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I actually have an observation from a couple of hours ago.I was out in the yard with all three dogs.One was in the kennel busy chewing her toy.Samson was snuffling around the perimeter while I was playing fetch with Misty.Samson decides HE wants to play with Misty and rushes up and grabs her by the throat.She totally ignores him even though he was pretty obnoxious pushing her around.She practically had a 'word balloon' over her head "Good Grief!What a pain little brothers can be!" (He's twice her size).
An outside observer might think he's a domineering bully.He couldn't convince her to wrestle so he gave it up and laid down to watch us resume our game.All three of them start wrestling games with each other in the same way,so in their group body slams and pretending to rip each other's throats out is just for fun.There's never a winner.When one wants to stop he or she just stops and looks away for a moment,the other ones pause a few seconds(Are you sure ?)Then they stop just like that.
wm97 mentioned one of his dogs liked to hoard chewables.Mine will do that too,mostly Misty,lol!She'll gather up all three bones and lay on them then give the other two the stink eye.After a while she'll back off a little and allow them to creep up and pick one up.They never fight,and yes I always supervise when they have bones to chew.When food is involved they are always polite and respectful.I'm fortunate to have a peaceful pack.
Dogs are the most successful animal evolution has ever produced. You might think it was humans, but think about the old Jerry Seinfeld joke. If you saw an animal walking down the street, with another animal walking behind it picking up its poop, who would you think was in charge?

I can go catch rabbits and eat them myself, or I can have my servants bring me freshly prepared meat twice a day. If the bigger dog takes my food dish, I know my servant will yell at them and comfort me and probably give me an extra treat in front of the bully just to spite them. Who really needs dominance over anything?

Dogs succeed not because they are such great dominators themselves, but because they have learned how to cooperate with humans better than anyone else -- including other humans. The reason humans love dogs so much is because dogs spend all day long trying to please the humans. That behavioral trait doesn't just appear with humans. Dogs live by cooperation, not so much by dominance. If there is more than one dog in the house, they know they have to suppress the dominance in favor of whatever the human wants. If they beat up the little mutt or even treat it unfairly, they know it will be trouble. (And dogs do understand "fair" which is another thing to consider in thinking about dominance.) Same as you knew you couldn't beat up your little brother whenever he ticked you off so you are better off putting up with some of his BS.

Why does the ten pound mutt need protection when the big ones know they will get yelled at if they hurt her or even treat her unfairly? The big ones know it is better to sit and wait until one of the chew toys gets loose. That also tells you a lot about dog intelligence.
 

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wm97 I think you're trying to say you believe your little dog is dominant?Or are you asking for opinions on what other members think is going on?Perhaps she is.I had a little Yorkie mix a few years ago that thought he was "all that".He was a force to be reckoned with for sure.R.I.P. Devo.
I am asking, from a logical standpoint -- if the ideas about dominance are correct, then how do you explain any dog clearly dominating an animal ten times it's size? No matter how feisty the little dog may be, that doesn't happen unless the big dog cooperates. In the world of the jungle, the little dog who hoarded the chew toy would be dead before they could get out a good yelp. Therefore, the little dog's "dominance" isn't what you would normally think of as "dominance."
 

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I believe that dominance is a range with submissive on one end being a 0, dominant on the other being a 10 with normal lying somewhere in the middle.

I think when most people have trouble with a dog and they blame it on dominance that the truth more likely is that the dog is a 4-6 on the scale while the human is a 2-3. Thus, it is not the dog being dominant that is the problem but often it is the human being submissive and ineffective.
 

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Ok,so you're talking about dominant behavior over many species?I'm coming from the perspective of the behavior exclusively of domestic dogs in a household.That's my only experience.
 

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I believe that dominance is a range with submissive on one end being a 0, dominant on the other being a 10 with normal lying somewhere in the middle.

I think when most people have trouble with a dog and they blame it on dominance that the truth more likely is that the dog is a 4-6 on the scale while the human is a 2-3. Thus, it is not the dog being dominant that is the problem but often it is the human being submissive and ineffective.
I believe that using the word "dominance" in a dog-human relationship fundamentally distorts the picture from the beginning. There is no benefit in the dog being dominant over its favorite human at any time. In fact, a dog who really tries to be dominant over a human will likely end in being homeless or put down. If a dog acted dominant towards humans like a wolf would do, you would kill it on the first day. The same thing might happen if the dog was unduly aggressive with other dogs in the family. Dominance won't make them eat any better -- because the human will enforce food shares -- but it might get them killed.

