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Macdog

"Myths About Dominance" - Interesting

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The American Veterinary Society for Animal Behavior (AVSAB) is an organization of veterinarians and folks with PhD's in animal behavior. They have one hell of a hate on for Caesar Milan, our beloved darling "Dog Whisperer". The nicest thing they accuse Caesar of is that he set dog training back ten years.

Their Position Paper Dominance and Myths About Wolf Behavior and Dominance as it Relates to Dogs can be found here. It's an interesting read. I think they had Caesar in mind when they wrote it.

Here are just a few extracts:

AVSAB is concerned with the recent re-emergence of dominance theory and forcing dogs and other animals into submission as a means of preventing and correcting behavior problems.

For decades, some traditional animal training has relied on dominance theory and has assumed that animals misbehave primarily because they are striving for higher rank. This idea often leads trainers to believe that force or coercion must be used to modify these undesirable behaviors.

Dominance is defined as a relationship between individual animals that is established by force/aggression and submission, to determine who has priority access to resources. Applying Dominance Theory to Human- Animal Interactions Can Pose Problems. Most undesirable behaviors in our pets are not related to [dominance]; rather, they are due to accidental rewarding of the undesirable behavior.

Overall, the use of dominance theory to understand human-animal interactions leads to an antagonistic relationship between owners and their pets.

The AVSAB clarifies that dominance and leadership are not synonymous.

Myths About Wolf Behavior:

Because dogs are related to wolves, we should use wolves as a model for understanding dogs. While we can get ideas of the types of behaviors to study in dogs based on what we know about wolves, the best model for understanding domestic dogs is domestic dogs. Dogs have diverged significantly from wolves in the last 15,000 years....free-roaming dogs live in small groups rather than cohesive packs, and in some cases spend much of their time alone. They do not generally cooperate to hunt or to raise their offspring, and virtually all males and females have the opportunity to mate..

I hear that if you think a dog is dominant, you should roll him on his back in an “alpha roll†and growl in his face because that’s what an alpha wolf would do.. In a pack of wolves, higher-ranking wolves do not roll lower-ranking wolves on their backs. Rather, lower-ranking wolves show their subordinate status by offering to roll on their backs. This submissive roll is a sign of deference, similar to when someone greets the queen or the pope by kneeling. Consequently, a more appropriate term for the posture would be a submissive roll.

The most common cause of aggression in dogs is fear. Pinning a dog down when he is scared will not address the root of his fear. Furthermore it can heighten the aggression. In fact, a recent study of dogs (Herron et al. 2008) found that confrontational techniques such as ... growling at the dog, performing an “alpha roll,†staring the dog down, and enforcing a “dominance down†frequently elicited an aggressive response from the dog.

I have heard that to be the boss or leader, you have to go though doors first: walk ahead of the dog like wolves do. In a wolf pack, the highest ranking wolves only lead the hunt a fraction of the time (Peterson et al. 2002). Furthermore, when they are hunting, they do not keep a tight linear formation based on their rank.

Again, the whole paper is found here. Whether you agree or not, it's still an interesting read.

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I have heard that to be the boss or leader, you have to go though doors first: walk ahead of the dog like wolves do. In a wolf pack, the highest ranking wolves only lead the hunt a fraction of the time (Peterson et al. 2002). Furthermore, when they are hunting, they do not keep a tight linear formation based on their rank.

Most of the above makes perfect sense. This last part I find pretty interesting as it goes against what I see everywhere written, however it again makes sense in some ways. The Alphas in society don't do their own laundry/cooking/cleaning.

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"The most common cause of aggression in dogs is fear. Pinning a dog down when he is scared will not address the root of his fear. Furthermore it can heighten the aggression. In fact, a recent study of dogs (Herron et al. 2008) found that confrontational techniques such as ... growling at the dog, performing an “alpha roll,†staring the dog down, and enforcing a “dominance down†frequently elicited an aggressive response from the dog."

Here's my experience. YOU SHOULD NEVER GROWL on your dog, YOU SHOULD NEVER PIN A FEARFUL DOG, but! a stare to stare with a dog is ok just so as long as he/she is testing your dominance.

Yes it's true that it leads to aggression. because he's/she's trying to see if he/she can scare you, therefore rank up. if you got scared, your dog will feel that he has a higher authority.

ONLY PIN A DOG WHEN: he's became dominant already, assert your dominance by pinning until he gives that huff. DON'T HURT HIM/HER! just put him/her in a spot where he's not allowed to move or put his/her foot on you. remember to wait for that huff even if it takes 30 minutes or so.

