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Excellent Blog Post Re: Dominance Theory


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This is a blog post, not a training article per se, but it does a really good job of explaining and debunking dominance theory.

 

https://wildewmn.wordpress.com/2013/06/18/hey-old-school-dominance-theory-schools-out/

Edited by greysmom

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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I'm more likely to believe neither or any theories. In my uneducated opinion the truth would lie somewhere in the middle. What works for one dog may not be the best course of action for the next. I tend to Mish mosh my methods into something that works for that specific critter (whether it be horses or dogs) I'm sure half the stuff I do seems insane to most but it works for me and that specific animal.

 

Not sure this article really debunks any theory. It just highlights the levels of stupid out in the world. God help any vet that choked my dog let alone a puppy! I would need bail money.... Animals are animals and will react as such. They need to be respected and treated fairly.

 

Most importantly you are the best advocate for you pet. Always question anything or anyone that doesn't feel quite right.

------

 

Jessica

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Good one. Thanks for posting!

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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Guest Giselle

Sad that we are still dealing with this totally baseless view of domestic DOGS!! For one, dogs evolved as scavengers and free-ranging dogs in developing countries don't congregate as legitimate packs. Their ecological niche doesn't even require a pack structure. This is why Dominance theory is so wrong and so harmful for a human being's relationship with a dog.

 

The best trainers performing at the highest level dealing with the most difficult dogs use learning theory... because positive reinforcement and negative punishment are how animals learn best, with creativity and without stress. For inspiration, look up Denise Fenzi and her brilliant Schutzhund training. It has nothing at all to do with this egotistical power struggle called "dominance theory".

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Guest Giselle

I also just came upon this. This is a much more thorough and academic argument about what is/is not dominance and how it is usually not appropriate for treating behavioral issues:

http://avsabonline.org/blog/view/dominance-in-domestic-dogs-useful-construct-or-bad-habit-bradshaw-blackwell

 

A PDF of Bradshaw's paper:

http://www.pawsoflife.org/Library/Behavior/Bradshaw_2009.pdf

 

Bookmark! Print! Share!!!!

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Guest DragonflyDM

I think that some people confuse dominance theory with pack and animal mentality/communications.

 

For example, an alpha male dog in a pack will use leadership and enfoce leadership. Nevertheless, once that is established, the pack will obey as long as the pack leader maintains the confidence of the group. But this is not to say that an alpha dog is going to always be abusive and aggressive. Nor does it mean that any animal who is out of line is defying the leader. It CERTAINLY doesn't mean that when a dog is chewing on your shoe he is challenging you for leadership of the pack, NOR punishing you. If the dog eats the roast in the kitchen because you went up for a shower, doesn't mean he doesn't respect you as a leader-- but once you are gone long enough the rules change and appetite trumps discipline without the pack leader there.

 

People anthropromophize our animal's minds and give them human thinking patterns of revenge and wicket deceit. And with that, they see a dog as a person who is unruly.

 

What is sad, is when I am at the Meet N Greet. The entire time in the store the woman is yelling at her dog "Fido come here. FIDO. ... COME HERE. Fido... get over here NOW!!!!!" The dog finally shows up and she scruffs him to show him who is boss. That is because she believes that being dominant will bring compliance. All she did was convince an unmotivated OR scared dog to come to a human who rewarded him with a beating. Exactly the opposite effect because the owner didn't understand the canine mind.

 

The second part of this story is that the same woman, just moments after the Fido incident starts yelling for her son. "Joey. Put that down. Joey come here. Joey come here NOW" Joey shows up and mom smacks Joey on the but for not following the rules fast enough. The theory is that they will associate non-compliance with punishment.

 

Good animal training says that when the dog comes you reward the dog to make you more interesting and motivate good behavior. So I wonder if the mother had done that with her child and dog if they would be more willing to pay attention? I think we all agree that it would be best for the animal. Raising my daughter-- it always seemed best for her too. Best parenting manual I ever read was a dog training manual.

