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The organization "The Association of Pet Behavior Consellors " probably has a lot to do with the outcome of the "study".

In my uneducated numbers the 99.9% of pets that are claimed to be dominant are more then likely spoiled brats that are allowed to get away with whatever they want.

No correlation whatsoever to a truelly dominant dog.

Alpha dog? In any litter there is more then likely to be a dog that wants to run the show. Does that make it a Alpha dog? Dominant dog? Hell no!
 

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the pack theory about wolves was debunked a long time ago, but it will never go away. and i have never read ANY "pack" studies involving dogs and other species (humans or any other animal). but it's any easy way to explain animals living together and bonding :)

1. most owners, handlers, and even a lot of trainers have little understanding of canine behavior and how it evolved, and think behaviorists are academics who don't live in the real world. many of these same people feel that just because they have been around dogs all their lives they know what makes them tick.
2. the same labels get used to cover whatever they are trying to prove at the time, or as an excuse for what they are not able to control about their dog or dogs.
3. otoh, it's nearly impossible to describe dog behavior in anything other than human terms :)

bottom line for me .... the theories are not all that important. to me all that matters is how much control the owner/handler has over his dog or pack of dogs. that's where the theory meets the real world
 

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the pack theory about wolves was recognized as incorrect by the people who coined the term a long time ago, but it will never go away. and i have never read ANY "pack" studies involving dogs and other species (humans or any other animal). but it's any easy way to explain animals living together and bonding :)
- just look at how Cesar uses it to explain every issue with every dog/owner problem. with that kind of international audience, FOR SURE it will never go away :)

1. most owners, handlers, and even a lot of trainers have little understanding of canine behavior and how it evolved, and they often think canine behaviorists are academics who don't live in the real world. many of these same people feel that just because they have been around dogs all their lives they know what makes them tick.
2. the same labels get used to cover whatever they are trying to prove at the time, or as an excuse for what they are not able to control about their dog or dogs.
3. otoh, it's nearly impossible to describe any dog behavior in anything other than human terms :)

bottom line for me .... the theories are not all that important. to me all that matters is how much control the owner/handler has over his dog or pack of dogs. that's where the theory meets the "rubber" of the real world

all the people i know who have excellent control over their dogs have always had a consistent way of dealing with them. some had no idea of what pack theory meant and had never heard the term. other people who were very familiar with the wolf studies had NO control over their dog. and others who had watched many episodes of the dog whisperer came to me because their dogs were tearing each other up on a weekly basis
 

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Agreed with pretty much all of Bob and Rick's points.

I find that it's pretty common for people who disagree with a study's findings to question if the conclusions were skewed by the organization/people funding the study. I always question the motives behind everything being published and suspect that their own beliefs or goals influenced the "findings" or "conclusions". While it probably is often the case, it may not be and unfortunately there's often no way to know for sure. Question everything; accept nothing at face value; assume everything is a lie :)

I've never been a big believer in the "pack" theories that are applied to dogs... or the dominance and alpha concepts either. I do find it interesting to read people's arguments on the subjects... both pro and con. I believe it tells me a lot about what others are doing and how they are training, because what you believe directly affects what you do.

The most interesting item I found in that particular article was the mention of Richard Dawkins old (1970's) "memes" theory. I hadn't thought about memes theory in years, so when I saw it mentioned it got me to thinking. Memes theory certainly explains how so many people on the Internet can support, extoll and blindly argue/defend ideas that have no basis in fact or actual proof to support their validity.

To paraphrase: These ideas are simply self replicating beliefs that live in people's minds and pass from one to another for no reason other than their popularity, or catchiness.

Eventually people don't even realize that it was a lie or a joke or an untested theory... so many people have heard it, repeated it, accepted it and supported it, that this popularity itself becomes the "evidence" of it's validity and truth.

The world is flat... everyone says it, everyone teaches it, everyone believes it so therefore it MUST BE TRUE! But it isn't. It must have really sucked to be that guy who tried to convince the people around him that the world was NOT flat.
 

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LMAO :)
just saw that i had pasted my draft and posted it ... and then copied my final copy and posted that too

- it was only meant to be one post....
- oh well, at least it shows i sometimes think about what i'm gonna post before i actually post it; and why the final is usually longer :)
 

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Personally, I believe that there is some sort of diminished form of wolf type pack rank and structure involved when it comes to having a group of dogs living together. Dogs may be domesticated but that doesn't change them 100% to a bunch of teenagers in high school. They are dogs and, although domesticated they still carry certain instinctual behaviors with them. JMO

I will agree that using the terms "Dominance and Alpha" are used way too much and that there just aren't that many out there...Alpha I mean. Dominant behavior can take many forms but I find that mostly it is a behavioral problem with pet dogs and clueless owners.
 

