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Well, few anecdotal notes from my experience...

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.
I think that's a pretty good summary of the situation. As I mentioned in the other post, the latest science attributes dog behavior to imprinting. Imprinting animals don't want to dominate their imprintee.
 

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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.
Whats involved in Adventure Training?
 

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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.
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 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.
"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.
I still can't believe that your calling dogs stupid bro! Like they have the capacity to comprehend something as complex as "Oh, no I shouldn't do that I might go to the pound." as if they know what that is to begin with LOL
 

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Whats involved in Adventure Training?
Not a fan of Stonnie Dennis? Lol

It is almost like perpetual exposure, taking them different places off leash and letting them explore and interact with the environment. IME it keeps frustration created behaviors to a minimum, builds a power relationship with the dog and creates a phenomenal recall.
 

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Not a fan of Stonnie Dennis? Lol

It is almost like perpetual exposure, taking them different places off leash and letting them explore and interact with the environment. IME it keeps frustration created behaviors to a minimum, builds a power relationship with the dog and creates a phenomenal recall.
I wish there were places I could take my boy off leash! 😩 That sounds like an awesome experience
 

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@wm97 please relax and discuss your personal experience and observations only.We all have different perspectives and opinions based on our lives and dogs which should be respected.
This is not a contest.Picking apart other member's posts line by line to criticize their opinions and continuing to incite conflict is against forum rules.Let's all remain polite and civil while discussing this interesting topic.
 

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@wm97 please relax and discuss your personal experience and observations only.We all have different perspectives and opinions based on our lives and dogs which should be respected.
This is not a contest.Picking apart other member's posts line by line to criticize their opinions and continuing to incite conflict is against forum rules.Let's all remain polite and civil while discussing this interesting topic.
Everytime I see your name I think of the movie "Dogma" and your dog straight looks like Ben Afleck lol so rad
 

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I still can't believe that your calling dogs stupid bro! Like they have the capacity to comprehend something as complex as "Oh, no I shouldn't do that I might go to the pound." as if they know what that is to begin with LOL
Well, as I stated before, if you tell the truth -- that the problem is really a stupid human, people get offended.
 

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Well, as I stated before, if you tell the truth -- that the problem is really a stupid human, people get offended. Therefore, to be polite, one has to blame it on the dog.

If you thought I was really talking about the dog --- well, maybe that's a clue all by itself.
As I have stated before blaming anything on the dog is close to a mental deficiency, it is only the Humans responsibility to train the dog. Also the Human isn't stupid for what they don't know
 

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Let's get back on track folks and keep the personal remarks private.Any personal conflicts can be resolved in private messages.
 

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Well, as I stated before, if you tell the truth -- that the problem is really a stupid human, people get offended.
You're framing arguments as if dogs can make higher order mental leaps, connecting their actions with possible consequences and abstract ideas/concepts. You switch back and forth with your other argument using Occam's razor with dog thinking. It's not anywhere near as coherent and clever as you seem to think.

You're also completely ignoring the effects of human decision making on breeding and the attributes of dogs breed for different jobs. A dog bred to fight human adversaries (to the death if need be) and breeder choses to ensure that will take place at the expense of manageability in a standard home, makes some dogs far different mentally than what you're describing. Some people on here have dogs with that in them, I'm thankful my Mal's breeder massively toned that down but it's in there and comes out with my wife sometimes. (She's pregnant and he believes it's his job to protect her and he's not real interested in her opinion of his methods, my opinion on the other hand is taken quite seriously).

That's not touching on the differences in characteristics for a terrier vs a livestock guardian vs a cattle dog vs a sheep dog/gun dog vs pack tracking and how that plays out with aggression, biddability, dominance.

You keep talking like dogs are just dogs and they're not.

Also side note, conflating aggression and propensity for violence to guard resources in your home that represent wants not needs is not how I'd personally approach explaining dominance.
 

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You're framing arguments as if dogs can make higher order mental leaps, connecting their actions with possible consequences and abstract ideas/concepts. You switch back and forth with your other argument using Occam's razor with dog thinking. It's not anywhere near as coherent and clever as you seem to think.

You're also completely ignoring the effects of human decision making on breeding and the attributes of dogs breed for different jobs. A dog bred to fight human adversaries (to the death if need be) and breeder choses to ensure that will take place at the expense of manageability in a standard home, makes some dogs far different mentally than what you're describing. Some people on here have dogs with that in them, I'm thankful my Mal's breeder massively toned that down but it's in there and comes out with my wife sometimes. (She's pregnant and he believes it's his job to protect her and he's not real interested in her opinion of his methods, my opinion on the other hand is taken quite seriously).

That's not touching on the differences in characteristics for a terrier vs a livestock guardian vs a cattle dog vs a sheep dog/gun dog vs pack tracking and how that plays out with aggression, biddability, dominance.

You keep talking like dogs are just dogs and they're not.

Also side note, conflating aggression and propensity for violence to guard resources in your home that represent wants not needs is not how I'd personally approach explaining dominance.
Exactly! They are not JUST dogs, especially if you bring one into your home, treating him or her with the bare minimum is insane. Then just don't have a dog, get a fricken goldfish
 

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Discussion Starter #95
Thanks all who are responding in good faith and sharing your experiences and knowledge. It is very good reading.My tablet just died, so now I will be missing out. Again, thank you very much to those of you who are sharing what you know and think in a friendly discussion. I love your words, truly.
 

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Lol, I always thought that was called "Running Loose"
Sometimes, but I know of lots of people that only use specific walking circuits and never change, a lot of people mix in a LOT of obedience, many don't participate and explore with the dog and a lot of people simply don't let the dog follow his instincts and just be a dog when safety permits.
 

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I still can't believe that your calling dogs stupid bro! Like they have the capacity to comprehend something as complex as "Oh, no I shouldn't do that I might go to the pound." as if they know what that is to begin with LOL
I agree. Dogs don't have the capacity to choose between stealing a pot roast with the possibility of becoming homeless or worse. Their minds simply don't work like that.
 

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Yep, their minds just think, "POT ROAST. YUM." :😛
However if in the past, they were negatively reinforced when sniffing at food on the counter/table, they may hesitate...(negative association with stealing food).
But I don't think they can think as far ahead as: "if I do this, they may abandon me at the pound."

Yet they do know more than we think...
the first time we ever boarded our dog (rescue), we picked him up and he went berserk. Leaping, crying, whining, howling...it was like he thought, "What a relief! I thought you were never coming back for me and I would never see you again!! Like last time!" All the times after that, we pick him up and he is quite happy, but he never had that crazed reaction again. I think he realized that the boarding kennel is a temporary place - not abandonment...
 
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