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The genetic make-up of the dog determines what the dog might be capable of, the learning/teaching phase determines where the dog falls within that spectrum.

Even the best dog can remain in the dark, if he doesn't have the right situations to shine. You can certainly empower a weak dog, but his true nature will show when enough pressure is put on him.

So i would say yes, you can teach him, and he does need experiences in order to express his instincts, but he'll never exceed his genetic capabilities.
I agree with this for the most part. The second paragraph....well, that sword cuts both ways. :) A strong handler likely wont ever have to deal with handler aggression from a strong dog if the relationship is solid but all it takes is one lapse in judgement and a serious mistake on that sort of dog and you'd likely be dodging teeth.
 

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I agree with this for the most part. The second paragraph....well, that sword cuts both ways. :) A strong handler likely wont ever have to deal with handler aggression from a strong dog if the relationship is solid but all it takes is one lapse in judgement and a serious mistake on that sort of dog and you'd likely be dodging teeth.

Ditto on the handler having a lot to do with this.

I would also add to this that a weak dog that is allowed to become in charge over it's owner/handler could be untrustworthy if not dangerous for different reasons.

If it doesn't have the correct genetic makeup it wont be able to handle stressful situations.

Some dogs, just as some people are born with the genes for confidence, etc. They can be developed or broken down.

Dogs and people that aren't born to lead, so to speak, can only develop to their genetic potential.

If this wasn't the case then every pup in a given litter would have equal potential to succeed or fail under the same life situations given they were all raised and trained by a given trainer .
 

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I think the problem is identified in the text 'how to explain dogs to a layperson?' I don't think dogs can be explained to the lay person and a 'dominance' theory won't help.

Imagine if a doctor asked 'what is the best way to explain medicine to a lay person?' There is no clear answer as there is a problem with the question. The answer is, go to University and study medicine, then you will know. The same logic can be applied here.
 

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Alex

i have a different view

i don't agree that you can't teach laypersons about dogs
- most of my customers are laypersons, and some have had many dogs before the one they now have problems with :)

i think it's pretty easy to understand why dogs do what they do. their brains are not nearly as complicated a a human. most people who fall into the definition of laypersons, or "clueless", have just never bothered to keep it simple and use too many human terms to explain dog behavior

and in my experience, the one "NON" human term they often toss out is dominance and the "alpha theory" of dogs as domesticated wolves

i have found that many laypersons can change their mindset quickly ... if they have an open mind :)

- also, some of the best dog trainers i have met never went to any formal dog training schools
.... and by "dog trainers", i also include anyone who has 100% control of their dog(s) in any situation.

just my perspective of course :)
 

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I think the problem is identified in the text 'how to explain dogs to a layperson?' I don't think dogs can be explained to the lay person and a 'dominance' theory won't help.

Imagine if a doctor asked 'what is the best way to explain medicine to a lay person?' There is no clear answer as there is a problem with the question. The answer is, go to University and study medicine, then you will know. The same logic can be applied here.
I do not agree with this. For instance, if I go to a doctor and they diagnose me with a problem, I ask them to explain it to me. They may pick and chose their terms until we both get to a level I can understand. Which at times may involve drawing pictures on a sheet of paper. But what they do not tell me is "go to med school" because you are a layman and I cannot explain what's wrong with you.

What I have found to be true is that if someone does not understand the process themselves they cannot and will not be able to explain it to another because they, themselves, do not really understand what's happening. All they know is that if they do X, then they get Y. They know it works but do not understand why it works. A good dog trainer can explain what they do, why they are doing it for this particular dog, and how to adapt if the dog fails to respond as expected.
 

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We were ALL "laypersons" owning a puppy / dog at some time.

The human being brings far too much baggage to the table in certain circumstances. A poor or abusive upbringing can ensure that the person is overjoyed that their pup or dog shows overwhelming happiness when coming home to it instead of ignoring this as would befit a "dominant" pack leader. There are so many similar instances, too numerous to mention.

The human being plays far too much an influence on the pup / young dog, very often negatively.

I suppose one could call this "traning dominance" but I cannot see this having any stand against a well-balanced human being.
 

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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!
Well said Bob
 

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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
Absolutley
 

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Just speaking as a PSD handler, Why can't it be a combination of both a dog is chosen to be PSD because his genetic make up gives him the tools to do the job we require. But we also enhance and maintain that genetic make up so the dog will be successful as a PSD. I've seen very strong dogs loose it environmentally and dogs that roll on their back to a strong dog have no problem with an environmental deployment, so that Alpha genetic make matters and depending on its job, it's taught and maintained for success.
 

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Some dogs have both and some "either" "or".

My Briard had absolutely no environmental problems. In the Winter we worked in a horse stall. Without the helper, he might have gone for some of the horses that weren't boxed-in! His protection work got him 90-94 pts. His heart was in it but e wasn't as tough as our older GSD who did have environmental issues when he was younger and is not very social but age has mellowed him somehwat.

The younger GSD was oblivious to his environment, apart from wanting to grab anything from insects to horses but absolutely loved humans and their kids.

One doesn't often get to see the sports dogs outside the arena so it is hard to judge. I know a number of handlers who take their dogs to trials and then lead them away from the crowds back to their dog boxes. Equally, I have seen handlers mingling with the crowds after their dogs putting up a really good performance and friends patting them (the dogs!).
 

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Forgot to say, the younger GSD was tough in protection as good as the older.
 
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