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I Have Totally Missed This For Years!


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OK. I've been coming to GT for a while, but never have explored the "Greyt Information" section until now. There are a couple of pinned topics that are pertinent to many behavior and training questions that come up.

 

I hate the term "alpha." Both these topics on "alpha" training are years old, and somewhat out-of-date to my mind, but what do you think? Are they helpful? Useful? Do-able novice greyhound owners? Are they *too* out-of-date?

 

The Importance of Being Alpha

 

Alpha Boot Camp

 

There is also a petty good thread with some great SA suggestions.

 

Would it be worth asking the mods to pin them in this section instead of the other never-visited one? Would it be worthwile to make our own compilation of info for common questions like SA/thunderstorm/anxiety, growling/snapping, kids and greys, other topics???

 

Discuss!

Chris - Mom to: Lilly, Felicity (DeLand), and Andi (Braska Pandora)

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Angels: Libby (Everlast), Dorie (Dog Gone Holly), Dude (TNJ VooDoo), Copper (Kid's Copper), Cash (GSI Payncash), Toni (LPH Cry Baby), Whiskey (KT's Phys Ed), Atom

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They seem reasonable to me. I think the most important thing is to know yourself, and to know your dog. I am not a terribly strong alpha, so I work on that. Other people might naturally be overly dominant and have to adjust in the other direction.

 

Patrick never fought us for alpha, and is rarely alpha among other dogs, in fact he seems to prefer not to be--he was perfectly happy to let my mom's 20lb dog be the boss. The only problem we've ever had in that regard was when it was unclear at the dogsitters the pack order--he and the other boy were fine with the female being in charge, but had to work out the rest of the order. Now they do just fine.

Beth, Petey (8 September 2018- ), and Faith (22 March 2019). Godspeed Patrick (28 April 1999 - 5 August 2012), Murphy (23 June 2004 - 27 July 2013), Leo (1 May 2009 - 27 January 2020), and Henry (10 August 2010 - 7 August 2020), you were loved more than you can know.

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Alpha theory has been pretty thoroughly debunked -- most of what's been written about it doesn't apply to wolves, let alone dogs.

Star aka Starz Ovation (Ronco x Oneco Maggie*, litter #48538), Coco aka Low Key (Kiowa Mon Manny x Party Hardy, litter # 59881), and mom in Illinois
We miss Reko Batman (Trouper Zeke x Marque Louisiana), 11/15/95-6/29/06, Rocco the thistledown whippet, 04/29/93-10/14/08, Reko Zema (Mo Kick x Reko Princess), 8/16/98-4/18/10, the most beautiful girl in the whole USA, my good egg Joseph aka Won by a Nose (Oneco Cufflink x Buy Back), 09/22/2003-03/01/2013, and our gentle sweet Gidget (Digitizer, Dodgem by Design x Sobe Mulberry), 1/29/2006-11/22/2014, gone much too soon. Never forgetting CJC's Buckshot, 1/2/07-10/25/10.

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I agree. That's why I was wondering if these articles were too out-dated to refer to when necessary. They use the term "alpha" but the advice seems OK to me. Am I missing something?

Chris - Mom to: Lilly, Felicity (DeLand), and Andi (Braska Pandora)

35764734494_93de5b5963_b.jpg

Angels: Libby (Everlast), Dorie (Dog Gone Holly), Dude (TNJ VooDoo), Copper (Kid's Copper), Cash (GSI Payncash), Toni (LPH Cry Baby), Whiskey (KT's Phys Ed), Atom

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Guest iconsmum

More agreement here - "alpha" is pretty outdated thinking - most dogs are pushy in certain circumstances and not so pushy in others. I think it's become popular as an over-simplified way to cope with more than 1 dog in the house because owners (most of my clients,...sigh) generally have very little idea what they are looking at, so the alpha thing sort of lets them make it up as they go...

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Alpha theory has been pretty thoroughly debunked -- most of what's been written about it doesn't apply to wolves, let alone dogs.

 

Yup. Absolutely - what Batmom said.

