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This is a great thread so thanks to everyone for their contributions. I was interested to read about the "alpha role" b/c my girl started doing it with me just a few days into knowing each other. And since then, she pretty much does it anytime that I pet her which can be kind of funny.

Interestingly, she's one to try to "top from the bottom" in that she is pretty much passive aggressive. At least I know that she trusts me even if she's still learning who is really the boss.
 

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This is a great thread so thanks to everyone for their contributions. I was interested to read about the "alpha role" b/c my girl started doing it with me just a few days into knowing each other. And since then, she pretty much does it anytime that I pet her which can be kind of funny.

Interestingly, she's one to try to "top from the bottom" in that she is pretty much passive aggressive. At least I know that she trusts me even if she's still learning who is really the boss.
She probably just wants a belly rub :rolleyes:

It's amazing to see how far behind America is with dog behaviour compared to the UK.
 

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Great Info...

Establishing Dominance


The alpha roll was repopularized in the book 'How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend' by the Monks of New Skete which came out in the late 70's or early 80's. Before that it faded in and out of popularity and use.

I'm told that in the latest edition of this book the alpha roll is no longer included as a training tool.

To perform the roll you're supposed to grab the dog by the excess skin around his neck, force him backwards into a sit and then roll him to one side. Some trainers advocate rolling him all the way onto his back. The idea is that you're simulating something that dogs do to one another when the dominant dog is displaying his dominance to the submissive dog.

But it's just not so. If you watch some dogs at play, for example at a dog park or the zoo, or watch the Discovery Channel. Use a Video Camera (or record the TV) so you can play it back several times. You'll see what at first looks like an alpha roll but when you examine if carefully it's not even close. When dogs do this, the dominant dog doesn't force the submissive dog to do anything. It's the submissive dog who's doing all the work. The dominant dog puts his foot up on the submissive dog's shoulder or back and the submissive dog rolls himself under the dominant dog.

And so when you do the alpha roll thing you're doing something that's completely foreign to the dog, rather than something he's familiar with. You're showing him that you're bigger and stronger than him, but he already knows that. It's the action of a bully, not a fair and just leader.

Real dogs in the real world don't do anything like this. When a submissive dog rolls himself under the dominant dog it's because he's showing submission. This isn't a case of the dominant dog showing dominance. He's already done that merely by placing his foot on the other dog's shoulder or back and that's the reason that the submissive dog has gone down.

And so the alpha roll as dogs do it, isn't a display of dominance; it's one of submission, where the submissive dog is doing the work. It starts with the dominant dog putting a foot up but the rolling portion, the part that the alpha roll is simulating, is done by the submissive dog. The alpha dog is only present by virtue of his personality, he's not rolling the other dog at all.

If you do this to the right dog (wrong dog) he'll eat you for your trouble. And since the closest thing to bite is your face, that's where you'll get it. It's hard to give an out command when the dog is holding you by the face!

Since 1979 I've been training some of the most dominant, most aggressive, most fearless dogs on the planet. I've never found the alpha roll necessary. I've done it once or twice when I was new and someone told me that I should. It didn't have the desired effect and after thinking about it and talking about it to the right folks, I discarded it.

Domesticated dogs only rarely submissively pee to other dogs, especially members of their own pack. That's reserved almost exclusively for their humans who, without realizing it put the dog into an overly submissive position and the dog has no choice. Some dogs, ones who are extremely low in the pack pecking order, such as the omega dog may show submissive urination every time that a dominant dog (that's every other dog in the pack) approaches, but that's still a rare display.

Your height already provides a cue to the dog that you're dominant. There are some trainers who will tell you to never let your dog stand over you but I think that you need to permit this once in a while. Some trainers tell you to NEVER allow it. But if you think about what I do and how it gets done, training and working police service dogs, you'll realize that it's good to, once in a while get on the ground with your dog and play with him as dogs play together.

Let me paint a picture for you. Imagine the type of handler who's been trained that he has to alpha roll his dog once a week to remain in the alpha position. Also imagine that he's been trained never to let his dog be on top of him. The handler gets into a fight, and like most fights it winds up on the ground. He calls his dog for assistance and as the dog runs to the scene he sees the alpha dog on the ground, someplace he's never seen him. He remembers that this alpha dog has been rolling him every week since they've been together and maintaining his alpha position with brute force. He sees this alpha dog fighting with a complete stranger, someone who's never hurt him or done anything to him before. Do you think it's possible that he'll think that NOW is a good time to challenge the alpha dog and to try to the top of the pack? Could be!

