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Old 08-18-2014, 12:31 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default dominance, leadership and respect

continuing conversation from another thread

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SuperG said in another thread
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---Quote (Originally by lalachka)---
I just don't believe that every problem a dog has arises from the dog fighting for rank. *I completely agree*

we have to be like good parents, fair, consistent, loving.* *I agree again.*

the dog needs to understand that we control their resources and respect us.* *I mostly disagree...if controlling their resources means feeding them, watering them and exercising them then any individual would have total "respect" of their dog and there would be no problems to any degree. Personally, I believe it is leadership which makes the bigger difference in the relationship and condones the desired behavior we are attempting to create. Yes, having the upper hand in controlling the rewards for proper behavior has merit to it but it is but a stepping stone and small part of the overall process to reach the level where the dog "respects" their particular human. The "leadership" of which I speak is created by the superior intelligence a human supposedly has over the dog amongst other human qualities. Simply, if we shun our responsibility to "control" or provide a dog's resources, the dog would simply die over a period of time or become so unruly, most would give up on the do
*g. Being
* one step ( if not two or three ) ahead of a dog via our intelligence is what cements the leadership which dogs crave for...however if there is no leadership by the human or an ample amount based on the dog's requirement then the dog need not "respect" their human because the dog will provide it's version of leadership to fill the void.* *
---End Quote---
*I am making an assumption of what you mean by "resources"


SuperG

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end quote

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you assumed correct, that's what I meant however you bring an interesting point. since all owners control the resources then there's something else to it that makes one dog respect their owner and another not.
I originally thought it's being fair and consistent but there might be more to it.

first of all, what's respect? how do I know whether my dog respects me or not?

and second, if you're right and it's our superior intelligence then I wonder how a dog picks up on it. we only see in others what we possess ourselves (not my thought, I think it's schopenhauer and it's a loose quote)*
meaning (the way I understand it) that let's say someone is really good in math, like PhD good. and I only know that 2 +2=4. I can only gauge that person's abilities to the extent of him knowing that 2+2=4 because that's all I understand. I don't know how much is 3+3 and there's no way for me to know whether 6 is the right answer so I can't gauge his knowledge.*

it's been years since I read it, I'm sure I butchered his thought but do you see what I mean?

so for dogs to gauge our intelligence they have to possess it. they don't so on what level do you think they pick up on it?

I'm not saying you're wrong, I think there's something to this.
excuse the philosophical stuff on a dog forum, I'm really interested in the 'how' and 'why' behind everything.
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Old 08-18-2014, 01:31 PM   #2 (permalink)
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"Dominance" by all too many, simply means brawn and a physical upper hand...imho...this description of "dominance" is but a sliver of the big picture and if solely relied upon, one would have a submissive scared dog which will end up a complete mess. To dominate any creature ( including humans ) via brute force WILL accomplish the mission ..if the goal is simply to control an entity which capitulates to an iron fist...however that is not our goal and a dog living in fear is not our pursuit.

Also, humans are no different than dogs to a great degree when it comes to dominance ( the desire to seek a dominant leader or to be the dominant leader )....as humans we find comfort and ease when a strong, fair, motivated and wise leader is at the helm versus an environment where the supposed "leader" has little if any merit which does not instill in us that they are a quality/competent leader. Imagine yourself on a airplane and the aircraft starts to go through unusual attitudes and motions and the captain comes on the P.A. and asks if anyone aboard might be able to help out with the piloting of the aircraft. The "captains" of life need to be dominant in a sense that they convey their abilities with confidence, precision and consistent positive results where all benefit from their intelligence, experience and leadership. Many of us have been dominated by another's intellect with no brute force required.

Anyway, a very simple example of using our human intelligence to show leadership to a dog and gain dominance/respect is when I was training my current dog an extended down/stay. I would place her on a down/stay out in the yard and then go inside and watch her from a position where she could not see me. The moment she started to budge, I would either come out into view and verbally or using a hand signal correct her. I then took this a bit further and simply left a window open so she could hear the correction but never see me. Now, is this amazing intellect on the behalf of the human?? LOL, I think not but to the dog, it had to leave her scratching her head as to how I could be so aware of her conduct while not being visible. I simply outwitted her using simple tools which all humans have and in doing as such gained a slight upper hand. Hopefully, my dog believes that I always have an "eye" on her even if she cannot see or scent me.

