DOMINANCE DEBUNKED- The Myths & Realities of Training Dogs - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 33 (permalink) Old 04-19-2010, 08:53 AM Thread Starter
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DOMINANCE DEBUNKED- The Myths & Realities of Training Dogs

I think this is well done. Comments?





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post #2 of 33 (permalink) Old 04-19-2010, 09:20 AM
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While I agree with the fundamentals of what he's saying (that dominance is WIDELY mislabeled), I just can't get past this idea that all dogs are little programmable robots, who ONLY disobey when WE do something wrong in the training.

People that think the "only" reason a dog doesn't listen to a command is because the human hasn't reinforced it properly, or that WE aren't rewarding enough, are very frustrating.

That implies that a dog literally lacks the capacity of free will, and cannot "blow off" the handler, or simply choose not to obey. Dogs are living beings. Everything they do does NOT titter on the balance of whether or not they're going to get a reward, and to suggest differently takes a TON of credit away from the dog.

Furthermore, it annoys me how these R+ plugs always take it upon themselves to use the term "abusive" in conjunction with type of correction style in the same breath. "Jerking on the collar" (AKA collar correction) is not abusive. Tying a dog to a tree with no food or water until he literally deteriorates into a sack of bones is abusive.

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post #3 of 33 (permalink) Old 04-19-2010, 09:48 AM
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I couldn't get past his definition, logically in error.

For example right off the bat he says dominant cannot be a personality trait, because the definition of dominant is the relationship between two animals and priority access to resources by one of them.

A dog can quite correctly be called dominant and it can be a personality trait.

Simply put, a dominant personality is one who always attempts to control any resources and always tries to establish it's relationship to other animals as being the dominant animal and establishing priority access to any valuable resource. Though it would very rarely be an issue with a relationship with a human, as we have priority access to all resources by default.

It is real, it does happen, there are dogs with that type of personality that display it with any other dog they establish a relationship with. Even if many people do ascribe dominance to things that having nothing to do with it like jumping up or leading on walks.

As far as the rest, it seemed to be correct enough I suppose.

Following any command can be seen as an act of submission by definition though. The dog submits to our desire for it to perform a behavior.. What does that then say if a dog chooses to not submit? The opposite of submission? Or something else?
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post #4 of 33 (permalink) Old 04-19-2010, 10:18 AM
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I think it's fairly well done. I agree with the basic philosophy behind what he's saying.

Comparing our domestic dogs to wolves is one thing that really drives me crazy and I'm happy to see anyone who's willing to argue with that theory and attempt to debunk it. Training a dog from that perspective might get you the results you want (and it might not) but it doesn't mean the philosophy is correct.

And I do agree that "dominance" is often misinterpreted. I've seen many people claim that their dog is dominant when it's really just a lack of training. The dog isn't trying to dominate them, he just doesn't know what he's supposed to do.

But I have to agree with atravis in the sense that he really doesn't give dogs enough credit. They think, they reason and they're opportunists. You can have the most well-trained dog in the world and if he sees an opportunity to do something he really wants to do, he's liable to go for it unless he's stopped and/or corrected. I don't think it's necessarily a matter of the dog trying to dominate his owner, but I don't think it's always due to lack of training/reinforcement, either.

And I do believe that some dogs DO have a dominant personality. I saw it in Riley when he was five weeks old and was bullying his littermates. You can't chalk that up to a lack of training, so I do believe that some dogs just have that kind of personality.

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Gunner - GSD - 7 years
Riley - Golden Retriever - 2 1/2 years
Jake - (aka Demon kitty) Gray & white tabby

Last edited by GunnersMom; 04-19-2010 at 10:20 AM.
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post #5 of 33 (permalink) Old 04-19-2010, 10:52 AM
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Wow! What a bunch hooey trying to attribute human characteristics to our dogs. Sounds like he came right out of a positive reinforcement only advertisement.

If dogs are not dominant to each other I wonder how he would explain some dogs deferring to others in a group? Maybe the submissive dog just wants to be nice to the other one?
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post #6 of 33 (permalink) Old 04-19-2010, 12:36 PM
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I think it is very good, and strongly put which is necessary because the idea of dominance, and all the alpha baloney is so deeply ingrained in people.

I do not know whether or not dogs have free will. In religion, people were given free will, not animals, animals are driven by instinct. They are basically driven by what feels good, rewards, punishment. And yet we have dogs that do things out of context, with no possible way to believe there would be an award associated. So perhaps they have some component of free will, or may be they are actually sometimes driven by a deeper instinct that we cannot even define.

The instinct to survive is very strong and varied, but I do not know that they really have the kind of free will that humans have.

People label defiant behavior wrongly as often as they label dominant behavior wrongly.

I have a pack of bitches and I can affirm that some are more dominant than others. But, this does not extend to their behavior toward me at all.

