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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.
My dogs have offleash walks every day. Maybe they are much shorter than yours (probably) but they typically want more, particularly mental challenge, or maybe I have just conditioned them to want it, who knows.

I do get bored easily and so I change things up. I don't like to walk the same route every day. We have 2 loops through the woods on my property, and a 2 mile road walk which includes a decent offleash stretch. Sometimes I drive to down and leash walk them which they seem to find very interesting. I definitely think it makes a difference to them to see and smell and explore new things.

And I totally agree t hat dogs need to run free and be dogs, they are so happy and it makes me so happy to watch them. And bonus they are very mellow indoors which is how I like them.
 

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As my mother liked to say “once you have 3, you may as well have 8.” She was referring to children, but it seems to be the same in dog terms too. When I’m down to one or two, I feel unsettled and have so much time on my hands that I start going coo coo. Once you have a large pack, it’s just second nature. And you feel naked without them.
As for dominance in like species, it’s as complex as human personalities. Dogs do have their own personalities, and some are more dominate by means of confidence and being a natural leader, or taking a backseat to a more confident dog. And it can often change if the confident dog suddenly meets one that is more confident. I don’t hold with the theory that dogs see owners as pack leaders, that would be like saying a bird sees a turtle as being dominate over them. It’s not dominance over the dog, it’s not you being their pack leader, they see you as the person they love, that feeds them, plays with them, works them, trains them, and pets them. But they don’t have the ability to say “never been to the pound before, but I must fear it and bow down to the human because I don’t want to end up somewhere I’ve never even experienced.”
And there are dogs out there that will in fact dominate a human through many means. There ARE owners out there that are incredibly subservient and more submissive, and can often fear their dog and give in to what the dog wants to prevent any discord in the environment. These have always been the most difficult clients to work with. Their dogs are incredibly easy to work with.
But as far as like species of domesticated dogs go, there is definitely a pyramid structure in place.
I wish I could have a huge pack of dogs but the more I have the less I feel like I am spending the time I really want to with each one individually. I think the most I've had at a time was 4 but 2 of those were really content to just tag along with whatever anyone else was doing and didn't really need one on one time.
 

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I feel like maybe people are more interested in dominance and hierarchies than dogs are...

And sometimes I definitely think it has to do with people's egos...
Where is the applause button?
 

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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.
Excuse me ma'am, I resemble that remark!

Not to get side tracked in the thread, but letting a dog run in the wild experience sights sounds and smells, while still being cognizant of where his leader is, is as you said NOT the same thing as turning them loose to do as they please. It's underrated training for a dog to simply experience things with you and still maintain "his head" so to speak. For reasons you could probably explain far better than me. Add another thing to the list I need to do more of with my dog.
 

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Excuse me ma'am, I resemble that remark!

Not to get side tracked in the thread, but letting a dog run in the wild experience sights sounds and smells, while still being cognizant of where his leader is, is as you said NOT the same thing as turning them loose to do as they please. It's underrated training for a dog to simply experience things with you and still maintain "his head" so to speak. For reasons you could probably explain far better than me. Add another thing to the list I need to do more of with my dog.
Thank you! Actually there is much to be said for turning dogs out unsupervised as well but that's another topic and something I don't recommend in today's society.

When I grew up, there were no leash laws and dogs ran free unsupervised. I can tell you stories about how intelligent those dogs were and how well behaved. I am going to venture to say that OP's dog has reaped some of those benefits and I recall Dave Winners talking about free roaming dogs in third world countries in the same light.
 

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Thank you! Actually there is much to be said for turning dogs out unsupervised as well but that's another topic and something I don't recommend in today's society.

When I grew up, there were no leash laws and dogs ran free unsupervised. I can tell you stories about how intelligent those dogs were and how well behaved. I am going to venture to say that OP's dog has reaped some of those benefits and I recall Dave Winners talking about free roaming dogs in third world countries in the same light.
if I had the space I’d love to let my pups out during the day to let them roam the property. If I could establish the boundaries for them of “their yard”.Thats the big dream.

but the requirement for our next house is enough yard to allow them to reach top speed chasing for a ball. My parents have a 8 acres and it’s incredibly nice to step out the side door and burn off their energy with a game when they’re getting antsy. Or a swim in the pond. They clearly love the relaxed rules and space that they don’t get at home on our .25 acre lot in a subdivision.