Don't know if this made any sense...but what the heck, it's a wonderful mystery as to what goes through a dog's head and my guess is as good as yours.

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Old 08-18-2014, 01:35 PM   #3 (permalink)
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lol yes that's a cool example)))))) so you think things like this is what makes them respect us?

also, how do you know a dog respects its owner? like what do you think are the signs?

ETA the aircraft was also a good example, thank you. that helped me visualize something.
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Old 08-18-2014, 02:21 PM   #4 (permalink)
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also, how do you know a dog respects its owner? like what do you think are the signs?
That's a good question since the word "respect" might not be the best term for this topic we are theorizing about....but I guess it will work.

I sense that I have more of my dog's "respect" as the synergy increases and what used to be a chore with the dog has evolved into an effortless team activity. An example...a while back as I was simply trying to master the basic walk with my dog, I asked for advice on this forum. At this point my dog had the heel down and didn't forge but her body language suggested that she felt constrained and walking her was lacking something. Somebody replied that the entire walk need not be so regimented/rigid and perhaps I might allow the dog full leash to roam a bit and enjoy a bit of latitude. I did as such and it was great advice, I now have a 30 foot lead which we use at times and she really gets to roam a bit more on our walks....but part of the deal was ..never pulling...my command was "loose leash" and she picked up on it in short order. So, now we both have our ways, when I tell her to "heel up" she's right in the slot when she should be and when I tell her "okay" she roams but never pulls. Ever since we accomplished this, her body language displays a much more content dog and perhaps this suggests I have her "respect" because she does this ever so willingly...I get my way and she gets her way...no hassle, no strain, no muss no fuss.

If the 3 neighbor dogs are at the back fence barking and going crazy and I tell my dog as I let her outside to "heel tight" she stays right in the slot where she should until I say " okay...go have fun"...I take this as a sign of "respect" because prior to this behavior she would dash from the door and charge the fence and dogs.

It would be easy to use obedience and respect interchangeably but it seems to me, if you find a way where the dog gets it's way but first gives me MY WAY first, you have a level of respect which is a two way street at many times.

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Old 08-18-2014, 02:24 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I think it's a mixture of leadership and mutual respect. Respect is earned no matter who you are. Example...I respect their space when they eat and they respect mine when I eat. Dogs are loyal creatures and pretty smart, they can pick up what is expected of them. Even in training I allow mine to think, make a choice and execute that choice(if it's what I'm looking for) Mine tend to make the right choices consistently. They watch my body language, my face and listen to my tone. They are very in tune with me as I am with them. I never give the command for them to move off the couch when I want to sit, they see me coming and automatically jump off or move to the other side, that is respect if my space at its best.
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Old 08-18-2014, 09:18 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I think it's a mixture of leadership and mutual respect. Respect is earned no matter who you are. Example...I respect their space when they eat and they respect mine when I eat. Dogs are loyal creatures and pretty smart, they can pick up what is expected of them. Even in training I allow mine to think, make a choice and execute that choice(if it's what I'm looking for) Mine tend to make the right choices consistently. They watch my body language, my face and listen to my tone. They are very in tune with me as I am with them. I never give the command for them to move off the couch when I want to sit, they see me coming and automatically jump off or move to the other side, that is respect if my space at its best.
lol then my dog disrespects me every day. i have to work on this some more. he's always in my food. i have to say no every time.

also, he takes my spot on the bed. i have to tell him to move.

it hasn't bothered me enough to do something about it but now i'm wondering if this is all part of the problem (reactivity). thank you for the ideas


SuperG, i don't think that's an example of respect. if you ask me you gave in.
i also want my dog next to me and to only sniff on command. it's annoying for me to walk any other way so i'm sticking to it. i do stop every now and then and tell him to enjoy himself lol.

i guess this is my version of cooperation. but i don't see where respect comes in
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Old 08-18-2014, 09:34 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I fell the notion of dogs "craving" leadership is silly.