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Kerry with Pippin (Paid Vacation), adopted 4/15/2017
Missing the best wizard in the world, Merlin (PA's Paris), the biggest Love I've ever known, and my sweet 80lb limpet, Sagan (Leon B) :brokenheart :brokenheart, every single day.

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Guest burgerandfrey

I've read things that debunk the alpha stuff as well, and honestly I don't know how any of us can know exactly what's going on in their little heads. I often use the word "alpha" when perhaps "bossy" or "bratty" would be a better word. Our boy Zeke uses subtle postures to make our girl Lola move out of a space where he wants to lie down, or sometimes to give up a toy he wants. But Lola isn't always submissive. Frequently she is, but other times she seems to intentionally defy Zeke and isn't afraid to hold her ground or go for what she wants whether it's a toy or a dog bed. They actually have some give and take to their arrangements. Zeke is the bossy one, but Lola is the one who sleeps on our bed at night. Zeke knows this and he will lie down in his dog bed in our bedroom, even if he gets up there before Lola. But after they have breakfast, if my wife is still in bed, it is then Zeke's turn to sleep on the bed and Lola goes straight for the dog bed!

 

So honestly I don't know whether Zeke acts like a spoiled brat sometimes because he considers it to be his rightful place to do so according to his order in the pack, or if he is just being a spoiled brat :lol

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Guest Giselle

More agreement here - "alpha" is pretty outdated thinking - most dogs are pushy in certain circumstances and not so pushy in others.

Yep!!! This brings up such a vital point:

 

Animals are very situational precisely because they are so deeply influenced by 1) social 2) environmental 3) biological/psychological factors. We do them a reprehensible disservice when we simplify their behaviors down to one UNscientific, DISproven, fanciful idea: that all behaviors stem from a fight for an artificial, man-made title called "alpha". The studies are clear, the science is clear, the academic consensus is clear. So why do we even bother with "alpha" anyways? Dunno!

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Guest Drumhellergrey

I'm going to step out on a limb, and disagree with you all on this one. Alpha, or pack leader,is not a debunked theory. It is also not about turning your dog into a submissive robot.

 

I see it in action everyday with Ted. It is all about respect for the pack in general. It does not matter if your pack is all canine, or a mix of animals and humans.

 

Just as we humans have rules for everyday life, pack rules ensure that the pack goes on in an orderly fashion.

 

I'm not trying to start a debate here, but let's see where this thread goes. :mellow:

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I'm going to step out on a limb, and disagree with you all on this one. Alpha, or pack leader,is not a debunked theory. It is also not about turning your dog into a submissive robot.

 

I see it in action everyday with Ted. It is all about respect for the pack in general. It does not matter if your pack is all canine, or a mix of animals and humans.

 

Just as we humans have rules for everyday life, pack rules ensure that the pack goes on in an orderly fashion.

 

I'm not trying to start a debate here, but let's see where this thread goes. :mellow:

 

Did you read Patricia McConnell's blog?

With Buster Bloof (UCME Razorback 89B-51359) and Gingersnap Ginny (92D-59450). Missing Pepper, Berkeley, Ivy, Princess and Bauer at the bridge.

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Guest Drumhellergrey

:) yes, I still have the tab open to read further.

 

I have also read the two articles mentioned above. It really is not about being pushy dominant or being mean to your dog. Ted is a more balanced dog, because of the time I put into his training. Trust me, I show him plenty of love, but he knows the rules, is happy to respect those rules, and he also knows that he is loved at the same time. I respect him as much as he respects me. That being said. He enjoys the fact that there is a pack order in our house.

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I think part of our concern is using the A word, "Alpha". Over the years it has built up an association with the dominance based end of the training spectrum. Dominance theory, where the dog is supposedly so desperate for leadership that if you let your guard down the dog with feel the need to step in & take over, has been debunked. Plus, the methods suggested to maintain or reclaim your Alpha status were not only sometimes inappropriate or even dangerous but also far less effective than other reward based methods. Dominance theory, which many associate with being alpha has confused, frightened & frustrated many dogs. It can & does tip both timid & assertive dog into aggression at times. These days it only takes once to cost a dog it's life or at the least it's home.