Wouldn't it be better if that dog had been lead by a fair and just pack leader who didn't use physical force to maintain his position? Since the #2 dog has rights that the #3 or #4 doesn't, wouldn't it be better if the dog thought of himself as the #2 dog in the pack not just as any subordinate animal.

If you alpha roll your dog consistently he may become afraid of you. That's not a good relationship, particularly if you want the dog to work protection for you. He'll do it but you might find him "attached" to you occasionally. I think that the best relationship between the handler and the dog is one of mutual trust and respect. A dog that's rolled won't trust the handler, he'll fear him. This may not show up in the form of the dog cowering from the handler, except in extreme circumstances. But there other, much more subtle ways it shows up.

Want to be an Alpha? Begin by acting like one. Stand up tall and act like a leader. Notice that most dogs are submissive to a good trainer just by him walking onto the field. That's because he knows how to stand, carry himself and talk as a leader. He hasn't alpha rolled your dog. He hasn't kicked your dog's butt, but your dog knows, at a glance, who the alpha is. Use a normal voice. When adult dogs play with other adult dogs they use a certain tone of voice (bark). When puppies play with adults or other puppies pitched they use a high pitched yip. If you use a high pitched voice when playing with or praising your adult dog how do you think he thinks of you? As a mature adult capable of leading him? Or as an immature pack member? Now I'm not saying that he'll immediately become alpha if you praise or talk to him in a high pitched voice but I am saying that you're sending a mixed message to him. One that can put some doubts in his mind as to your exact position in the pack.

Being accepted as the alpha doesn't mean that you're the biggest, baddest one in the pack. Anyone who teaches that really doesn't understand what it means to be alpha. In human packs, without the politics, often it's NOT the biggest or strongest one who leads. It's the one who exhibits "leadership qualities." In dog packs it's the same way.

Another part of being alpha has to do with food. In the wild the alpha leads the hunt. He decides which animal the pack will kill and when the eating will begin. Generally you provide the food for your dog so that helps him think of you as the alpha. I suggest that when you get a new dog you spend a couple of weeks hand feeding him. That establishes, even more than just putting down a food bowl, that you're providing his food. Don't let him crowd in and 'demand' the food. Make him stay at a respectful distance and wait for you to give it to him, one handful at a time.

Another way to be fair and just is to be fair with your correction level. The Ecollar is perfect for this because it allows you to dial in exactly the level of correction that your dog needs. Not too high and not too low. It's difficult for the average handler to consistently give the exact level of correction that a dog needs with a leash and conventional training collar.

Play is another way to get this but not the form of play that has the handler throwing a ball for his dog. Watch the Discovery Channel or spend a few hours at the zoo watching wild dogs play. They run, they bump shoulders, they throw hips into one another. Their interaction is quite physical.

Another way to establish dominance and one of my favorites is through yielding. I stole the concept from someone who stole it from horse trainers. Yielding is based on the idea that a submissive animal will move out of the way of a dominant animal. Almost ritualistically the dominant animal will force the submissive animal to give way, even if he doesn't need to. It's just a reminder.

To do this have the dog on leash and start walking into him. Going head to head is probably best, at first. Don't give any commands, just head towards him. When you get real close start quietly saying "move, move, move," Don't kick him and don't bump into him unless it's absolutely necessary. What you are trying to do is to force him to move by the power of your personality. When you do this make sure that you're looking like the alpha. Stand up straight, shoulders back, head erect. Don't stoop forward to look at your dog, that communicates to him that you're not an alpha. Some may need to practice this in front of a mirror before they try it with their dog.

As soon as he does move, step back and praise him lightly. Not enough to break his concentration, but enough so that he knows he got something right. You should see a relaxation of tension in the dog's body. Think of your forward motion as applying pressure. Pressure that the dog can relieve by moving away. At first just one or two steps will relieve the pressure, but as you progress he has to move more to gain relief.

As the training progresses you can approach from slightly off to one side, then directly to one side, then from the rear quarter and finally from the rear. When you start this have him move several times in a row. Once he's caught on you can go to about ten times a day.

This is so subtle that many people believe that it won't have any affect on the dog, particularly one who's very dominant. But it will have more and better effect than a dozen alpha rolls. And it will establish your position with VERY little chance of a handler challenge or an attack on the handler.