I NEVER DO ALPHA ROLLS because i don't find any good to it at any way. i correct my dog with a tap or as we call it "Bite" beside the body. the tap is a simple finger adding a little pressure to specific points on their body where they won't get hurt.I do the "bite" when he doesn't listen when I say no, or is too persistent on licking or biting something that he isn't allowed to do.

Never correct a dog when he's sniffing.

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If you correct a dog when he's sniffing, you're implanting in his brain that there's something wrong with what he's doing.

I allow mine to sniff things because the sense of smelling is something that they rely on.

I only correct mine when he's taking a nibble or lick of something that he's not allowed on.

If you carefully study your dog's body language, you can see when he or she is about to nibble or bite on something. With that knowledge, you'd know when to stop him. :)

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I find the rule about going through the door first is very important for keeping Milla under control. On days when she jumps out of the car without waiting for me, she's also very aggressive with the other dogs at the dog park and invariably, after a couple time outs, ends up on the "leash of shame" and having to leave early. So I'm very careful to observe this rule, unless I'm letting her out into the yard and I'm not coming out, too.

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ONLY PIN A DOG WHEN: he's became dominant already, assert your dominance by pinning until he gives that huff. DON'T HURT HIM/HER! just put him/her in a spot where he's not allowed to move or put his/her foot on you. remember to wait for that huff even if it takes 30 minutes or so.

The problem with this is that if you do this to the wrong 'dominant' dog, you will get your face bitten off. A dog that is already being dominant is not a dog I would EVER physically confront.

Read the article before Macdog... I like it :)

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If you correct a dog when he's sniffing, you're implanting in his brain that there's something wrong with what he's doing.

I allow mine to sniff things because the sense of smelling is something that they rely on.

I own a scent hound, she has a VERY high scent drive. She's been taught there are times when she can scent, and there are times when she can't scent... teaching her not to scent was largely reliant on being more exciting than scenting, but I am not opposed to teaching her there is a consequence for scenting when it's not what we are supposed to be doing ;) She scents very well on command too (for things like scent discrimination).

I find the rule about going through the door first is very important for keeping Milla under control. On days when she jumps out of the car without waiting for me' date=' she's also very aggressive with the other dogs at the dog park and invariably, after a couple time outs, ends up on the "leash of shame" and having to leave early. So I'm very careful to observe this rule, unless I'm letting her out into the yard and I'm not coming out, too.[/quote']

I would guess isn't really about not letting her go out the door first, but only taking her into the park when she's calm as opposed to letting her go into the park when she's over aroused and excited.

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Most of the above makes perfect sense. This last part I find pretty interesting as it goes against what I see everywhere written, however it again makes sense in some ways. The Alphas in society don't do their own laundry/cooking/cleaning.

And think about sled dogs - they walk (run) in front, but they also obey the commands of their handler. Police dogs go in before the handler, too, and yet they are highly trained responsive dogs.

The fact is there is a lot more to leadership than eating before your dog or walking through doors first - I frequently eat after my dogs and encourage them to go through doors before me but that makes no difference to the fact they respect me and look to me for guidance.

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very intresting :)

i agree about the door thing, mine go out the door first on walks but that doesnt mean they dont respect me and are more dominant, the sniffing thing i dont agree with, imagine standing in the snow its FREEZING cold and your dog wants to sniff 1 spot for 10 minutes then just walk off, how annoying it would take hours to actually get anywhere n we'd end up with a cold lol nope if u sniff for longer then nessasary you dont get to pee lol if u wanna pee just do it :P

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very interesting posts here. i have found with my 2 that its more about attitude rather than actions.

virtually all dogs will listen to my wife, she has something about her that you cant duplicate. all dogs long to be noticed and payed attention to, and they all behave.

its really frustrating, they would rather go to her for a stroke than come to me for high value treats, like liver.

i also think some of a dogs behaviour is down to genetics rather than environment.

i had a very violent father, and was put into care because of it, now according to popular belief i should also be violent and attack my kids, but my kids never get physical punishment, in fact all i have to do is raise the tone of my voice and they are in tears (i feel very mean)

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The problem with this is that if you do this to the wrong 'dominant' dog, you will get your face bitten off. A dog that is already being dominant is not a dog I would EVER physically confront.

