to read them. But we're not going to get much farther than this if your counter-argument to my information is to attack the credibility of my source material without proof. You can't just say a source is biased and dismiss it, first you have to prove the bias.
I have to thank you for the information that you provided here I found it very interesting. I have several Dog Trainers in my circle of friends and they all have their own opinions on aggressive/dominant dogs. I like to hear all sides and then choose what feels right for me. Not sure if this really relates to your topic but my
__________________
It Is What It Is
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old May 5th, 2012, 11:47 AM
sugarcatmom's Avatar
sugarcatmom sugarcatmom is offline
Senior Contributor
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Calgary, AB
Posts: 5,289
Quote:
Originally Posted by DobeOwnrX2 View Post
Taking the word of an amature obserationist over that of an relevant research scientist is appaling.
Relevant? Really? According to who?
__________________
"To close your eyes will not ease another's pain." ~ Chinese Proverb

“We must not refuse to see with our eyes what they must endure with their bodies.” ~ Gretchen Wyler

Last edited by hazelrunpack; May 5th, 2012 at 11:45 PM. Reason: Edited out reference to deleted comment
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old May 5th, 2012, 10:09 PM
Goldfields's Avatar
Goldfields Goldfields is offline
Senior Contributor
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Australia
Posts: 3,282
Quote:
Originally Posted by millitntanimist View Post
2. It's not a real diagnosis. Even among people who believe in dominance, there is no clear definition of dominant behavior and what it constitutes. There is only personal observation.
Recently, we worked with someone who had a border collie who was becoming reactive to cyclists. She was worried he was showing dominance, based on the diagnosis of her dog walker. We calmly explained that this is simply a border collie displaying herding instincts. Herding instincts are hardwired. They are a fixed action pattern. No amount of 'dominance reduction' will change his drive to herd, it can only be re-directed. If she had tried to address his emotional arousal to bicycles with corrections, she may very well have turned excitement into real aggression (because bicycles will become a predictor of punishment).
This is interesting. If not corrections, then what? How do you redirect that drive? And what do you term dominance reduction? I must admit I do find all the terms amusing because if you talk about herding instinct, the old farmers who actually had to work dogs every day wouldn't know what the heck these terms mean. If they saw a dog streaking past, Hell bent on heeling a cow it shouldn't, they'd hit it with a clod of dirt, give it a flick of the stock whip etc.. Curbs the dog's enthusiasm and doesn't make it aggressive, certainly makes it respect who is in charge, and most working dogs idolise their owners. Sometimes these debates make me think of how children aren't allowed to be punished nowadays, the world is not a better place because of it. Many children are growing up with no respect for others.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old May 5th, 2012, 11:48 PM
hazelrunpack's Avatar
hazelrunpack hazelrunpack is offline
Moderator
Chopper Challenge Champion, Mini KickUps Champion, Bugz Champion, Snakeman Steve Champion, Shape Game Champion, Mumu Champion, Mouse Race Champion
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Just east of the Hazelnut Patch, Wisconsin
Posts: 49,691
If the rudeness continues, this thread will surely be closed and that would be a shame. Keep in mind that everyone has the right to an opinion and may give it as long as it is presented civilly. Please leave personal attacks out of the discussion.
__________________
"We are--each of us--dying; it's how we live in the meantime that makes the difference."

"It's not what you gather, but what you scatter that tells what kind of life you have lived!"

"Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle."
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old May 11th, 2012, 12:42 PM
tenderfoot's Avatar
tenderfoot tenderfoot is offline
Senior Contributor - Expert
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Boulder, Colorado
Posts: 1,249
I love this topic and here is how we feel.
We live with a large pack of dogs and are constantly introducing new dogs for days or weeks at a time. This gives us a consistent opportunity to observe the dynamics of an ever changing pack.
We are not fans of speaking about 'dominance' or 'alpha' because it tweaks the human brain too much. It does exist but not in every environment or within every animal. Most families have parents who call the shots and set the rules and boundaries for that family, but kids should not be in charge and teenagers shouldn't be telling the parents what to do. But all families have different ways of implementing the rules of the houses: some are militant, some are more low key in how they maintain balance in their homes, some homes have no rules what so ever and typically might suffer for it as their children grow and test their world.
Dogs are very similar. Young dogs need guidance, discipline, rules and boundaries in order to learn their place in the world and how to get along. Remember that a pack should strive for balance and harmony in order to live as stress free a life as possible. The more clear the structure of the pack is the easier it is for every member to know the rules. The less clear the rules and boundaries are the more likely the members are to constantly test each other = less harmony. Structure is determined by the leaders of the group.
Alpha (dont like that word) roles can change in a heart beat and change within each environment. Think of your own home, you might be in charge of your hobby room in the house but your spouse is in charge of the kitchen. One dog might be in charge of the other dogs behavior in the house but not outside, when another dog takes over. So 'who' is in charge can change with the environment.
We tend to describe the whole situation as this... there is a ball in the home with the word LEADER on it. The person needs to be carrying this ball at all times. But because people are so easily distracted they drop the ball all of the time. The dog is always watching who is holding the ball, and if it gets forgotten then they are ready to pick it up at anytime. There are different kinds of dogs who will respond to the ball in different ways. There are dogs who are ready to steal the ball at any chance, in fact they will try to get you to give it up - sometimes with aggression. There are other dogs who are happy to take the ball from you but not willing to get aggressive for it. There are dogs who simply pick up the ball because the person stinks at carrying it. There are dogs who take the ball because no one else is wiling to, and there are dogs who really don't want the ball but understand that someone must carry it so they do so reluctantly. Each dog will carry the ball in their own way, some are good at it and others are not. Few dogs are born to be great leaders and few dogs really want the job. Leadership comes with lots of responsibility and not many dogs are good at it. Thats when bad behaviors show up. A truly good leader is calm and benign, and their very presence exudes leadership - thats what a good human leader needs to emulate.
The rule that does hold true in all situations is someone needs to be in charge and that someone should be a human. Heck, we have the bigger brains (not always the smarter ones though ). The dogs need to be in the habit of looking to the human for the answers and the human needs to be ready with an answer or the dogs will stop checking in.
I figure everyone talks about dominance and alphas because they want to understand their dogs better, but the simple answer is if your dog looks to you for advice before making a decision then most of your problems are solved ahead of time. Be a confident leader and you will have a confident pack.
__________________
Love Them & Lead Them,
~Elizabeth & Doug
www.TenderfootTraining.com
Dog Training the Way Nature Intended
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old May 12th, 2012, 04:00 PM
millitntanimist's Avatar
millitntanimist millitntanimist is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Kitchener, ON
Posts: 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by Goldfields View Post
This is interesting. If not corrections, then what? How do you redirect that drive? And what do you term dominance reduction? I must admit I do find all the terms amusing because if you talk about herding instinct, the old farmers who actually had to work dogs every day wouldn't know what the heck these terms mean. If they saw a dog streaking past, Hell bent on heeling a cow it shouldn't, they'd hit it with a clod of dirt, give it a flick of the stock whip etc.. Curbs the dog's enthusiasm and doesn't make it aggressive, certainly makes it respect who is in charge, and most working dogs idolise their owners. Sometimes these debates make me think of how children aren't allowed to be punished nowadays, the world is not a better place because of it. Many children are growing up with no respect for others.
You work sub-threshold around distractions to build your dog's attention. You work on self-control exercises to give them emotional stability when they are presented with their triggers. You build the value of a toy reward that you can redirect the dog's drive onto.
For example, that client's dog is obcessed with his chuck-it toy. When they are around his triggers, if they bring it out, he becomes completely unreative and just goes after the toy. He is transferring his herding drive onto a more appropriate target. If they condition it properly, seeing his triggers will become a predictor for a game of chuck-it and he will return to them like a cue.
This is the same principle by which we trained our dog and male-reactive girl in my profile pic. If we come up to strange people or dogs in the woods on a walk, she will run back to us un-cued because she expects a round of frisbee to start. She will also bring said frisbee to the strangers, even large men who she is still careful of, as a way to break the ice.