Dogs live by cooperation, with both humans and other dogs. That is what they do naturally. I believe it is better to describe the situation as a stupid human unable to consistently communicate with the dog who wants to do his absolute best to please. It isn't dominance, but more like a four-year-old who hasn't been potty trained. The four-year-old isn't trying to dominate you with a dirty diaper. They just don't understand that you really object to it and how to solve the problem. Therefore, treating the dirty diaper as a dominance issue is not going to get the best results.
 

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Ok,so you're talking about dominant behavior over many species?I'm coming from the perspective of the behavior exclusively of domestic dogs in a household.That's my only experience.
My question was specifically about domestic dogs, in a situation that would only be encountered in domestic dogs. The little dog dominating one ten times its size simply would not happen anywhere else but inside the home where they know a human is enforcing the rules. It couldn't. It looks ridiculous to even watch the little dog pushing the big one around. No animal would let a much smaller animal push it around if it was really "dominance".

Therefore, it isn't really "dominance." It's a form of conscious cooperation with very specific limits.
 

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I believe that what some people are defining as dominance might be more that a dog is game especially when referring to terriers, even Yorkies. Game as in to fight to the finish despite grave physical harm, something I attribute to a lack of self preservation. When considered from that viewpoint, it is easy to dismiss the concept of dominance where a small dog bullies or threatens a large dog. The small dog might be game while the large dog has a stronger sense of self preservation and is not looking for a frivolous fight where a small game dog wouldn't care.

Most dog fights are bluff and noise, survival of the species. By avoiding injuries, the dogs get to live to pass on their genetics. Wolves don't kill pack members or interlopers as often as others would have you think. It is quite uncommon, self preservation.

Regarding dogs taking on a larger animal, look at the moderately sized Karelian Bear Dogs. I hear they are quite fierce and effective in their endeavors.
 

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I couldn't decipher what the question was.So among your pack you are seeing what you call voluntary cooperation.Got it:)
 

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I believe that dominance and submission are inherent traits. I believe it holds true for humans too. I think calling an inherently submissive person "stupid" is unfair and unkind. We all deal with the cards we were dealt genetically and being somewhat submissive does not make one stupid or undesirable, just different. We know in dogs that their inherent traits can be enhanced or diminished with environment and nurture. I don't think you will find things much different in humans.
 

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And yes,terriers are fierce little things!Gotta be to take on rats and weasles.
 

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Not sure what part of the post you would like to see on video.

There is no pushing other males away from females with the older male. I start separating him from other males when the youngsters approach a year. I have seen him pull a puppy pass on a 6 month old dog. My mistake for not stopping the young male's over exuberant overtures not realizing the magnitude of the correction that would be meted out. I do not place any two of my adult males together let alone with a female among them particularly with that dog.

Just a side note, when a male is still young enough to be safely run with the big male and a female, the young males tend to focus on appeasement and subservient behaviors with the big male rather than bother with the females for the better part. The big male is supremely tolerant of these behaviors in young pups and almost seems embarrassed by all of the affection but at the same time appears to immensely enjoy puppies. He abhors these behaviors when it comes from a juvenile male. Juvenile being defined as after puberty.
How many dogs do you have? How do you manage working/training/ exercise them all? Esp if they have to be rotated? And you have mailnois? Sounds like a lot

Just curious.
 

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Regarding a dog attempting to dominate a human, there is much that can be gained. That roast on the table vs a bowl of kibble, staying inside or out, sleeping on the owner's bed vs the crate, monopoly on attention and affection, refusing to be leashed up at the park to leave...the list goes on, when the dog does it with aggression.
 

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How many dogs do you have? How do you manage working/training/ exercise them all? Esp if they have to be rotated? And you have mailnois? Sounds like a lot

Just curious.
I am early retired and a rabid hiker. I have three outdoor kennels and a yard fenced in two. The dogs get exercise on hikes and swimming as well as playing with each other in matched pairs, and yes, I even use dog parks when appropriate.

IMO, training is what one does to address a dog's drives. Off leash hiking without nagging the dogs accomplishes the same things as tracking, dock diving, agility, etc., all done on nature's playground as nature has provided. We are huge fans of Adventure Training here.
 