Read the article before Macdog... I like it :)

That's just it. :) That's what I just said Bec :) A dominant dog will test where he stands and where you'll stand. It's not about being the one who's on top. It's about knowing your dog's body language. a dominant dog will only lead to over aggression if you won't correct it right.

If you don't correct him and allow him to be like that, do you think everything will be ok if you do something in his space that he doesn't like? i don't think so. :) he'll growl and show his teeth at you if you don't show him "Hey, i'm the boss."

end result: rehoming if not corrected.

you've seen rehomed dogs right? why are they rehomed? because the owner were afraid of their dogs. the dog already instilled the thought that he is dominant. pinning isn't the only solution to correct the dominance of a dog. however, this shows that you are the boss.

it's not about the belief that dogs are also wolves. try studying a group of stray dogs and see how they move and the alpha dog corrects them. :)

Again: correcting a dog isn't only done by pinning down. ONLY do this, when they are persistent enough not to listen to you.

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Eric, I know where you are coming from but if we are taking about a TRULY dominant dog, which is quite rare, it's not a simple case of just correcting the behaviour.

Every interaction with the dog needs to be considered, it's not about once off stand offs, because what if he takes you up on the challenge? You have to know that you can physically beat him EVERY time, and even then, you are only teaching him that whoever is stronger and fastest wins. Living with a truly dominant dog is not just about correcting the behaviour but teaching him you control everything - all the resources, all the things he values. I know of a truly rank aggressive (dominant) dog that attacked his owner causing serious damage because he decided he wanted the treats she was holding to train him with. No confrontation - and not a dog you could have just corrected.

I'm not saying don't correct it, but it's not a black and white problem, unfortunately.

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Eric, I know where you are coming from but if we are taking about a TRULY dominant dog, which is quite rare, it's not a simple case of just correcting the behaviour.

Every interaction with the dog needs to be considered, it's not about once off stand offs, because what if he takes you up on the challenge? You have to know that you can physically beat him EVERY time, and even then, you are only teaching him that whoever is stronger and fastest wins. Living with a truly dominant dog is not just about correcting the behaviour but teaching him you control everything - all the resources, all the things he values. I know of a truly rank aggressive (dominant) dog that attacked his owner causing serious damage because he decided he wanted the treats she was holding to train him with. No confrontation - and not a dog you could have just corrected.

I'm not saying don't correct it, but it's not a black and white problem, unfortunately.

Very true Bec! If you had a truely dominant dog you would have to quite litterally sleep with one eye open all the time! Not really a nice pet! :(

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ericdj,

please listen to bec!

she is a very knowledgable lady

she makes good points and is deffo worth taking the advice off

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And think about sled dogs - they walk (run) in front, but they also obey the commands of their handler. Police dogs go in before the handler, too, and yet they are highly trained responsive dogs.

The fact is there is a lot more to leadership than eating before your dog or walking through doors first - I frequently eat after my dogs and encourage them to go through doors before me but that makes no difference to the fact they respect me and look to me for guidance.

You're making too much sense :). I was thinking about doing the "me first" training but I'm persuaded otherwise now.

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Very true Bec! If you had a truely dominant dog you would have to quite litterally sleep with one eye open all the time! Not really a nice pet! :(

Yeah, it's not an instance where you can just decide to slack off on things - some dogs get told the rules and accept them, some dogs ask every day if the rules are the same.

ericdj,

please listen to bec!

she is a very knowledgable lady

she makes good points and is deffo worth taking the advice off

Aww you are too sweet :) Eric has a great point and I get where he is coming from, I just think there is a bit more to it if you are living with a truly dominant dog.

You're making too much sense :). I was thinking about doing the "me first" training but I'm persuaded otherwise now.

Don't get me wrong - I think all dogs need rules and boundaries, but I'm not really interested in dominating my dogs. I want my dog to look to me for guidance, respect me, want to work with me and trust me. A large part of that is having consistent rules and boundaries in place. I like to follow the NILIF principle (nothing in life is free) http://k9deb.com/nilif.htm

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You have to remember Huskies are pack dogs and as such sometimes they like push just to see how you will react. All pack dogs want to be top dog.

The thing is, is to put them in there place if this happens, this doesn't mean getting agry or anything with your dog just show them who's boss every now and then in case they forget.

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If I took the whole 'eat before your dog' thing to the letter - my diet would be fantastic lol

If Neo eats at around 7pm ish as he usually does - and I took that to the extreme - I would never snack as much as I do afterwards :)

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