You say "love their owner" I say appeasement gestures. I don't mean to sound crude but I be very deferential too if I was worried about getting smacked with a stock whip. That, and I would probably learn it was safe to chase cows as long as my person wasn't around because when I'm alone no-one smacks me

Your last statement is a little too much. Positive punishment is statistically the the slowest and worst way to change behavior, and has nothing to do with the "state" of today's youth. A good example of positive punishment (something that occurs after a behavior that is intended to decrease it) is a speeding ticket. How many people get 1 speeding ticket (or even 50 speeding tickets) and never speed again? Exactly. That's how effective positive punishment is.
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old May 12th, 2012, 04:32 PM
millitntanimist's Avatar
millitntanimist millitntanimist is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Kitchener, ON
Posts: 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by tenderfoot View Post
I love this topic and here is how we feel.
We live with a large pack of dogs and are constantly introducing new dogs for days or weeks at a time. This gives us a consistent opportunity to observe the dynamics of an ever changing pack.
We are not fans of speaking about 'dominance' or 'alpha' because it tweaks the human brain too much. It does exist but not in every environment or within every animal. Most families have parents who call the shots and set the rules and boundaries for that family, but kids should not be in charge and teenagers shouldn't be telling the parents what to do. But all families have different ways of implementing the rules of the houses: some are militant, some are more low key in how they maintain balance in their homes, some homes have no rules what so ever and typically might suffer for it as their children grow and test their world.
Dogs are very similar. Young dogs need guidance, discipline, rules and boundaries in order to learn their place in the world and how to get along. Remember that a pack should strive for balance and harmony in order to live as stress free a life as possible. The more clear the structure of the pack is the easier it is for every member to know the rules. The less clear the rules and boundaries are the more likely the members are to constantly test each other = less harmony. Structure is determined by the leaders of the group.
Alpha (dont like that word) roles can change in a heart beat and change within each environment. Think of your own home, you might be in charge of your hobby room in the house but your spouse is in charge of the kitchen. One dog might be in charge of the other dogs behavior in the house but not outside, when another dog takes over. So 'who' is in charge can change with the environment.
We tend to describe the whole situation as this... there is a ball in the home with the word LEADER on it. The person needs to be carrying this ball at all times. But because people are so easily distracted they drop the ball all of the time. The dog is always watching who is holding the ball, and if it gets forgotten then they are ready to pick it up at anytime. There are different kinds of dogs who will respond to the ball in different ways. There are dogs who are ready to steal the ball at any chance, in fact they will try to get you to give it up - sometimes with aggression. There are other dogs who are happy to take the ball from you but not willing to get aggressive for it. There are dogs who simply pick up the ball because the person stinks at carrying it. There are dogs who take the ball because no one else is wiling to, and there are dogs who really don't want the ball but understand that someone must carry it so they do so reluctantly. Each dog will carry the ball in their own way, some are good at it and others are not. Few dogs are born to be great leaders and few dogs really want the job. Leadership comes with lots of responsibility and not many dogs are good at it. Thats when bad behaviors show up. A truly good leader is calm and benign, and their very presence exudes leadership - thats what a good human leader needs to emulate.