 

The articles listed appear to be older. Patricia Gail Burnham in particular was, I think, one of the pioneers in reward based training. Though some of her methods would not be considered "positive" by today's standards they seemed revolutionary to many at the time she wrote about play training. Much of her approach is as valid today as it was then. The reasons why they worked may be different than the old Alpha theory though. Meaning no offense to Ms. Burnham, I think the article is in need of a rewrite. Same is true of The Alpha Boot Camp article plus it contains some ideas I think have absolutely been debunked & some things I find inaccurate & even counterproductive. This is not to say it doesn't have good ideas but I would not be pointing people to it. There are much better articles out there that do not include the inaccurate & less than effective sections that could really derail success.

 

... I have also read the two articles mentioned above. It really is not about being pushy dominant or being mean to your dog. Ted is a more balanced dog, because of the time I put into his training. Trust me, I show him plenty of love, but he knows the rules, is happy to respect those rules, and he also knows that he is loved at the same time. I respect him as much as he respects me. That being said. He enjoys the fact that there is a pack order in our house.

If you can keep yourself & your hounds happy, safe & healthy by using methods that are not painful, intimidating or fear based then I do not care if you use the terms Alpha, pack order or even cumquat theory. Dogs do not care about semantics. They care about actions. It's just that I am not going to send people off with the idea they they should learn more about "being alpha" & "pack order" because the terms are so often used with methods that set people & dogs up for failure & frustration. And I think there are now better articles than those that are the subject of this thread that do a better job of heading people down a path that leads to success with a lot better fun:frustration ratio. :colgate

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Guest Drumhellergrey

Like you said, call it what ever you want, but in a household that contains even two humans and one dog, there has got to be order and balance.

 

Of course i'm going to keep my hound happy, safe & healthy by using methods that are not painful, intimidating or fear based. Anything else is abuse.

 

"Never let your dog in or out of any door before you.

Never let your dog do something important (i.e., eating, or getting into or out of a car) without you giving that dog permission.

Give treats only for training purposes or exceptionally good behavior such as a dog following your commands - no free treats.

Try not to lose control and yell at your dog in anger. Use body language and low-growly voices to let your dog know that you don't appreciate his behavior - standing real tall is also good to do.

Don't let your dog sleep in your bed - you are confusing it as to pack order and asking for trouble."

 

Get your dog's attention and encourage eye contact several times a day.

Use feeding time to demonstrate dependability and leadership by feeding on a regular schedule.

Control the territory by insisting that your dog moves out of the way instead of stepping over him.

Practice dominance interaction with your dog regularly including gentle handling, belly rubs, and muzzle control.

 

 

What about the above words is ...using your words Quote "sometimes inappropriate or even dangerous but also far less effective than other reward based methods." Unquote ?

 

These are all subtle signs that show your dog you are in charge IMO. How can doing any of the above confuse, frighten or frustrate a dog?

 

IMO, people are going to gleen what they can from an article, and use what they feel is appropriate. These articles are not sending people off to go and abuse their much loved pets. :angry:

 

Also Patricia Gail Burnham was not even mentioned in this thread.

 

edited for ...yes you guessed right, Spelling errors.

Edited by Drumhellergrey
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I'm still new to greyhounds; Simba's been home just a year now. He's quite well trained now using positive methods; Stella is just a few steps behind him. But I don't think he's special or different; while he's very very smart and willing, so are other greyhounds. Greys may not be the most biddable, but they are "soft" dogs and have the most sensitive, finely tuned sense of pack you could ever hope to see. It doesn't make sense to me to be heavy handed with them. What methods I'd use with a hardheaded stubborn rottie or an ADHD lab (still wouldn't follow the alpha/dominant model), it just isn't what works for me and these hounds.

 

In my most humble opinion, the examples listed from the linked articles are either unnecessary or intimidating to the dog (forced direct eye contact is an example). I do agree with not losing control and being dependable.

 

If (when) I have a grey more difficult to train, NILIF is probably the direction I'd go, depending on the hound's temperment.