All of the things people say you should not allow, I have allowed, pulling, going through doorways, sitting on the couch, eating before me, feeding tidbits while cooking or eating myself. Sorry, but not one of my dogs has ever shown the least bit of dominance or aggression toward me -- well, I suppose Babsy hogging all the pillows in my bed could be...

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post #7 of 33 (permalink) Old 04-19-2010, 12:55 PM
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One thing that we should all remember - "Dogs are not people!". They don't think like we do and they do not have emotions like we do - they are dogs!

Selzer, I also do things and sometimes allow my dogs to do things that we are not supposed to do. With some dogs it doesn't make a bit of difference in their pack behavior. With other dogs it really does make a difference.

Doggy dominance and the alpha dog is real - you can see it in most groups of dogs. How else to explain why dogs will defer to other dogs in a group?

How many of us have had a dog growl when you went to take away a toy or a bone or got to close to their filled food dish? What did you do then?

I have had one of my dogs, a 9 mo male GSD puppy I raised from an 8 week old, growl at me when i went to take a bone away from him one day in the house. I grabbed by the scruff of his neck, growled a low fierce "NO" at him and took the bone, never again did he try to growl at me again. No big Alpha roll or "abuse" or anything else but Fritz now understood that he was not the dominant dog in the house. By the way this dog out of German Sieger parent went on to become a great Sch dog as well as a very friendly home pet.

What do you think a "Positive Only Reinforcement" advocate would have suggested that I do when he growledat me for trying to take his bone? Could it have worked better? Convinced Fritz that he should let me take the bone better than a show of dominance did?
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post #8 of 33 (permalink) Old 04-19-2010, 01:00 PM
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I agree with some of what he said and some i don't agree with.

Like one where he says if the dog isn't responding to something it is probably confused and popping isn't necessary.

For one, Josie used to always Come on first call. There were times where she decided NOT to listen to "come" and she knows what i want her to do. The light pop was applied and she ended up coming. Every since then she does come when called the first time.

Another incident when she was around 6 months old, i got to the whole idea of pp. She kept jumping on people when they greet, i did not apply the correction and would tell her "off". But she still does it anyway. The next time she jumped on someone i popped that leash and gave the firm "off!". She has stopped jumping ever since after a few repitition. This goes the same for leash walking too. PP don't always work for her because she will go further because she knows she can do it.

I agree with him that you don't have to be a bully, there are extremist out there, one that does PP and one that does full out dominance/bullying/military type of training.

I don't do alpha rolls or any of that like the guy mentioned because it's not necessary imo.

I find the middle ground and see what works for Josie, she does respond well to light to medium correction, hard corrections makes her stop responding. My Sheltie however thrives for PP. Every dog is different there is no one training that works for all dogs.

I did like how he mentioned in the end to find professional trainers if you Do have a dominant/aggressive dog.

Last edited by Josiebear; 04-19-2010 at 01:03 PM.
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post #9 of 33 (permalink) Old 04-19-2010, 01:29 PM
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They don't think like we do and they do not have emotions like we do - they are dogs!
I'm not so sure about that. They may not think like we do. I believe they're driven by basic instinct much more than we are ("I want xyz... how do I get it?") But I've seen them use some pretty impressive reasoning to get what they want.

When it comes to emotions, I would challenge anyone to convince me that they don't share many of our human emotions. They may show it differently and it may be driven by different factors, but they're the same emotions. They feel happiness and sadness just like we do. They grieve the loss of a family member. They feel love and fear just as we do. I'd even go so far as to say that they experience jealousy.
I've seen all of this in my dogs and people can think I'm a nut if they choose to do so, but I've never heard an explanation that could convince me it's something else.

Deni
Owned by:
Gunner - GSD - 7 years
Riley - Golden Retriever - 2 1/2 years
Jake - (aka Demon kitty) Gray & white tabby
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post #10 of 33 (permalink) Old 04-19-2010, 02:59 PM
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I'm not so sure about that. They may not think like we do. I believe they're driven by basic instinct much more than we are ("I want xyz... how do I get it?") But I've seen them use some pretty impressive reasoning to get what they want. When it comes to emotions, I would challenge anyone to convince me that they don't share many of our human emotions. They may show it differently and it may be driven by different factors, but they're the same emotions. They feel happiness and sadness just like we do. They grieve the loss of a family member. They feel love and fear just as we do. I'd even go so far as to say that they experience jealousy.
I've seen all of this in my dogs and people can think I'm a nut if they choose to do so, but I've never heard an explanation that could convince me it's something else.
Obviously, you can feel anyway you want to but dogs are animals, not human!

They are very nice and I love my dog, but still remember that he is a dog, an animal - a totally different species from us.
"They feel love and fear just as we do" - what convinced you of this?

And did you mean all dogs or just yours or maybe just certain breeds?

BTW, how can you tell if a dog is happy?
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