The rule that does hold true in all situations is someone needs to be in charge and that someone should be a human. Heck, we have the bigger brains (not always the smarter ones though ). The dogs need to be in the habit of looking to the human for the answers and the human needs to be ready with an answer or the dogs will stop checking in.
I figure everyone talks about dominance and alphas because they want to understand their dogs better, but the simple answer is if your dog looks to you for advice before making a decision then most of your problems are solved ahead of time. Be a confident leader and you will have a confident pack.
I agree that we need to give our dogs rules and boundaries, but I don't have a need to bring any kind of leadership into that dialogue. Will dogs behave "badly" if they learn it gets them something rewarding? Absolutely, but so will any animal. Not because dogs are learning to "climb rank" but because animals are opportunists. If something works for them, or they think somehing might work for them, they'll do it. That's really all i need to know, about any animal, to start working with it.
I really doubt that it's calculated to the point that your dog is waiting and watching your every move for the slim chance that you're going to slip up and give the game away. That whole bit rankles me a little, it assumes that because we are so trumped up on our own importance that everything else must be too. I do think we are very significant to our dogs, but I also think a large part of their experience excludes us.
I like breaking things down with learning theory, because you can leave the debate behind a bit. Anything will repeat rewarding behavior and decrease unrewarding behavior, this is how all animals make choices about their actions and their environment.
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old May 12th, 2012, 10:31 PM
tenderfoot's Avatar
tenderfoot tenderfoot is offline
Senior Contributor - Expert
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Boulder, Colorado
Posts: 1,249
Exactly!!
Dogs do what works and when it works they do it more - just like kids. Unfortunately many people don't see how they are rewarding their dogs for poor manners. Just looking at a dog when he whines can reinforce whining - it got the persons attention -it worked so now they whine more.
Parents, adults and teachers lead the way to learning for children - just like we lead the way for our animals so we can all live in harmony. And because animals all speak the same language it is so important that humans pay more attention over all. There are so many opportunities to teach, to learn and to understand each other. Unfortunately many people are so busy with life they forget to pay attention to the little things. We have learned through our work with dogs, cats, horses and birds that everything you do matters and while it isn't always a competition to rise to the top it is about maintaining clear communication based on love, trust and respect, and yes we believe someone should be the decision maker, just like someone needs to lead children to become good members of society.
__________________
Love Them & Lead Them,
~Elizabeth & Doug
www.TenderfootTraining.com
Dog Training the Way Nature Intended
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old May 12th, 2012, 11:53 PM
Rgeurts's Avatar
Rgeurts Rgeurts is offline
Senior Contributor
Tetris Champion, Cell-Out Champion
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Alberta, Canada
Posts: 1,964
Quote:
Originally Posted by Goldfields View Post
Sometimes these debates make me think of how children aren't allowed to be punished nowadays, the world is not a better place because of it. Many children are growing up with no respect for others.
Quote:
Originally Posted by millitntanimist View Post
Y
Your last statement is a little too much. Positive punishment is statistically the the slowest and worst way to change behavior, and has nothing to do with the "state" of today's youth. A good example of positive punishment (something that occurs after a behavior that is intended to decrease it) is a speeding ticket. How many people get 1 speeding ticket (or even 50 speeding tickets) and never speed again? Exactly. That's how effective positive punishment is.
As for the training and alpha issues, I can barely manage my Nookie, so I have no comments on any of that. But I do have to say I agree, wholeheartedly, with GF on this one.
__________________
"Obey my dog!" - Mugatu