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Guest Drumhellergrey

What ever works I guess. I just believe that you should be in tune with your dog, rather than becoming a treat dispenser for automated responses by your dog. :colgate

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Of course i'm going to keep my hound happy, safe & healthy by using methods that are not painful, intimidating or fear based. Anything else is abuse.

I most definitely was not implying you would. Was just saying that you or any owner/trainer can use whatever terms you want as long as the dogs are treated appropriately. Your posts give every indication that you are & then some.

 

Never let your dog in or out of any door before you.

Never let your dog do something important (i.e., eating, or getting into or out of a car) without you giving that dog permission.

Give treats only for training purposes or exceptionally good behavior such as a dog following your commands - no free treats.

Try not to lose control and yell at your dog in anger. Use body language and low-growly voices to let your dog know that you don't appreciate his behavior - standing real tall is also good to do.

Don't let your dog sleep in your bed - you are confusing it as to pack order and asking for trouble."

 

Get your dog's attention and encourage eye contact several times a day.

Use feeding time to demonstrate dependability and leadership by feeding on a regular schedule.

Control the territory by insisting that your dog moves out of the way instead of stepping over him.

Practice dominance interaction with your dog regularly including gentle handling, belly rubs, and muzzle control.

 

 

What about the above words is ...using your words Quote "sometimes inappropriate or even dangerous but also far less effective than other reward based methods." Unquote ?

 

-- I really hate to write something so long but I am not good at being succinct. And besides... You asked for it. :) Just know in advance that I am not trying to argue with you about this. The basic premise of the articles are that dogs need structure & training to live a happy, safe life in our homes. I don't think anyone would argue with that. I just believe we have better articles to point people to. The original poster asked "What do you think of these articles?" and "Are they *too* out-of-date?" So I gave my point of view.

 

Just to be clear. The "above words" you quote are from "The Importance of Being Alpha" article. My quote that you use was directed at the "Alpha Boot Camp" article. Since you are asking about specific items from the Being Alpha article I will say again, the article needs a rewrite. It is outdated & the terms & descriptions could head people off on a search for more "Alpha" & "Dominance" related articles that can lead to serious problems. As written it still has the old, your dog is going to take over the house if you let them. IME, most dogs won't but they do need structure & training. This article recommends methods that should be gentle but does have info that can be easily misinterpreted leading to an approach that produces fear & intimidation without someone intentionally doing so. If you are having no problems with the dog but it is just a new hound learning about life outside the racing kennels then basic training is what is needed. This would include training to keep the hound safe, like responding to his name, not bolting out of doors but instead waiting at doorways until released, recall training, stay, plus manners like waiting to be released to eat or waiting for an invitation before getting on the sofa & learning to leave the sofa when asked. Some of what I consider basic training is part of the article. These are just the basics of life & in the process the human is controlling the resources so you've got leadership built in. For most of the dogs those Never this & Always that are not needed.

 

As for the need to implement a regimented NILF program, it depends on the dog, the humans & the situation. Are we going on the assumption someone is already having problems with a dog like resource guarding or some such? Then implementing NILF is a great approach. In that case though, I would bypass the two articles that are the subject of this thread & instead point someone to something like "Leading the Dance" from Sue Ailsby's "Training Levels" site. It's NILF but I far prefer the way this is written. Sue's site with the Training Levels system is a fantastic train at home program that I would recommend to anyone. "Leading the Dance" is available on Shirley Chong's wonderful site which I also recommend.

 

But you seemed to ask for specifics so here they are. The first paragraph of your quote is attributed to Job Michael Evans & there are a couple things I have a problem with. 1) You do not always need to be the first through a doorway. I do want dogs to wait at doorways that lead outside but often it matters not who goes through first. I am the one controlling the door. I train the dogs to wait until I release them. I do it without corrections, speaking or any intentional body language. They learn if they don't wait the door closes. My door, my choice on when, who & in what order folks go in & out. 2) Why use the growly voice? It looks like it is intended as a human trying to talk dog. We don't speak dog well & often do not understand the dogs motives or emotional state at the time. (If the target audience of this article could read canine body language & communicate well in canine speak then they wouldn't need this article.) So the growly voice is a correction & I do not like correcting dogs for communicating. It takes away one of their avenues of communicating with us. The growly voice is our imitation of a canine threat. Why would you want to threaten violence on a dog you are worried may become violent. 3) Some of the Alpha body language can be very intimidating to some dogs & antagonizing to others. Body language speaks volumes to dogs. That is unfortunately how some dogs are scared into biting when someone leans over them.