If you're going to do an alpha roll you'd better pick the dog you do this on carefully and you'd better make sure that you can kick his ass. You'd also better be ready for a trip to the ER, because sooner or later you're going to miss.

It's really too bad that some people are still caught up in using force all the time for all of their training. It's not necessary. It's hard on the dogs, and it's hard on the handler. AND most importantly it doesn't give a good a working relationship with the dog as more subtle, but still effective methods.
Very true, thanks for telling us all.
 

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What happens though if a dominant (would be Alpha) dog trys to put his paw on the shoulder of another would be Alpha?

For example, I would be VERY surprised if my current dog (4yo male GSD) would ever allow this to take place - it would precipitate an instant and not very nice response! At least so far he has never submitted to any other dog that I can remember except as a small puppy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #86 ·
What happens though if a dominant (would be Alpha) dog trys to put his paw on the shoulder of another would be Alpha?
Usually which dog is dominant is established long before dogs come together. Often it happens within seconds of having set eyes on each other. When they do come together there will be some sort of greeting behavior that confirms the way that they perceive each other.

But if, as you say two quite dominant dogs come together, they will each realize this before they come together physically. They'll show an entirely different set of greeting behaviors than occurs if one dog acknowledges that the other is dominant. One of them will probably try to put his foot on the shoulder of the other one, at some point. If the second one does not submit, you'll see a display that is pretty scary for the APO (average pet owner – whatever that means). It will involve what many people perceive as a dog fight, but it rarely is.

There's lots of growling, pawing at each other, chest bumping, teeth showing and spit flying. It's usually very loud and many people mistake this for actual battle. But it rarely is. It's another display that allows the dogs to determine which one is dominant without any damage being done to either one of them. But if one of the dogs has not been socialized with other dogs, or one of them does not submit, it can turn into an actual fight.
 

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It will involve what many people perceive as a dog fight, but it rarely is.

There's lots of growling, pawing at each other, chest bumping, teeth showing and spit flying. It's usually very loud and many people mistake this for actual battle. But it rarely is. It's another display that allows the dogs to determine which one is dominant without any damage being done to either one of them. But if one of the dogs has not been socialized with other dogs, or one of them does not submit, it can turn into an actual fight.
With the dogs in and out of our place, we've had lots of these very noisy 'battles' that never resulted in injury or problems, and a few actual fights with bloodshed and vet visits. For the most part, the fights actually happened more with insecure dogs, not confident dogs that could be considered dominant. I say considered, because I think that very few dogs are really really trying to be dominant over everybody and everything else.

I have seen many dogs that others might call dominant throw off lots of calming signals to other dogs, and solve issues without ever resorting to fighting. It's pretty amazing how well some dogs can communicate with others, and how much dogs can learn from those dogs over time.
 

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If the second one does not submit, you'll see a display that is pretty scary for the APO (average pet owner – whatever that means). It will involve what many people perceive as a dog fight, but it rarely is.

There's lots of growling, pawing at each other, chest bumping, teeth showing and spit flying. It's usually very loud and many people mistake this for actual battle. But it rarely is. It's another display that allows the dogs to determine which one is dominant without any damage being done to either one of them. But if one of the dogs has not been socialized with other dogs, or one of them does not submit, it can turn into an actual fight.
I call this an argument. Raven and Kaiser have had a few and I was actually surprised by who came out "on top". It wasn't the dog that is typically yielded to in every day interactions.
 

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I've been pushed into the world of dog training out of necessity. Our Jake is a hellion on wheels because I let my husband follow the 'alpha' and 'dominance' type training with him even though I never liked it.

Now that Jake is 10 months old, we have a 70 pound dog that thinks he can get away with anything.

We met with a trainer last weekend who uses Positive Reinforcement and Clicker Training. I have been diligently working with Jake every day to help resolve the counter surfing, stealing objects, jumping on people, etc. I can now allow Jake in the kitchen with me while cooking where I couldn't a week ago. I heavily rewarded Jake when he'd come into the kitchen and not jump on the counter or when he sat/lay down beside me. I'm still doing a lot of heavy rewarding because we are still very early in our training days. Put my husband in the kitchen and Jake goes backwards and continues jumping on the counter.

I whole heartedly believe in Positive Reinforcement now that I'm starting to see improvements in less than a week.