"Who can believe that there is no soul behind those luminous eyes!" ~ Theophile Gautier


"Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole" - Ok... whoever said this has never had a sick or special needs baby. They ARE our whole life!

R.I.P. my sweet, handsome Thorin. You are missed dearly Dec. 25, 1999 - Mar. 4, 2012
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old May 13th, 2012, 03:51 AM
millitntanimist's Avatar
millitntanimist millitntanimist is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Kitchener, ON
Posts: 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by tenderfoot View Post
Exactly!!
Dogs do what works and when it works they do it more - just like kids. Unfortunately many people don't see how they are rewarding their dogs for poor manners. Just looking at a dog when he whines can reinforce whining - it got the persons attention -it worked so now they whine more.
Parents, adults and teachers lead the way to learning for children - just like we lead the way for our animals so we can all live in harmony. And because animals all speak the same language it is so important that humans pay more attention over all. There are so many opportunities to teach, to learn and to understand each other. Unfortunately many people are so busy with life they forget to pay attention to the little things. We have learned through our work with dogs, cats, horses and birds that everything you do matters and while it isn't always a competition to rise to the top it is about maintaining clear communication based on love, trust and respect, and yes we believe someone should be the decision maker, just like someone needs to lead children to become good members of society.
I totally agree with this
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old May 13th, 2012, 04:26 AM
millitntanimist's Avatar
millitntanimist millitntanimist is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Kitchener, ON
Posts: 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rgeurts View Post
As for the training and alpha issues, I can barely manage my Nookie, so I have no comments on any of that. But I do have to say I agree, wholeheartedly, with GF on this one.
That's your perogative. I think you can (and must) teach respect by giving respect, not by applying (positive) punishment. A child that behaves well because they are afraid of being punished is not a "better" child (and as i said, it is also statistically the worst way to change behavior). In fact, punishment is a poor predictor of good behavior, but an excellent predictor of trust level. It doesn't stop bad decisions, it simply makes it more likely that the child will hide their behavior from their family. A child that learns the way to get respect is to be respectful can be trusted to make good decisions without parental supervision. A child that relies on punishment will always need someone looking over their shoulder, and will likely do everything in their power to avoid that punishment through lies and deception. It's pretty easy for a kid to figure out they're only punished when they're caught.

If we are talking about physical punishment, there is a direct correlation between physically disciplining a child and that child's likelihood of jeuvenile delinquency, crime, and domestic abuse. Of a group of violent offenders polled at San Quentin prison, 100% were physically punished as children.
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old May 13th, 2012, 09:14 AM
tenderfoot's Avatar
tenderfoot tenderfoot is offline
Senior Contributor - Expert
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Boulder, Colorado
Posts: 1,249
It is a balance of all things. Take the time and effort to teach impulse
control and good manners, but when things start to go awry be wiling to say no, and then take the time to teach the right answer. Just as our children should be raised. It is really so simple - it is sad when people make things so complicated and contentious.
__________________
Love Them & Lead Them,
~Elizabeth & Doug
www.TenderfootTraining.com
Dog Training the Way Nature Intended
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old May 13th, 2012, 10:54 AM
Rgeurts's Avatar
Rgeurts Rgeurts is offline
Senior Contributor
Tetris Champion, Cell-Out Champion
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Alberta, Canada
Posts: 1,964
Quote:
Originally Posted by millitntanimist View Post
That's your perogative. I think you can (and must) teach respect by giving respect, not by applying (positive) punishment. A child that behaves well because they are afraid of being punished is not a "better" child (and as i said, it is also statistically the worst way to change behavior). In fact, punishment is a poor predictor of good behavior, but an excellent predictor of trust level. It doesn't stop bad decisions, it simply makes it more likely that the child will hide their behavior from their family. A child that learns the way to get respect is to be respectful can be trusted to make good decisions without parental supervision.

We all have our own opinions and beliefs. Statistics are a load of crap. Studies are biased and often inaccurate. And I could not disagree more. I got spankings, and if I yelled at my mom, or called her names, I'd get a smack in the mouth. I'm not a criminal. I'm not disrespectful, and I never distrusted my parents and was never afraid of them. In fact, I have SO much respect for them both. I lost my mom only a few years ago, but she was my best friend until the day she passed, and I still miss her every day. I didn't pull the legs off frogs, or play frog baseball. I didn't smash the neighbors garden lights or stomp on their luminaries. I didn't vandalize or break into their cars. But the kids around... that's what they do. They don't get spankings, they get "time-outs". So you can preach that showing them respect instead of punishment is the way to go until your blue in the face, but it holds no water for me at all. I think GF is absolutely right, and that IS the problem with kids now. As far as making good decisions without parental supervision, please tell that to the parents who thought as you do and lost their baby to some pervert on the internet who was able to "lure" them away because the parents DID trust them to make the right decisions. It's SO easy to gain a childs trust and has nothing to do with teaching them respect and how to make a good decision. Kids are kids and will make bad decisions. They need the parents to guide them, and yes, to check up on them and make sure they aren't being misled. There are no guarantees on how your children will turn out. But if you allow them too much freedom and no consequence for bad behavior, except an occasional "time-out", you are asking for trouble.