ButI think I’ve derailed enough!
 

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I never did answer the original question OP. Sorry.

It’s fluid in our home. Male Mal and female GSD separated by 1 year roughly. Our GSD is older and can be pushy and a bully. So there’s a hold over dynamic from when he was a puppy. But he has lines that he won’t cross and she backs down quickly if he gets angry. He ignores her or snaps back if she’s angry. Outside the home, he “switches on” and she’s obviously following not leading.

He’s also extremely focused on his people and she’s obviously a very distant 3rd in his hierarchy of concerns. So he’ll give her a pass on some behavior, solely (from all appearances) because he just doesn’t care about what she’s doing all that much.

It’s very interesting to see them with other dogs, as you’d think he’d be rougher but it’s just the opposite. It comes across as he’s so confident he’s the big dog around here he doesn’t have to “throw his weight around”. I don’t consider him dominant in the vein of a Pegge Police Dogs type but he’s extremely aggressive and has a killer instinct. So it can be a bit difficult to differentiate at times.

i believe it was mineareworkingline that mentioned her Mal pileon whenher alphadog starts barking. I’ve noticed the same, thought he was gonna kill my sisters dog when my female GSD got in a tussle with it. He knocked the GSD out of the way to get at a threat to “his pack” (My sister got a broken shelter dog that should have been put down, long story but the dog is extremely fear aggressive).

Anyways, thanks for starting this thread. Made me realize I don’t observe and understand either of my dogs as well as I’d like to. I had a lot of difficulty putting this into words. So thanks!
 

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They clearly love the relaxed rules and space that they don’t get at home on our .25 acre lot in a subdivision.
Our lot is about .11 of an acre, i feel your pain!
 

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Anyways, thanks for starting this thread. Made me realize I don’t observe and understand either of my dogs as well as I’d like to. I had a lot of difficulty putting this into words. So thanks!
Wow, you have just given me the gift of a profound compliment. Thank you! I am so glad this is what it sparked. And thank you. I only have my tribe of two cats to observe.
 

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Wow, you have just given me the gift of a profound compliment. Thank you! I am so glad this is what it sparked. And thank you. I only have my tribe of two cats to observe.
@Tennessee also, you told the story well, describing behaviours observed, painting a picture without putting the stamp of judgement on it. This goes well with my morning coffee.
 

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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...
I love that this discussion is touching on the vast unknown of what dogs do perceive and plan, theory of mind, that would make whole new avenue of exploration.
a little aside, but my dog HATES burrs, rips 'em out, but doesn't like me trying to gently comb them out--I now show him the process, or the result (the removed burr) -- he bites it or just shows his teeth at it, and is much more patient with the process. It costs me nothing to act like he understands and it seems to have results.
 

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Maybe, CA is hard to find them inside a 100 mile radius unless you're NOT in Orange County lol the search continues
Sometimes, a little rule breaking is in order for such things... The trails around where I live are technically leashed dogs only, but 98% of people don't appear to mind (some even compliment appreciatively) so long as your dog knows trail manners and displays excellent recall and obedience. If someone passed by walking, running, biking, and/or with a dog, our dogs are taught to ignore them and maintain a tight heel or a polite sit until they pass. Most folks are happier about our off-leash dogs than even on-leash dogs.
 

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This
Sometimes, a little rule breaking is in order for such things... The trails around where I live are technically leashed dogs only, but 98% of people don't appear to mind (some even compliment appreciatively) so long as your dog knows trail manners and displays excellent recall and obedience. If someone passed by walking, running, biking, and/or with a dog, our dogs are taught to ignore them and maintain a tight heel or a polite sit until they pass. Most folks are happier about our off-leash dogs than even on-leash dogs.
This, exactly. Leashed and under control are two separate things. I see a lot more out of control leashed dogs causing problems than any well behaved off leash dogs.
 

