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Old 04-24-2017, 10:24 AM   #1 (permalink)
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black wolves and clear headed dogs

1. re : the black wolf story Nicole posted…
i differ somewhat from Bob and do think it’s possible to make an intelligent comment on the subject

i tend to believe the report since it seems like a well documented case. the pics cannot be ignored. naturally, i wish there had been some biological studies done on the wolf post mortem, more background on what this wolf's diet and how isolated it was from other wolves, etc.
- but the fact remains that behaviors that “work’ for an animal are often conditioned and more likely to be repeated; whether it’s wild, domestic, or somewhere in between

regarding the source of the wolf story : the wildlife photographer. he is well known, but more as a writer than a photographer, and has written many articles and made a few movies….for profit To me, that implies he might be influenced more on the “story” aspect rather than the science behind it, so for me, that affects his credibility in a negative way. there are more people interested in “wild black wolf likes to play with domestic dogs”, rather than "K locus mutant gene seems to be responsible for black colored wolves” //lol//

perhaps this study might shed some light on explaining the behavior :
http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/bi...ry-about-80301
- it seems to put out some dots that may be 'connectable"

fwiw, there was also a well studied case of a black wolf in yellowstone whose behavior was quite different from other yellowstone wolves who lived “outside the box”, and this wolf led a very productive life in his own unique way

either way, when and if behaviors can be geneticially explained, these situations might make more sense, but i’m not holding my breath it will happen in my lifetime

2. what interests me more on the genetics side, is how we often hear the phrase “clear headed” in dog breedings, and how it’s a quality we all hope for.

actually, i have no idea what this really means. what’s the differences between a dog who has a clear head and one who doesn’t ?? what is ‘clarity' and why is it considered a good thing ?? how would you test to see if a dog was clear headed, or is it an intangible that you simply “know it when you see it” ??
- most of the times i read about it, it’s refered to the sire, but i guess it could be a female trait too.
- it’s often stated by breeders to describe temperament … as in "he is very clear in the head”, which makes me laff 'cause it’s similar to the way sports announcers describe golfers “he’s a great driver of the golf ball”, as if it were different from driving a “car” or anything else. where else could a dog be clear except in its head ? //lol//

also, is it a trait of the dog or is it a relationship; or a type of bond with the owner/handler ?? would a dog be clear headed with one person but maybe not with another ??
- i ask this because i feel my own dog is very clear headed, but i think that opinion would not be shared by others who would interact with him //lol//
- for me, he is very focused on any task at hand, not easily distracted and extremely clear on what he likes and dislikes. all of which would seem to indicate his head is clear.

my gut feeling is it's a term of endearment that doesn’t have a measurable definition. i’ve never really given it much thought until recently when it was mentioned again in another thread, and now i'm beginning to wonder if it's genetic or trainable
- from my perspective, and personal experience, it isn’t a trait that that stands out and is noticed so i’ve rarely used it.
- also never heard it used by inexperienced dog owner or newcomers to the dog world, so maybe that is indicative of something too ?

so maybe i’m simply not experienced enuff to recognize this trait when it’s there

….hopefully those who use this term can expand and explain it in depth. it’ll be the last thread i start here so i’ll be in ‘read and learn’ mode //lol//
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Old 04-24-2017, 11:18 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: black wolves and clear headed dogs

My definition of a clear headed dog

For lack of a better word I would say a "thinking" dog or a dog that can read a threat and not react just because of any particular movement or behavior in front of it.

Not over reacting.

A serious dog can be clear headed or it can be an accident waiting to happen because it can't "think" through a problem. It just reacts, often out of fear, sometimes out of an excess of prey/play drive.

The wolf in the video was lacking in caution with people.

That is counter productive to their natural behaviors and would be dead in most other situations doing this.

What we call a spooky dog is more the natural behavior of the wild canids. It's survival!
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Old 04-25-2017, 12:54 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: black wolves and clear headed dogs

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Scott View Post
My definition of a clear headed dog

For lack of a better word I would say a "thinking" dog or a dog that can read a threat and not react just because of any particular movement or behavior in front of it.

Not over reacting.

A serious dog can be clear headed or it can be an accident waiting to happen because it can't "think" through a problem. It just reacts, often out of fear, sometimes out of an excess of prey/play drive.

The wolf in the video was lacking in caution with people.

That is counter productive to their natural behaviors and would be dead in most other situations doing this.

What we call a spooky dog is more the natural behavior of the wild canids. It's survival!
interesting. to me, that sounds like some hocus pocus stuff. for me, the term "clear headed" has nothing to do with a dog's ability to perceive a threat. i don't want my dog assessing threats. i want him responding to my commands. what you're describing speaks more to a dog's reactivity or thresholds. for me, "clear headed" means that the dog doesn't disengage his brain when in drive. while some people may look at a dog and say "he's clear headed", i might say "he just doesn't have much drive". so the drive and "clear headedness" are independent of one another. a "clear headed" dog is much easier to teach the out, not because they lack drive, but because they are still able to think and respond to commands from the handler while in drive. the reverse can also be true. to the uninitiated, a "clear headed" dog may seem to lack the drive of the dog who hangs onto a bite suit until choked to within an inch of their life, to the person who knows what they're looking at, lack of drive may not be what's going on. with a "clear headed" dog, it's their ability to think or the ability to NOT shut out the rest of the world while in drive. my definition anyway...
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Old 04-25-2017, 01:09 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: black wolves and clear headed dogs