My husband hasn't bought into the whole idea yet and doesn't want to let go of his old dominance ideas. Jake continues to be wild and out of control with him. I'm not saying Jake is perfect with me yet, but he comes 'here' about 80% of the time when I ask him to and he spends a lot more time watching me waiting for direction. I think it is a lot less confusing for dogs because we are letting them know what we expect of them, as opposed to punishing them when they do something wrong. I don't understand how you could have a dog behave how you want it to without letting him/her know what behavior is expected and acceptable.

Shepherd's are smart dogs and I consider training with Jake a job for him .... he really seems to enjoy our training sessions. Right now, Jake is not free fed any food. He has to work for every piece of food he gets. I use a combination of treat balls and stuffed kongs to work off energy and save the other half of his meal for training purposes.

I'm waiting for the 'why is Jake better behaved with you?' question from my husband or being embarassed in front of the trainer when she figures out he hasn't been doing any of the homework she assigned to us.
 

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Always enjoy your posts Lou! Thank you for keeping us thinking and giving us value information :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #91 ·
I've been pushed into the world of dog training out of necessity. Our Jake is a hellion on wheels because I let my husband follow the 'alpha' and 'dominance' type training with him even though I never liked it.
Can you be a bit more specific please? I'm not sure what it means to "follow the 'alpha' and 'dominance' type training" Can you tell us the specific method being used?
 

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This topic is WRONG. Do not try to establish dominance over your dog. Instead, establish a wonderful bond with him or her. He or she will learn to trust you. You must set limits on his or her behavior for the dog's own good. But don't be an ARSE who thinks that a primate with tools and command over all of the resources must establish dominance over his dog. Anyone who suggests as much to you doesn't understand dogs, or wolves, or what makes for a good, lasting bond between a person and a dog, and the last thing you would want to do is rely on such a person for any guidance about how to teach your dog.
 

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Discussion Starter · #94 ·
This topic is WRONG. Do not try to establish dominance over your dog. Instead, establish a wonderful bond with him or her. He or she will learn to trust you. You must set limits on his or her behavior for the dog's own good. But don't be an ARSE who thinks that a primate with tools and command over all of the resources must establish dominance over his dog. Anyone who suggests as much to you doesn't understand dogs, or wolves, or what makes for a good, lasting bond between a person and a dog, and the last thing you would want to do is rely on such a person for any guidance about how to teach your dog.
Wondering Zola22, did you read anything beyond the title of the thread? The article is about, as you say, establishing "a good lasting bond between a person and a dog."
 

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Topics aren't wrong, they are worth discussing or not worth discussing. This one is pretty old though. And yet, probably worth discussing again.
 

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Experts have definitively concluded that our old assumptions about wolf behavior are erroneously drawn from the observation of WOLVES IN CAPTIVITY, who, in this unnatural state, exhibit exaggerated displays of dominance and submission. But wolves in nature exist in extraordinarily loyal family groups: The father and mother remain together until one or the other dies. They have cubs and care together for the cubs. When one generation grows up, they help their parents to care for the next generation of cubs. They do not eat before the cubs. On the contrary, the father (and the mother if she can, and the older cubs) come back to the den and regurgitate their food so that the youngest can eat, and they eat first. The young always remain loyal and defer to their parents, even when the parents enter their declining years. They are extraordinarily loyal and devoted family units. That is how wolves in the wild actually behave. It is a fact, confirmed by observation.

Dogs are like this too, except that they have literally learned to regard their human caretaker as their adoptive PARENT, even though they recognize that this adoptive PARENT belongs to a different species, a distinctly primate species.

Dogs, like wolves, thrive in loyal families that look after one another. They always regard their caretaker as a parent.

Just as a good parent will not spoil his or her children but rather will give them the structure, guidance and sometimes the discipline that a child requires in order to be raised well, so too a good adoptive parent will treat his or her dog this way.

The biggest difference is that dogs require INSTANTANEOUS instruction: You cannot tell a dog what he did in the past that was wrong, or what you want him to do the next time around. You have to catch him in the act and say, NO. More important, you have to catch him in the act of doing the right thing and reward him in that very moment with "YES," "GOOD BOY", etc. Eventually your dog will learn what you want him to do, and if he loves and trusts you he will do it. In the meantime do not let him practice bad habits.
And for God's sake do not develop fantasies about how you must dominate him or else he will dominate you.