A child that relies on punishment will always need someone looking over their shoulder, and will likely do everything in their power to avoid that punishment through lies and deception. It's pretty easy for a kid to figure out they're only punished when they're caught.

Again, I disagree. And I'm speaking from personal experience. I grew up in a time where spankings were acceptable, and I'm no worse for wear. In fact, my sister and I are both respectful and kind hearted. I attribute that strictly to our parents. I'm not saying to beat your children, but you can't just "talk" to them or give them a time-out and expect them to be well behaved. I have a few really good friends who don't believe in "postive" punishment, just as you. And unfortunately, we don't spend much time together because I just can't stand to be around their kids. One of them sprayed their German Shepard in the face with a household cleaner, burnt his eyes and he's now blind at 3 yrs old. All they said was "it's not her fault, she doesn't know any better". She was 5... I knew better at that age. It didn't happen because she didn't know any better... it happened because she's a brat and knows there is no consequence for her actions except maybe a few minutes in the corner.

If we are talking about physical punishment, there is a direct correlation between physically disciplining a child and that child's likelihood of jeuvenile delinquency, crime, and domestic abuse. Of a group of violent offenders polled at San Quentin prison, 100% were physically punished as children.
I'm sure that the physical punishment wasn't the only common factor there. Were they just punished or beaten? Were the parents drug dealers/addicts? Were the parents alcoholics? Physical abuse is prevalent in those demographic groups, which is highly likely to turn out a few bad eggs. So I'm sure that statistic is based on physical abuse, not physical punishment, and there is a HUGE difference, which leads me back to my original statement regarding statistics being biased and inaccurate, to the point of misleading. Ok, I'm done! This is an interesting conversation, but WAY off topic. If you want to continue it, make a new thread and I'll be happy to join in!

__________________
"Obey my dog!" - Mugatu

"Who can believe that there is no soul behind those luminous eyes!" ~ Theophile Gautier


"Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole" - Ok... whoever said this has never had a sick or special needs baby. They ARE our whole life!

R.I.P. my sweet, handsome Thorin. You are missed dearly Dec. 25, 1999 - Mar. 4, 2012
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old May 13th, 2012, 10:55 AM
Rgeurts's Avatar
Rgeurts Rgeurts is offline
Senior Contributor
Tetris Champion, Cell-Out Champion
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Alberta, Canada
Posts: 1,964
Quote:
Originally Posted by tenderfoot View Post
It is a balance of all things. Take the time and effort to teach impulse
control and good manners, but when things start to go awry be wiling to say no, and then take the time to teach the right answer. Just as our children should be raised. It is really so simple - it is sad when people make things so complicated and contentious.
__________________
"Obey my dog!" - Mugatu

"Who can believe that there is no soul behind those luminous eyes!" ~ Theophile Gautier


"Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole" - Ok... whoever said this has never had a sick or special needs baby. They ARE our whole life!

R.I.P. my sweet, handsome Thorin. You are missed dearly Dec. 25, 1999 - Mar. 4, 2012
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Forum Terms of Use

  • All Bulletin Board Posts are for personal/non-commercial use only.
  • Self-promotion and/or promotion in general is prohibited.
  • Debate is healthy but profane and deliberately rude posts will be deleted.
  • Posters not following the rules will be banned at the Admins' discretion.
  • Read the Full Forum Rules

Forum Details

  • Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
    Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
    vBulletin Optimisation by vB Optimise (Reduced on this page: MySQL 8.33%).
  • All times are GMT -5. The time now is 05:54 PM.