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Dominance in dogs?

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

  
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Titus

Cave canis- vigilo omnis
 
 
Barked: Fri Oct 19, '12 5:35pm PST 
I think if there is submission there must be dominance, though dominance doesn't necessarily mean aggression... I also think that trying to meddle in the dynamic of a group of dogs is pointless because we probably only recognize about 10% of the exchanges between them and at best interpret about 1% of those exchanges correctly.

That said, the relationship/s between a group of dogs and the relationship between those dogs and their owner are two different things. I think dominance clearly exists in dogs, but I don't think humans can properly employ it as a training method because we aren't privy to the intricacies of it in dogs. It's subtle and fluid and not a human 'thing'.
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"Selli"

The Muddy- Princess
 
 
Barked: Sat Oct 20, '12 4:26pm PST 
One of my problem with using the concept of "dominance" for dogs is in dog/dog interactions. I have run into so many people who have dogs that are bullies (as in being a bully, not the actual breeds)who will tell me their dogs are "dominant" or "alpha" as if it is an excuse for their dogs acting like jerks.

No these dogs are pushy and insecure not dominant. There is the belief that dominance is directly related to assertive/aggressive actions and the Abrantes blog kind of feeds that belief.

I like using the term "confident" for the true "alpha" type dog, the ones who can greet other dogs cordially and quickly go about their own business. But I do have to add that I am a retriever person and retrievers with proper temperaments are not that concerned with determining hierarchies with casual acquaintances.
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Titus

Cave canis- vigilo omnis
 
 
Barked: Sat Oct 20, '12 4:54pm PST 
My post refers to dogs who live together with a human caregiver/s.

I agree that most people misinterpret the behavior their own dogs and others, but that doesn't mean that dominance doesn't exist. shrug
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Augusta,- CGC, RN

Such a Good Dog!
 
 
Barked: Sun Oct 21, '12 8:10am PST 
I do agree with what Titus is saying about a group of dogs and how we pick up on so little of what they are "saying" to each other. . . .

I don't think dominance and submission amongst dogs is static . . . it's fluid from situation to situation. It's not as if one dog is one thing all the time.

I've seen dogs be on an even keel with new dogs but get a little bullying and pushy--and I don't mean in a harmful or dangerous way-- with puppies or youngsters (kinda taking advantage as it were . . .) And I don't necessarily see that example as a dog with an insecurity problem . . . . it's probably a very natural inclination-- though from a human social point of view we think is somehow wrong or unfair . . . .
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Rusty

Champion PPH
 
 
Barked: Sun Oct 21, '12 8:43am PST 
Dog love him, my Rusty gets dominated a lot. He is a fairly passive dog & attracts the energy of more dominant breeds. His greeting manners are impeccable, but his crazy play style draws in dogs who like to push less confident dogs's buttons.

There is a Sibe at our park that likes to push his limits. The other dogs around us, she doesn't mess with them at all. She can sense he is weaker mentally than the others. My poor boy just doesn't have the street smarts to figure it out yet. laugh out loud
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"Selli"

The Muddy- Princess
 
 
Barked: Sun Oct 21, '12 9:31am PST 
I am not saying that dominance does not exist, rather that people tend to think that a pushy dog is a "dominant" or "alpha" dog. Notice that in Abrantes article he is very clear that dominance between animals refers to "mates" or animals that LIVE in close contact to each other and rely to some extent on each other for survival.

Two dogs meeting in a park are not "mates" and their interaction does not infer a dominance relationship or hierarchy.

Although I believe all dogs have the right to tell other dogs off if the other dog is being inappropriate, I do think that an older dog who without provocation is pushy with a youngster is acting inappropriately and is showing signs of insecurity.

My Dexy and my Selli, both confident friendly dogs do not bully any other dogs.
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Tiller- (Skansen's- Ira in the M

I DO Exist...To- Drive You Batty
 
 
Barked: Sun Oct 21, '12 1:45pm PST 
It actually would be incorrect to interpret the "certain tv trainer" as being the cause of these words usages (save for "pack" or "pack leader"), nor solely responsible for the heat brought against him. He is an easier target due to his celebrity, and some would say one more crucial due to his high accessibility and popularity to the masses. That said, the "dominance, alpha, wolf thing" traces more fairly link to the Monks of New Skete, whose text continues to sell extremely well. But it is hard to rant about a monk, and also they are less of a target as they are not celebrities in the same unhinged fashion. However, amongst more scrutinizing and intelligent thinkers, they would/ought be equal a threat to those who don't believe in this stuff.

I think the fallout of tv is that it can be information for those who would opt for minimal effort in being "enlightened"; those who often fail to investigate, consider things intellectually and ethically, and only half listen to what they are even turning their ears to in the first place.

But it also is a point, I would say, that countering one non-truth with another non-truth....this is progress? shrug The very concept....and look around and you will find this...that Mech claims he has not witnessed dominance or submission in wolves is preposterously false and can only be uttered by someone who chooses to quote another capriciously, without one lick of investigation or interest to explore their subject, and thereby rather akin to the determined ignorance and half eared listening that tv fans could be accused of. That this non-truth, in some blogs, etc., is used to convince the ignorant masses that some how all training that is not their own has been discredited by quoting something that never was said by someone they know very little about is absurd.

The salient point, which can be intelligently and insightfullly made with no need for spin or truth twisting, is that dominance is EXTREMELY rare in animals that have nothing to compete over wink Duh. There would be no point. And of course the dogs in our lives have precious little to compete over amongst themselves, nor do they view themselves in competition with us. That doesn't mean they can't be willfully bratty at times or not get some kick out of pushing our buttons, but they have no mind to "take over."

This "throw out the baby with the bathwater" approach to me is way too over the top. Dogs do not need to be forced or to accept you as "dominant." Actually, as regards the latter, only parts true, as you control the resource, which is a personification of a dominant by the definitions we choose to use, but whatev wink Ah, but I digress...dogs do not need this concept of force or demand. Good. Everyone can agree. But somehow despite that fact....that everyone agress...this has morphed in some corners into dominance/submission is a myth, people who have bed, couch, door first rules are Neanderthals, and so on.

It is all rather ridiculous.
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