This is all pretty well established now. It's a pity so many people still follow discredited theories about dominance and submission. It doesn't usually work, it leads to terrified, unhappy dogs, and it ruins the kind of bond that you should WANT to have with your dog!

I can confirm the above not only from what I have learned from learned books, but above all from what I have observed in my own dogs!
 

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Wondering Zola22, did you read anything beyond the title of the thread? The article is about, as you say, establishing "a good lasting bond between a person and a dog."
So I log on to see if I can delete my account and find this thread, which I have read in it's entirety. Avid Lou Castle follower, even if the e collar didn't work. I agree with the theory and the methods. Since I have a fluid, multi dog household and a severely problematic mess of a dog besides, I use most of these methods daily and without ever thinking about it and all things considered I have a relatively peaceful house. I'm going to guess and say it's working well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #98 ·
Experts have definitively concluded that our old assumptions about wolf behavior are erroneously drawn from the observation of WOLVES IN CAPTIVITY, who, in this unnatural state, exhibit exaggerated displays of dominance and submission.

Zolla22 might I suggest that you actually read the article instead of assuming what it says? You might be surprised.
 

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Discussion Starter · #99 ·
So I log on to see if I can delete my account and find this thread, which I have read in it's entirety. Avid Lou Castle follower, even if the e collar didn't work. I agree with the theory and the methods.
Thanks for the vote Sabis mom. I've never had anyone who didn't succeed with the Ecollar if they were following my methods. I've had a few who had problems and I discovered that they weren't following the protocols correctly. Feel free to contact me privately or better yet, send me an email. Happy to help if you're interested.
 

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Experts have definitively concluded that our old assumptions about wolf behavior are erroneously drawn from the observation of WOLVES IN CAPTIVITY, who, in this unnatural state, exhibit exaggerated displays of dominance and submission. But wolves in nature exist in extraordinarily loyal family groups: The father and mother remain together until one or the other dies. They have cubs and care together for the cubs. When one generation grows up, they help their parents to care for the next generation of cubs. They do not eat before the cubs. On the contrary, the father (and the mother if she can, and the older cubs) come back to the den and regurgitate their food so that the youngest can eat, and they eat first. The young always remain loyal and defer to their parents, even when the parents enter their declining years. They are extraordinarily loyal and devoted family units. That is how wolves in the wild actually behave. It is a fact, confirmed by observation.

Dogs are like this too, except that they have literally learned to regard their human caretaker as their adoptive PARENT, even though they recognize that this adoptive PARENT belongs to a different species, a distinctly primate species.

Dogs, like wolves, thrive in loyal families that look after one another. They always regard their caretaker as a parent.

Just as a good parent will not spoil his or her children but rather will give them the structure, guidance and sometimes the discipline that a child requires in order to be raised well, so too a good adoptive parent will treat his or her dog this way.

The biggest difference is that dogs require INSTANTANEOUS instruction: You cannot tell a dog what he did in the past that was wrong, or what you want him to do the next time around. You have to catch him in the act and say, NO. More important, you have to catch him in the act of doing the right thing and reward him in that very moment with "YES," "GOOD BOY", etc. Eventually your dog will learn what you want him to do, and if he loves and trusts you he will do it. In the meantime do not let him practice bad habits.
And for God's sake do not develop fantasies about how you must dominate him or else he will dominate you.

This is all pretty well established now. It's a pity so many people still follow discredited theories about dominance and submission. It doesn't usually work, it leads to terrified, unhappy dogs, and it ruins the kind of bond that you should WANT to have with your dog!

I can confirm the above not only from what I have learned from learned books, but above all from what I have observed in my own dogs!
Dog/human/other dog interactions are closer built to the captive model, than the generic, Natural free roaming wild wolf pack culture...

I dont understand how people don't see this...

All positive trainers, keep bringing this up... But its fallible argument.

There is clear recordings of captive packs... Whereby sometimes newer introduced puppies actually establish higher rank than their older siblings who were already in the pack...

Dog-human-2nd dog-etc relationship is based on introduction at various time frames. An order will naturally arise most of the time... Sometimes not... However this relationship has a lot more to do with captive than naturaly wild born off-spring...

All species react because you have something you have, want, or they see as desirable...
This is a Machiavellian philosophy...
However there is no completely selfless act in any species.

Also nobody ever said you correct a dog, after the act... No competent trainer does that... Dont know where you got that. All positive or not.
 
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