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Regarding a dog attempting to dominate a human, there is much that can be gained. That roast on the table vs a bowl of kibble, staying inside or out, sleeping on the owner's bed vs the crate, monopoly on attention and affection, refusing to be leashed up at the park to leave...the list goes on, when the dog does it with aggression.
"That roast on the table vs a bowl of kibble,"

He might get ONE. That would require a REALLY STUPID dog -- one that would not learn even from the worst reactions. Any dog that did it more than once would find himself homeless.

" staying inside or out,"

That's not dependent on whether the dog is dominant. That's the owner's choice and the dog can't open the door when the owner locks it. No ordinary dog is going to stand there and defy you if you tell it to go out the door.

" sleeping on the owner's bed vs the crate,"

How is that "dominance" unless it refuses to move when the owner tells it to get off the bed? And how stupid would the owner have to be to accept that?
Again, it is a really stupid dog that won't cooperate with its owner, and a stupider owner for accepting it. That's a failure to communicate, not a dominance issue.

" monopoly on attention and affection,"

How would you tell the difference between "dominance" and the simple fact that cuddling feels really good, any time at all, and, if someone is handing some out, I want to get some, too?

With any similar example, ask yourself whether the desired activity feels good. If it feels good, then you don't need dominance to explain it. I have had dogs for decades. I can't recall ever seeing any dog that would turn down some good feel-good affection. In fact, they will put up with all kinds of misery just to get a little of it.

" refusing to be leashed up at the park to leave"

How would you tell the difference between the dog "dominating" you and the dog simply loving the fun and being too distracted to pay attention like he would at home? Suppose you took your five year old to Disneyland and they didn't pay attention and weren't cooperative when you said that you had to go. Are they trying to dominate you? Or is this another thing that can be fully explained by the fact that something feels good?

"...the list goes on, when the dog does it with aggression."

Does it with "aggression"? Against the owner? Are you talking about dogs that really, really don't understand how good they have it and think they would be better off in the dog pound? What are you doing that your dogs think it is a good idea to try to bite you? I have had dozens of dogs over the years. I have never had one that was so completely stupid that they thought aggression was a good idea. That sounds like a really good way to become really dead really quick.
 

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Regarding a dog attempting to dominate a human, there is much that can be gained. That roast on the table vs a bowl of kibble, staying inside or out, sleeping on the owner's bed vs the crate, monopoly on attention and affection, refusing to be leashed up at the park to leave...the list goes on, when the dog does it with aggression.
Let's also note that wanting to sleep on the bed is something that can be fully explained without any reference to dominance. My dogs want to be in physical contact with me pretty much 24/7. It feels good to have someone warm and loving sleeping near you. It brings love and comfort and security. There are lots of reasons to sleep on the bed that have nothing to do with dominance.
 

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Regarding a dog attempting to dominate a human, there is much that can be gained. That roast on the table vs a bowl of kibble, staying inside or out, sleeping on the owner's bed vs the crate, monopoly on attention and affection, refusing to be leashed up at the park to leave...the list goes on, when the dog does it with aggression.
Consider the math. Suppose you live with an animal that is three times your size who towers over you and is obviously a lot smarter than you are. What animal is going to think domination is going to be a winning approach? It just doesn't make sense. If you read about animal aggression you will find that animals can figure out that much math, all the way down to crickets.
 

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Well, few anecdotal notes from my experience...

I do agree that animals work out a hierarchy of access to food, mates, etc. I have observed it in every pet I have had, including guinea pigs (one piggy would get the best hidey hole, and we even had to separate guinea pigs when the "alpha pig" began not letting the "submissive pig" drink from the water bottle). Other dog owners have told me about their small fierce dogs who are "alpha" over their larger, more easygoing dogs. And animal hierarchies are shown on all the nature shows too...

My dog seems to be highly ranked in dog hierarchies. His foster mom told us that he gets along with "submissive males" best, and that he used to shoulder the other dogs out of the way to climb onto the couch. I've seen other dogs lay down or pee as he approaches, and he also gets "kissed" on the side of his face sometimes. He has faced off multiple large dogs with hackles raised and snarling, and seems ready to die in a puddle on his own blood rather than ever submit (sigh). He's braver than I am...

What has puzzled me is that I am a submissive softspoken kind of human, gentle and not very strict. He listens to me well and I have no issues with him at all - he is eager to do my bidding and easy to correct. Often I grab him on both sides of his neckruff and kiss him on the top of the head (a very dominant act in animal language, but he just wags his tail and smiles).