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Article seemed pretty on point to me.
 

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If you look at it from a training and genetics standpoint alone, i believe rank and structure are just learned behavior just like dogs interacting with humans. Who is stronger, who leads to food. Good result, bad result To me all of this comes down to one dog learning it is weaker than another dog by trying something and getting his butt "kicked" early on. I had three dogs in the past that were dominant appearing with one of the other three, but no one dog was dominant over all dogs. Each seemed to have learned who was serious about what when. I think the real dominant dogs we see are strong/resilient/etc genetic hardwired, and learn to be stronger than the other dogs through experience. That is why you will see some really strong biting dogs towards people very submissive to other dogs, as well as indifferent. Also vice versa. strong dog fighter, not strong towards humans. experiences, I think teach the dog how to act, overlayed on the genetics.



Personally, I believe that there is some sort of diminished form of wolf type pack rank and structure involved when it comes to having a group of dogs living together. Dogs may be domesticated but that doesn't change them 100% to a bunch of teenagers in high school. They are dogs and, although domesticated they still carry certain instinctual behaviors with them. JMO

I will agree that using the terms "Dominance and Alpha" are used way too much and that there just aren't that many out there...Alpha I mean. Dominant behavior can take many forms but I find that mostly it is a behavioral problem with pet dogs and clueless owners.
 

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Having had multiple dogs my whole life one thing I can say is the structure, social order, whatever a person wants to call it can change when a new dog is added or an old dog passes on.
The strange thing I've always seen is that the #2 in line is rarely the next in line to inherit the controlling position. Often times the whole order changes.
I've never had an issue with that "controlling" dog myself but I've seen it change among the other dogs and have often been surprised.
Contrary to popular thinking I don't try and interrupt this "change" as long as there is no violence. With that said I've seen very little real violence in these changes.
My dogs have always ran together so my disrupting what is (IMHO) natural to them could create more problems then needed. I've never had anything more then simple squabbles amoung them. That includes when I had 2-3-4 working terriers together. Maybe more of the llittle spats but no serious fights among them.
I have had just two dogs that could disrupt any situation and these weren't clear in the head. Nucking futs to be exact!
I will say that among the terriers I saw much less of "dominance" and "Alpha" structure among them. They all though they were top $#!+. :grin:
 

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If you look at it from a training and genetics standpoint alone, i believe rank and structure are just learned behavior just like dogs interacting with humans. Who is stronger, who leads to food. Good result, bad result To me all of this comes down to one dog learning it is weaker than another dog by trying something and getting his butt "kicked" early on. I had three dogs in the past that were dominant appearing with one of the other three, but no one dog was dominant over all dogs. Each seemed to have learned who was serious about what when. I think the real dominant dogs we see are strong/resilient/etc genetic hardwired, and learn to be stronger than the other dogs through experience. That is why you will see some really strong biting dogs towards people very submissive to other dogs, as well as indifferent. Also vice versa. strong dog fighter, not strong towards humans. experiences, I think teach the dog how to act, overlayed on the genetics.
Dave, can't argue with this logic. Take the human out of the equation though and the domestic dogs have nothing to fall back on except genetics and instinctual behavior. I equate it to a person losing one of the five senses and the others seem to heighten. Living with humans is definately learned as you describe but our suppression of strong instincts in the domestic dog only suppresses those instincts, it doesn't snuff them out. We use those instincts to get what we need from working dogs. It only stands to reason that we can't pick and choose what we want from our dogs makeup but we capitalize on their instinctual behavior. That is why I made my statement about my beliefs. Does it really matter that I know exactly why? No. As long as they all get along without undue vet bills. :)
 

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Howard.

I agree with what you write. I was looking at it more the other way. That alpha dogs/wolves etc were just mistaken initially for learned behavior overlayed on genetics in the first place. That is pretty much what the article said to me. There never were really any alphas as they were first thought to be.