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I had, at one point, 21 dogs. Pack consisted of male and female, altered and intact, pups, teens, adults and a senior, a variety of breeds, types and length of time with me. My observation was that although new additions may get some hazing no actual attacks occurred and the hazing was generally by members lower in the pecking order. It seemed that one intact bitch called the shots, but the one intact male occasionally seemed to as well. But I had a senior bitch who seemed to step in once in a while and change plans, lol. Pups were watched, played with and taught by all members. Newcomers were generally under my Danes guidance, probably because she had been around the longest and was the easiest going. Adolescents seemed to get the roughest treatment and it did not seem dependant on time in the pack. I saw almost zero resource guarding. And I wonder if what people see as fluid is actually just different members doing different jobs.
One thing of note, poor behavior of any type, challenging me, fighting, stealing, etc was generally dealt with by being ignored by the pack until the offender "apologized".
 

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Fascinating thread.

I joined this forum to understand my GSD pup.

I have an interesting story about my 95 lb male black lab. He never showed the slightest signs of dominance towards other dogs. He just didn't care.

However, at day-care or a dog park, he turned into the kindergarten cop. Whenever an unruly dog came over and messed with him or another dog; he went really stiff, stared at them, and made a soft growl. After a few seconds, the other dog would slink away. Everybody would go back to playing.

He never barked or got into a fight. Just did his 'go stiff', stare, growl. He used to get free daycare because the staff liked having him around.
 

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Fascinating thread.

I joined this forum to understand my GSD pup.

I have an interesting story about my 95 lb male black lab. He never showed the slightest signs of dominance towards other dogs. He just didn't care.

However, at day-care or a dog park, he turned into the kindergarten cop. Whenever an unruly dog came over and messed with him or another dog; he went really stiff, stared at them, and made a soft growl. After a few seconds, the other dog would slink away. Everybody would go back to playing.

He never barked or got into a fight. Just did his 'go stiff', stare, growl. He used to get free daycare because the staff liked having him around.
Your lab sounds like what a lot of trainers & kennels call 'teacher dogs', because they do exactly as your lab did, keep everyone in line. They are fabulous. I would call them dominant, but I don't see dominance as a negative trait unless it's combined with negative action. I'd say when he was in a group, he called the shots, a benign dominance, like a kind parent letting the 'kids' play and referee-ing when necessary. That's my layman's take, anyway.
You're in a great place to learn about German Shepherds, lots of genuine experienced expertise here. Thanks for chiming in with your story on this thread, and give your 'teacher dog' a congratulations for being awesome.
 

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Not knowing the commonly used word among dog behaviorists... and from this discussion, it appears that even the experts seem to use the word dominance rather loosely. Another way of looking at the issue might be to use three separate scales:

Dominant vs. Non-Dominant.
Aggressive vs. Non-aggressive.
Competitive vs. Cooperative.

While Dominant, Aggressive, and Competitive might commonly be found in the same dog, they don't necessarily mean the same thing.

I got Ole, the teacher dog, from a human society when he was about two. He had been returned twice because he was uncontrollable. All he needed was a 90-120 min off-leash each run through the woods EVERY morning. After an enjoyable romp in the woods, he became an ideal companion dog.

Luckily I was getting out of the military and working through some PTSD. A nice walk through the woods with a companion was ideal for us both.

Is anyone aware of any other good research on canine behavior? It seems a lot of people are passionate about a lot of different (and often conflicting) theories.

With the increase in drug and bomb-sniffing, there must be a pretty lucrative market for highly skilled and well-trained dogs.
 

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This is kind of along the lines of dominant behavior in dogs (with other dogs)...
that dog with tail up, ears up, forward stance...is how my dog greets all other dogs and how he acts whenever other dogs pass by...that is totally him! I didn't realize that this is considered "pushy", although I did know that he has conflict with other large male dominant dogs.
 
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