Dogs don't want to listen to you. Dogs want to do what dogs want to do. Dogs DO listen because of selective breeding for bidablity and and ability on our parts to effectively communicate with them.

Your dog would much rather eat the smashed raccoon in the road than listen to you, but doesn't because he is capable of understand the consequences of that action (being either a reward for not doing it, or punishment for doing). His personal feelings about you likely have little (if anything) to do with it.
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Old 08-18-2014, 09:41 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I fell the notion of dogs "craving" leadership is silly.

Dogs don't want to listen to you. Dogs want to do what dogs want to do. Dogs DO listen because of selective breeding for bidablity and and ability on our parts to effectively communicate with them.

Your dog would much rather eat the smashed raccoon in the road than listen to you, but doesn't because he is capable of understand the consequences of that action (being either a reward for not doing it, or punishment for doing). His personal feelings about you likely have little (if anything) to do with it.
i'm on the fence about it. i don't buy into the dominance theory but i do believe they have to respect their owners so to say.

the reason why i might believe it is because i have a reactive dog and have been told many times that i started this by dumb handling (not in those words lol)

what do you think?
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Old 08-18-2014, 09:53 PM   #9 (permalink)
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i'm on the fence about it. i don't buy into the dominance theory but i do believe they have to respect their owners so to say.

the reason why i might believe it is because i have a reactive dog and have been told many times that i started this by dumb handling (not in those words lol)

what do you think?
Here's how I'd break it down-

A dog is reactive. Lets make up an example. Dog is one day charged by a strange dog on a walk and gets frightened. Because he is initially afraid, he then starts barking and growling at other dogs that come up to him afterwards because barking and growling usually make the other dog go away.

Simple enough, and there are many different ways to handle this.

But at what point does the dog think to himself "man I wonder who the alpha/dominant one/pack leader is here?"

In my opinion, they don't. An action caused a reaction, one behavior led to another, its as simple as that. Weather or not you are the "alpha" never played into it. I feel people want to read too much into this notion of "dominance", when what they should be doing is looking at the behavior and fixing that.

I don't consider myself an "alpha" or "dominant" or a "pack leader". I consider myself a dog owner, with two dogs, who do dog-like things and have dog-like behaviors. When one of them does something I don't like, that is counter to the human-like things that I do or my human-like behaviors, I either correct them or teach them something else to do that I like better. Why? Because I'm a human and they're dogs and while I enjoy them being and doing dog-like things, they still have to fit into a human-like world. Not because "I'm alpha and I said so", but because that's just the way it is. And I think, honestly, that's about as deep the rabbit hole goes on that one.
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Old 08-18-2014, 10:40 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I think Super G example was a good one. Respect is not earned by forcing my will on a dog. It is earned by the dog realizing that by listening to me, their life is improved. That makes a working partnership work.

My dogs are off leash a lot. But they have to earn it. When I start a hike, it's on a long line. If they don't pull and behave, they get to be free. If they should decide to not listen to a command, they go back on.

I don't need to be a dictator. I don't need to have a dog walk right next to me all the time. Yes, I control resources, including off leash time. But I not need to enforce strict rules all the time. My dogs have learned, and respect the fact that when they please me, things are better for them. But that means I have to take them in to account as well. It's not all about me.

Respect is earned, not demanded. My dogs seek my approval and I give it happily. And I do my best to make sure I earn that respect everyday. Fair, firm, loving, goofy, fun. I laugh with my dog, I enjoy their antics and misbehaviors, I did not get a dog to have a robot. I chose to share my home with another being. Their needs are met and more.

Sorry went off a tangent there. But the word Alpha and Dominance theory really annoys me. It's a dictator way of thinking. Dogs are not stupid. They know I am it a dog. I don't have to try to be a dog to gain their respect.
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