So for me, a any dog is just living in his environment and learning about it and the dogs that are a part of it. His genetics give him a response initially and then learning adds to it. There is no alpha to him, only someone that he follows to the good things when it suits him. Strong dogs rarely look like they are in charge of anything in a traditional sense, in my opinion, unless you look closely. They don't have to look that way because they always get what they want when they want it.

I have heard people called alpha as well. People do mimic what was traditionally thought to be the alpha or the leader. but the true alphas are people I want to be around, when working. not the loud barky strong looking ones. For me, they were quiet, got things done efficiently, without much stress to me. I chose to follow them. typically people I hear called alpha have a puffed up opinion of themselves, don't get much done, and are so headstrong they can't be on a team much less in charge of it. I, like most dogs have a hard time following dumb people or dumb ideas.

The best "alphas" can submit to a more dominant alpha to reach a common goal.

Dogs as a whole are much better than the human race at picking out and following good ideas because their structure and needs/wants are simpler. Humans have developed to where they will follow stupid ideas and pass them on as mentioned in the earlier paper about the theory of memes. I had never heard of that but it makes sense. Our society as viewed on TV and facebook back me up on this. This is why we shouldn't try and keep people alive as much as we do. We provide a safe world where stupid people can grow up and breed and pass on their stupid ideas. safety warnings for humans are as bad for the human race as dog shows for working dog breeds. If we just let stupid people die easier and encouraged them not to breed, we'd become stronger as a race, solving most of our problems within a few generations. Including stray dog/dog health problems that we encounter now.




Dave, can't argue with this logic. Take the human out of the equation though and the domestic dogs have nothing to fall back on except genetics and instinctual behavior. I equate it to a person losing one of the five senses and the others seem to heighten. Living with humans is definately learned as you describe but our suppression of strong instincts in the domestic dog only suppresses those instincts, it doesn't snuff them out. We use those instincts to get what we need from working dogs. It only stands to reason that we can't pick and choose what we want from our dogs makeup but we capitalize on their instinctual behavior. That is why I made my statement about my beliefs. Does it really matter that I know exactly why? No. As long as they all get along without undue vet bills. :)
 

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Howard.

I agree with what you write. I was looking at it more the other way. That alpha dogs/wolves etc were just mistaken initially for learned behavior overlayed on genetics in the first place. That is pretty much what the article said to me. There never were really any alphas as they were first thought to be.

So for me, a any dog is just living in his environment and learning about it and the dogs that are a part of it. His genetics give him a response initially and then learning adds to it. There is no alpha to him, only someone that he follows to the good things when it suits him. Strong dogs rarely look like they are in charge of anything in a traditional sense, in my opinion, unless you look closely. They don't have to look that way because they always get what they want when they want it.

I have heard people called alpha as well. People do mimic what was traditionally thought to be the alpha or the leader. but the true alphas are people I want to be around, when working. not the loud barky strong looking ones. For me, they were quiet, got things done efficiently, without much stress to me. I chose to follow them. typically people I hear called alpha have a puffed up opinion of themselves, don't get much done, and are so headstrong they can't be on a team much less in charge of it. I, like most dogs have a hard time following dumb people or dumb ideas.

The best "alphas" can submit to a more dominant alpha to reach a common goal.

Dogs as a whole are much better than the human race at picking out and following good ideas because their structure and needs/wants are simpler. Humans have developed to where they will follow stupid ideas and pass them on as mentioned in the earlier paper about the theory of memes. I had never heard of that but it makes sense. Our society as viewed on TV and facebook back me up on this. This is why we shouldn't try and keep people alive as much as we do. We provide a safe world where stupid people can grow up and breed and pass on their stupid ideas. safety warnings for humans are as bad for the human race as dog shows for working dog breeds. If we just let stupid people die easier and encouraged them not to breed, we'd become stronger as a race, solving most of our problems within a few generations. Including stray dog/dog health problems that we encounter now.
Again, I have to agree. Genarally, I think, it comes down to the individual dog and the way each one is hard wired. Comparing them to how people interact in groups etc is a pretty fair analogy. You have natural leaders and followers in any group...man, or animal. You also have some anti social, pushy ass sumbitches or control freaks everywhere you go. :) Maybe the aforementioned are what used to be called "Alpha". Overall, I think we have a parrallel agreement.
 