10 minute time limit for edits is so stupid....

as far as testing for it and is it genetic or trained....i think it's one of those terms that isn't limited to one trait or one thing that makes it up (similar to the infamous "fight drive"). i think it's a combination of traits that make it up. which may in fact mean that it's not a trait or drive or singular behavior that we witness. i can come up with a dog with theoretical traits that would look like what i call clear headedness. take a dog with over the top prey drive and is very handler sensitive. i haven't seen a ton of dogs like this, but i have seen a few. endless combinations that could be defined as clear headed. high prey, moderate defense, sensitive to e-collar, etc.

once again, perhaps a contradiction. just a late night stream of consciousness.
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Old 04-25-2017, 01:48 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: black wolves and clear headed dogs

Tim, I am glad you took the time to post a reply. I was hoping someone, with what I'd consider legit time/experience with and around working dogs, would respond. Despite my lack of experience in a real world capacity, what you said mirrors my own experiences and impressions on this subject.

Separately, and this is for rick, the most recent reference where "clear headed" was used, was also somewhat contradicted in the description of the breeding bitch. I think Tim's explanation bridges the contrasts between the two rather well.

My Dutch for example, was not clear headed in the work. My intentional lack of OB development in her first two years had something to do with that. She was a bit like tar once she got onto something. Unfortunately, the actions employed to remedy that were faulty. Later tested in a "real world" (police) application it did not pan out well.
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Old 04-25-2017, 10:53 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: black wolves and clear headed dogs

"clear headed" means that the dog doesn't disengage his brain when in drive."

Much better, and simpler explanation then my drawn out "hocus pocus".

Thanks Tim.
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Old 04-26-2017, 12:24 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: black wolves and clear headed dogs

LOL. sorry bob, didn't mean it like that.

and to the OP, i absolutely agree that training does play a part. you can teach a dog to think in drive, but it's much easier to do when the dog is young. that's what's tough when testing "green" dogs that are two years old and have only been taught to bite and hang onto a sleeve and have to be choked out to let go so they look good when departments come to test them. teaching them to think in drive isn't as easy as it sounds. it's easy to pattern train a dog and have it look like it's thinking, but it's not. thinking means that they listen for the handler's next command while continuing to do the job at hand. so you have to vary every element like time, and the command (sit, down, up sits, heel, etc). at first the dog will anticipate and do what they think will get them their reward. still not thinking. by varying the elements, the dog eventually gets it that the handler controls the exercise. again, it's much easier with a younger dog.

i'd guess it's probably more training than genetic, but i do think there is a genetic piece of the pie that pre-disposes the dog to be better at thinking in drive, but if not trained/brought out properly you won't see it if the dog's drive is high.
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Old 04-26-2017, 01:23 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: black wolves and clear headed dogs

so far so good....i'm seein some dots to connect

hope the discussion continues and would like to see how this term relates to more than bitework

it's why i brought it up in the first place, and why i mentioned in the beginning that the term is rarely or never brought up by pet owners
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Old 04-26-2017, 02:09 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: black wolves and clear headed dogs

Alright rick, it appears the picture is getting a little clearer for you on this. I've never seen/heard anyone use the term outside of dog-man engagement. Maybe someone else has and would like to comment on it?

Here's a video for you, maybe it fits for you - maybe not. Course, I really don't know what she was doing. But, it is a good example of that WTF flag she seems to have stuck to her tail.

This video is the essence of the Wasabi Experience and I kinda like that about her. Whatever it is about her that makes her do this stuff works for me. She reminds me to not take everything in life so seriously and that not everything can be predicted or planned out.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oWYT...ature=youtu.be

Honestly, I think clear headed is best fit with bite work. I don't estimate that it could necessarily be a one-to-one overlay with something like the hunting Bob once did. But, I'll toss the idea and see if he or some of the other guys with experience in that area can comment on it.
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Old 04-26-2017, 06:18 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: black wolves and clear headed dogs

Nicole...can't get youtube to work ((((
so i'll check that video later

re : "clear headed" means that the dog doesn't disengage his brain when in drive."
-- if Bob's summary of Tim's explanation is correct, shouldn't 'clear headed' have applications beyond bitework ??

like many others, i've only heard it referred to in bitework and advertising claims by breeders and vendors

- newcomers : feel free to add your experience with the term and whether it means anything to you at face value

- i see another way to look at the term clear headed :
if a dog will commit to a bite and still listen to the handler i call that WELL TRAINED, and that implies the term is more than genetics
- with that said, it goes without saying that genetics and training go hand in hand

here's another bitework related example : a dog who will grip deep and go into a trance like state and block out the world until pried off the grip. i'm sure many of you have seen that in the real world, and my gut feeling is some would also consider that a 'clear in the head' dog. T/F ??

the topic interested me because it is a term used often that has never had a clear meaning to me.
- just like the term "shut down", which i also wanted to start a thread about but never bothered to post my draft
- when you work with people who don't "talk K9" you need to explain things to them, not just use dog terms they won't understand like "drive" or "shut down".

i'm no PHD in K9 behavior, but i think i know enuff about how dogs view the world

actually dogs have a much simpler brain structure than humans, so this should be easier than explaining human behavior. often it isn't, and for me that is often a challenge since i encourage people to ask questions and they pay me to have answers
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