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Old 12-31-2012, 01:11 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Social dominance and hand biting - corollation?

As I've watched my puppy's behavior over the last 2 months I've noticed an action/reaction over and over and I wonder if its related.

My pup was an alpha from his litter and he continues to act that way around dogs his size. So while playing at the park or with other dogs, I see him place his paw on the head of other dogs and I assume its a sign of dominance. The reaction from submissive dogs is to take this action and often lay down. The reaction from old dogs and alphas is to pullback from the paw on the head and then lung in at my pup. All normal behavior I think, but I write this just for background for the next bit I'm going to write.

In social settings with people and kids Gunnar still believes himself to be alpha when confronted by strangers. And people being dumb like to pet puppies without asking and sometimes get nipped by him. But what I've noticed is that he reacts to being petted on the head just like the alpha dogs at the park react when Gunnar puts his paw on their heads. If people pet Gunnar on his back or sides he does not get as riled up.

Is my observation of dominance and head petting common across this breed?
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Old 12-31-2012, 01:18 PM   #2 (permalink)
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My understanding is petting on top of the head, or leaning over the dog, is a dominant position. Dogs approach each other from the side, not head on and the head and body over the back is a dominance thing. IMO, this is a DOG thing and not a BREED thing.

I'm not a big believer in the dog/people dominance theory. I think they know we aren't dogs. But I have seen dogs react differently to people petting them on the top of the head vs the chest area. It might be excitement too. Their hands are closer to his head, more visual, etc and he might just be trying to play.
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Old 12-31-2012, 02:09 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks Michelle, that makes a lot of sense. He seems to respond a lot better to people who stoop down and pet his back. The worst thing I see is when someone bends at the waist and then pets the top of his head, he immediately lunges at their face and while his tongue is often out for a kiss, I fear the day that he doesn't like the person and goes for a bite. For that reason I ask everyone to wait until I have him in a sit position and I'm holding his collar before I let them pet him. At least until this behavior has subsided.
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Old 12-31-2012, 02:19 PM   #4 (permalink)
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How old is your puppy?
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Old 12-31-2012, 02:38 PM   #5 (permalink)
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How old is your puppy?
4 months
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Old 12-31-2012, 02:54 PM   #6 (permalink)
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In social settings with people and kids Gunnar still believes himself to be alpha when confronted by strangers. And people being dumb like to pet puppies without asking and sometimes get nipped by him. But what I've noticed is that he reacts to being petted on the head just like the alpha dogs at the park react when Gunnar puts his paw on their heads. If people pet Gunnar on his back or sides he does not get as riled up.
If I may.....I wish you'd re-consider your pup's reaction as being dominate or Alpha. He's a puppy. A baby. Think of it as your pup is confident. A confident pup. A great thing to have.

A four month old pup is not ever allowed to react towards a stranger or anybody by nipping. Play or not. Ever. A stranger should be able to handle your pup anywhere on it's body with out any negative reaction from your pup. It's up to YOU to decide if a person can pet your pup...not your pup. Not ever your pup.

My 3 year old 97lb male GSD is a confident, aloof dog. He doesn't like to be pet by strangers. He doesn't like for strangers to bend over him. But if they do, by God, he will NOT react. He'll look at me. My job is to respect his needs and not put him in a situation where he has to give me that look.

As a puppy, while I was socializeing him, I noticed when strangers got all goo-goey over a puppy, he'd ignore them. Didn't matter what they said, or how they called. He'd ignore them. If they came to him to pet him, he'd ignore them. He allowed them to pet him and gush, but he didn't respond. That was a clue to ME that to have people gush over him just wasn't his bag. My job was to teach him to allow it, without reaction.

I can take my dog anywhere and know that I can control him. If I had allowed him to progress and react, he'd be stuck for life in my back yard with a high insurance policy.
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Old 12-31-2012, 05:37 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Thanks Lilie for your feedback. And while I agree that ultimately I'd like him to be able to care less about what's going on around him, I'm not sure how to get there. Can you offer advice?

For instance: When we got to puppy socialization class the other day this is what I had at the end of my leash for the first hour:


We progressed to this:


And then to this:



But that's after 2 hours of play and learning . I'm not sure how to progress straight to the calm puppy when I take him to park with my kids and strangers and kids are coming up behind me when I'm not looking and Gunnar has not been run and played with for 2 hours. Much less the adult who I'd think should know better comes up to me in a parking lot and gets right in his face. I'm open to any and all suggestions.
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Old 12-31-2012, 06:11 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Let me say first, I LOVE your puppy! I love that intense, engaged look. You are going to have your hands full for a long time with this one, I bet. But as he matures, it will be so very worth it!

If he were mine, I'd practice NILIF 24/7. Nothing In Life Is Free. You want to build on his confidence, yet make him focus on you for direction. This forum has tons of threads on NILIF.

I would enroll him in puppy classes. A professional instructor will help you find tools you'll need to work with him. Not only are classes good for your pup, they are a great tool for the handler as well. Classes aren't just to teach your pup the basics, they also help build a solid foundation for you and your pup.

It really helps if you change your mindset from thinking of your pup as a dominate dog. And start thinking about your pup as a confident pup, "This world is mine!" type pup. "Hey you over there! Come play with me!"
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Old 12-31-2012, 06:24 PM   #9 (permalink)
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He is stunning!!! I too love his focus. I would recommend getting involved with a good schutzhund or ring sport club. They will be able to help you.


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Old 12-31-2012, 06:41 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lilie View Post
Let me say first, I LOVE your puppy! I love that intense, engaged look. You are going to have your hands full for a long time with this one, I bet. But as he matures, it will be so very worth it!

If he were mine, I'd practice NILIF 24/7. Nothing In Life Is Free. You want to build on his confidence, yet make him focus on you for direction. This forum has tons of threads on NILIF.

I would enroll him in puppy classes. A professional instructor will help you find tools you'll need to work with him. Not only are classes good for your pup, they are a great tool for the handler as well. Classes aren't just to teach your pup the basics, they also help build a solid foundation for you and your pup.

It really helps if you change your mindset from thinking of your pup as a dominate dog. And start thinking about your pup as a confident pup, "This world is mine!" type pup. "Hey you over there! Come play with me!"
Agree. What a gorgeous confident little guy. Look into clicker training so you don't have to "fight him" to comply.

His outlook is a lot like WD's and at 11 months is a dream to work with, clicker trained in combination with NILIF. But is was a heck of a job to get him to this point.
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