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somewhat related to the alpha issue

one thing i like about dogs MUCH better than people is that dogs are much more adaptable and are willing to learn/unlearn regardless of age. almost hate to quote the CM TV show, but they really do live in the "now" :)

people are quite the opposite
soak up everything when young, but the older they get the less adaptable and capable of learning/unlearning
- the older they get, the more "alpha" they become //lol//
...some don't even wait until they get old ](*,)

i know for a fact it is harder for me to keep an open mind and try something new and i constantly have to force myself not to cut them off before they are finished talking with my "yeah, yeah, i heard that before" comment :)
 

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I don't know why people have such difficulty accepting that amongst animals there is a hierarchy and need to put all sorts of warm and fuzzy spins on it. Mech said study number one was based on captive wolves and study number two was wolves in the wild. One pack structure termed dominance hierarchy and the other familial with leaders and followers, yet you hear that dominance hierarchy is debunked. Its semantics at best. If you have a multi dog pack Which is it more analagous to?
 

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If you know how to train a dog, you can call it whatever you like, but you can't sum it up in just a phrase. If you do, it's for commercial reasons, make it sound easy for those who don't know any better.

Alpha theory has no room for concepts such as "pick the fight you can win", or Bob Scott's "don't pick a fight with a dog that likes to fight", let alone "teach first, demand later".

"Family structure" obviously is not much better description of dog training, but at least it sounds more complicated to a lay person, enough maybe so they don't assume it's easy, and they actually take the time to think about what they're doing.
 

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If you know how to train a dog, you can call it whatever you like, but you can't sum it up in just a phrase. If you do, it's for commercial reasons, make it sound easy for those who don't know any better.

Alpha theory has no room for concepts such as "pick the fight you can win", or Bob Scott's "don't pick a fight with a dog that likes to fight", let alone "teach first, demand later".

"Family structure" obviously is not much better description of dog training, but at least it sounds more complicated to a lay person, enough maybe so they don't assume it's easy, and they actually take the time to think about what they're doing.
Just out of curiosity, how do you define a dogs behavior in a pack enviroment? How do you explain it to a layman?
 

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The strange thing I've always seen is that the #2 in line is rarely the next in line to inherit the controlling position. Often times the whole order changes.
Dog's fill in where they are best suited, we don't always.

Take the military for example. They insist that you get promoted. You may be the best Specialist/E-4 in the work you do, and you could fill that position until you retire and be happy. Due to ignorant bastards in charge, you have to continue to advance in the ranks or get put out within a few years. Same for SGT/E5 and SSG/E6 (depending on the size and posture of the force). This is the Peter principle put into action. Basically you do well and get promoted until you get promoted past where you can be competent, so you fail and then suck. Dogs fill and flow where they are needed because they don't pretend to be driven for something that they are not interested in.

Dogs know that there are ditch diggers and brain surgeons. Do what you have to do to keep your tail wagging and it will work out. Every ass has a seat when the music stops.
 

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Just out of curiosity, how do you define a dogs behavior in a pack enviroment? How do you explain it to a layman?
I don't. If they press me for an answer, i tell them it's too complex to be described in a few words, they have to put in the time and study/gain experience. This is not just a line, it's what i believe, at least at the moment :D

Ime, the ones at a loss, who search for an easy way to explain everything, are the ones who will never understand dog behavior, but who might just misapply a not so detailed advice.
 

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Dave Colburn said:

So for me, a any dog is just living in his environment and learning about it and the dogs that are a part of it. His genetics give him a response initially and then learning adds to it. There is no alpha to him, only someone that he follows to the good things when it suits him. Strong dogs rarely look like they are in charge of anything in a traditional sense, in my opinion, unless you look closely. They don't have to look that way because they always get what they want when they want it.

I have heard people called alpha as well. People do mimic what was traditionally thought to be the alpha or the leader. but the true alphas are people I want to be around, when working. not the loud barky strong looking ones. For me, they were quiet, got things done efficiently, without much stress to me. I chose to follow them. typically people I hear called alpha have a puffed up opinion of themselves, don't get much done, and are so headstrong they can't be on a team much less in charge of it. I, like most dogs have a hard time following dumb people or dumb ideas.

Years ago, we had a geography teacher who walked into the classroom and "commanded" ttention by body language. It was as though we were mesmerised into behaving?

We were very obnoxious lot of pupils who knew probably that being in a private boarding School would ensure we weren't expelled. We weren't bad - we just liked practical jokes, i.e. egg bombs, etc.

My Briard exuded the same "quiet dominant" behaviour towards other canines and I eventually began to see it.
 
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