I concluded that there are animal hierarchies / rankings but they do not often extend the hierarchy outside of their own species. Things that owners label as "dominance" are often more accurately labeled as "the dog has learned what it can get away with to get food/attention/toy". I think a lot of dogs get hit/jerked around/whacked/punished for "dominance" reasons when really what is needed is clear patient consistent training.
 

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First I think you need to go back and amend your questions to include "done with aggression".

I need to add here that I disagree with your comment about dogs living to please people. Even biddable dogs have been known to offer behaviors to avoid doing what they don't want to do, not to be confused with a lack of clarity of what is being asked of them.

Maybe I have just read many more threads than you have but all of the behaviors I suggested for what does a dog have to gain by not cooperating are common problems on this forum.

Counter surfing and growling to keep the booty, dogs not coming in when called, failing to get off the bed or move on command and reacting aggressively. pushing its way between adults on the couch or being aggressive toward an SO being affectionate to their SO, refusing to be leashed up at a park or being collar aggressive are common problems. Do not confuse my awareness of other people's dogs exhibiting these behaviors with my dogs having these issues.

Not sure where you saw that I said that my dogs bite me or are aggressive with me. I don't recall stating anything so totally false. I did, however, mention my dominant dog not taking an UNFAIR correction. Got to admire a dog that will stand tall to defend himself. It will shine through if you ever really need him.

You stated: "The GSD is easily smart enough to tell that his life is better if he just submits and puts up with all your human BS." This is a GSD forum where a lot of people work their dogs. Submissive might be good for a busy young family but I doubt it would be conducive to any real work venues including sheep herding. I hear some rams can be quite large and recalcitrant.

I am a firm leader not a tyrant that makes life and death decisions for my loved dogs based on a stolen roast. I value my dogs more that that and I am not motivated by ego or having to prove anything. We have a cooperative, two sided relationship. :) My dogs lives matter.

Seems to me that many 60-70# dogs are very willing to fight 240# men, just look at all of the Mal K9s and MWDs.

Tell me, just how much experience do you have with German Shepherds and with what breeds are you primarily experienced? I suspect it's not the herders.
 

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Also...this is more to islanddog's original topic...

but if you watch wolf videos you can see canine hierarchy behavior. A lower ranking wolf will lower its body and "arc" around the higher ranking wolf, which stands straight with head held high. A lower ranking wolf may lick the muzzle of a higher ranking wolf or even (in extreme appeasement) roll over and display its belly to the higher ranked wolf.

It's always fascinating to see similar behaviors acted out at the dog park or even when two dogs meet on leash. For instance, my dog always approaches other dogs with high head, pricked ears, high tail. If the other dog does not lower its head a bit or give the subtle signals of deference, there will be growling (trash talking) between the two. If the other dog is friendly and easygoing, my dog will relax as well - and there will be buttsniffing.

My neighbor has a big black lab named Mimi, who despite her size and big deep bark, is very submissive. Whenever my dog and I approach, she will lay down or urinate. So it's clearly not just size that goes into a more dominant dog personality!
 

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"First I think you need to go back and amend your questions to include "done with aggression"."

Maybe you need to explain what "done with aggression" means, exactly. Just how suicidal are the dogs you are describing?

"I need to add here that I disagree with your comment about dogs living to please people. Even biddable dogs have been known to offer behaviors to avoid doing what they don't want to do, not to be confused with a lack of clarity of what is being asked of them."

The latest science on dog-human relationships says that it is not a pack relationship. Instead, it is "imprinting", as geese do with their mothers at a certain age. Imprinting is not a relationship where the imprinter wants to dominate. If you are correct in your dog mind-reading and have actually determined the reasons for his behavior, the fact that something is unpleasant for him, or that he is bored with it, is fully enough explanation for him trying to avoid it without any concerns about dominating you.

"Maybe I have just read many more threads than you have but all of the behaviors I suggested for what does a dog have to gain by not cooperating are common problems on this forum."

All of the behaviors you mentioned are far more easily explained by "feels good and nobody told me not to." If the behavior feels good, there is no reason to go to some complicated idea about dominance.

"Counter surfing"

Feels good. Gets food. Nobody caught me. That's all the explanation you need. And most of my dogs have been big enough to take the food off the counter without any effort at all. With the latest batch, one of them did it once. They got scolded and they both learned the lesson and it never happened again. They will sit there two feet away from the food with drool dripping down their face but they won't touch it because they know their human would not like it -- from being told one time. That's not dominance.