 

The second paragraph is attributed to Terry Ryan. I wonder if it is a direct quote or paraphrasing. It needs rephrasing & elaboration. My problem here is 1) The "dog moves out of the way instead of stepping over him" statement needs to be rephrased to walking around the dog. If we are talking dominance, which I am regretfully doing, stepping over the dog would be a dominant action. So you are being more assertive by stepping over the dog. Giving up leadership would be walking around the dog. Now I am not advising stepping over the dog. That's an accident waiting to happen. It could be very intimidating to the dog provoking a bad response. Also for someone as short as me living with tall dogs you could end up riding your own dog. So, yeah, get the dog to move but understand how & why because otherwise you could frighten, intimidate or provoke an unfortunate response from the dog. 2) Without more elaboration this part could indeed be dangerous, "Practice dominance interaction with your dog regularly including gentle handling, belly rubs, and muzzle control." Those needing this article likely are not able to read dog body language well. Some dogs in need of NILF are not going to take kindly to someone rolling them over for a belly rub, even if done gently. And you know some poor soul is going to try to do just that. Say the dog has already threatened to bite when someone has reached for the face, do you want to give people the impression that they must handle that muzzle daily? These are some reasons I think the article needs a rewrite.

 

If you really want me to address the reason for my statement you quoted in reference to the second article I will but my bet is you are by now sick of hearing from me on this subject.

 

Also Patricia Gail Burnham was not even mentioned in this thread.

She was specifically quoted in one of the articles which is the subject of this thread.

 

"edited for ...yes you guessed right, Spelling errors."

At least you can catch yours. Even after editing, mine will still be full of errors.

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Guest Drumhellergrey

OK, fair enough, I too believe a lot is left out of those articles. They are a good starting point, at best.

 

I still believe it is a better service to your dog to be in tune with how he sees things, not just program a response by dispensing treats.

 

For instance. going through a door before your dog. It is only something you have to actually be aware of in the beginning of training. Now my dog just naturally lets me leave before him, out of respect.

 

A growly voice is something he would hear if he was being disrespectful in a natural pack, that then a nip, if he continued to be disrespectful to a higher member of the pack. It is not about discouraging your dog from vocalizing, you are only discouraging the unwanted behavior and nothing else.

 

In my opinion, a violent dog, is one who doesn't know his role within the pack. When the pack is in balance, there is no real violent behavior. Hence, no need for corrections at all, as he is in understanding about his role. With my dog, I don't ever, ever fear that he will be violent. And in general he doesn't prove me wrong.

 

As for showing dominance by giving belly rubs, etc.. If I tried to put him on his side for a belly rub, yes, I would get a reaction, it wouldn't be violent, but protest. What they mean is in a quiet moment, and yes I guess they should explain this better, a belly rub and gentle handling go along way to showing affection to a,(and I don't like using this or the D word either ...but) submissive dog. Even the act of brushing your dog is a form of dominant behavior.

 

As for the actual words, dominance and submissive are much misunderstood by the general public. They are however. very good at describing natural pack behavior.

 

So, for now at least, I'm afraid we are going to have to agree to disagree.

 

 

BTW, I think you express yourself very well using the written word. :)

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  • 2 months later...
Guest iconsmum

well!...this is going where it always goes...:)) I'm a trainer who never gets involved in the argumment anymore. Those who want to believe in alpha dog/wolf pack stuff -yes totally debunked see Kathy Sdao, Jean Donaldson and Ian Dunbar, Myrna Milani, B.F. Skinner, Brenda Aloff,....- are absolutely unshakeable but also deserving of much respect because in the end, I think we all have the best interests of our dogs at heart and education is a fluid and ongoing thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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