" and growling to keep the booty,"

Dogs growl at their owner? And you think that is a "normal" relationship with a dog? How stupid is that dog that it wants to flirt with a trip to the pound? I have seen that happen with other people's dogs. I remember thinking that they had a poor relationship with the dog even before that happened.

" dogs not coming in when called,":

Again, if it feels good then you don't need any explanation about dominance. Kids refuse to come in from play, too. Does that mean they are trying to dominate you?

"failing to get off the bed or move on command and reacting aggressively."

So your dog does not obey your commands, won't go where you tell it, and when you give it commands it growls and acts like it might get mean if you push it. Wow! Really? And you think that is a normal relationship with a dog? Why do you assume that is not something seriously wrong with the owner?

" pushing its way between adults on the couch"

It feels good to cuddle with your friends. That's all the explanation you need, and it would trump dominance any day.

" or being aggressive toward an SO being affectionate to their SO,"

Dogs start growling if you hug someone? Wow! What kind of relationship with an animal is that? This dog is so stupid that they don't understand the family unit?

" refusing to be leashed up at a park"

As stated before, you have the full explanation if you have ever seen a five-year-old. They are having fun and don't want it to stop. At that moment, they aren't really thinking about you.

" or being collar aggressive are common problems."

Again with the dog aggression with its human. If I had that much "aggression" problem with any dog, I would be re-examining my own approach. Every dog I have ever had will put up with anything from its humans, without complaint, and no attempt to dominate them was required.

" Do not confuse my awareness of other people's dogs exhibiting these behaviors with my dogs having these issues."

Then how do you know they have them? How do you know they are not just inaccurately describing behaviors based on something they heard that has no basis in fact?

"Not sure where you saw that I said that my dogs bite me or are aggressive with me."

Your message is full of it. Where does all that "aggression" come from? If you don't see it in your dogs, then why do you assume that other people are doing their dog training correctly and interpreting behaviors correctly?

" I don't recall stating anything so totally false."

You are clearly hung up on aggression for some reason. It doesn't seem likely that all of that would be from hearing other people's stories.

" I did, however, mention my dominant dog not taking an UNFAIR correction. Got to admire a dog that will stand tall to defend himself. It will shine through if you ever really need him."

So your dog determines what is fair and then tells you to back off?? Wow, again! Never happened with me. Fair or unfair, the dogs accept it. BTW, that sounds like your dog is getting "aggressive" with you. If my dog did that I would wonder where I went wrong -- and I don't mean just that one correction.

"You stated: "The GSD is easily smart enough to tell that his life is better if he just submits and puts up with all your human BS." This is a GSD forum where a lot of people work their dogs. Submissive might be good for a busy young family but I doubt it would be conducive to any real work venues including sheep herding. I hear some rams can be quite large and recalcitrant."

Drop the word "submission" and replace it with "imprint". You will be closer to dog behavior.

"I am a firm leader not a tyrant that makes life and death decisions for my loved dogs based on a stolen roast."

If the dog doesn't learn basics like not to steal the family roast off the table, how long is that dog going to remain in your home? Dominance like that in a dog is playing with the rules of Darwin. Most people aren't going to want that dog around, which is going to seriously impact the dogs ability to produce more of its kind.

I don't feel any need to describe myself as a "firm leader" or even think of it that way. Why does anyone even think like that?

" I value my dogs more that that and I am not motivated by ego or having to prove anything."

Uh-huh. Then what is "firm leader" about, if not ego? What is the whole "dominance" thing about, if not ego?

" We have a cooperative, two sided relationship. :) My dogs lives matter."

Good for you. That doesn't mean they think they can take over the mortgage and prepare dinner.

"Seems to me that many 60-70# dogs are very willing to fight 240# men, just look at all of the Mal K9s and MWDs."

Yeah, not their particular human. Big difference. They will die for you and don't particularly care about other people. Who knew?

"Tell me, just how much experience do you have with German Shepherds and with what breeds are you primarily experienced? I suspect it's not the herders. "

70 years. Lots of different breeds and dozens of dogs. I never felt that any of them would dispute anything I told them. If I had any of those problems, I would re-examine my own behavior because having a good relationship with dogs is about the easiest thing you can do.

The only reason you even have a dog is because they have bred themselves and been bred by humans to be the World's Greatest Cooperator. The idea that they moved into your home and accepted all that love and comfort and food because they want to dominate you is just silly.
 
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