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Guest Giselle

The problem is that free-ranging dogs do not form legitimate packs.

 

No pack = no "alpha" = no static hierarchy.

 

Thus, dominance theory doesn't apply.

 

Anyone who has ever spent any time studying free-ranging dogs in developing countries will tell you that true dog packs are extraordinarily rare. For whatever reason, dogs don't form true packs.

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This is a blog post, not a training article per se, but it does a really good job of explaining and debunking dominance theory.

 

https://wildewmn.wordpress.com/2013/06/18/hey-old-school-dominance-theory-schools-out/

I actually agree with another comment that it doesn't really explain/debunk dominance theory like an article like the one Giselle shared does (I'm assuming, I haven't actually read it yet :ph34r). What it does do, and what probably makes it better in a lot of ways is convey why we should use positive training rather than old school dominance theory based training in terms that people can understand, using analogies and examples that people can relate to directly. Which is brilliant really because most people don't get or don't want to hear the science-y stuff. In the end, who really cares if ones been disproved - the bottom line is you can train without having to be forceful and potential damage your relationship with your dog, yay! I shared the article on my FB page. :)

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Jen, CPDT-KA with Zuri, lab in a greyhound suit, Violet, formerly known as Faith, Skye, the permanent puppy, Cisco, resident cat, and my baby girl Neyla, forever in my heart

"The great thing about science is that you're free to disagree with it, but you'll be wrong."

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This actually hits home because my sister's fiancé uses alpha/dominance to deal with their unruly boxer. It makes me very uncomfortable. Last weekend, she asked me if our dogs barked a lot. I said no, we never did any special training, they just don't bark much in general. Then she went on to say that their dog will get wound up before bed and start barking in their faces, so fiancé 'has to hold her down for a few seconds to get her to stop.' Evidently, that's 'what Cesar says.' Now, I try not to interfere with how people train their dogs, since it's easy to get offended (i.e. nobody wants to be told how to raise their kids). But I just lost it. Cesar Millan started this whole notion that dogs who have been domesticated for thousands of years somehow exhibit the same behavior as wild wolves in a pack. His methods and theories are completely made up, and he has no formal training in any type of animal behavior or veterinary science. Their dog receives so many mixed messages (alpha roll, rolled up magazine, proceeded by a treat). So I told her that 'Cesar's Way' is garbage and suggested that 80% of the dog's problems could be solved it she was actually exercised on a regular basis. The other 20% could be solved if she had some semblance of legitimate, consistent training,

Edited by a_daerr
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Guest k9soul

I enjoyed this and shared it also with some of my dog loving friends. I was watching this video by Milan dealing with a food guarding dog and he said something like how if the bowl was on the floor the dog put their feet on either side as dominance over the food... and if he raised it up the dog could not do that and ate more submissively.

 

I wanted to pull my hair out.

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Guest iconsmum

positive reinforcement is very elegant. It works. All the time. The science behind it is straightforward and fascinating, but the best part is that it gets you around any issue while it's bonding you and the dog more tightly. Hopefully the dominance theory thing will die a natural death sooner than later. I do believe there are fewer people buying in than there were even a couple of years ago...

Edited by iconsmum
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Wow. Not doubting the article, but I just can't imagine a vet doing that to a dog, that's horrible from someone who should no better. My brother and his wife have an out of control dog that they seem to think yelling at all the time will fix--but she behaves for my mom when firmly but patiently verbally corrected. I will say 11 years ago I had called a recommended trainer to see about obedience classes (we're not the best dog trainers) and the guy ended up telling me I was a wimp and would have an out of control dog because I refused to use a choke collar--I thought he was outdated then. The Petsmart trainer we went with did a fine job with Patrick with positive reinforcement and a bit of our learning to ignore him for bad behavior.

 

I do think some groups of dogs develop an alpha--our dog sitter's female dog reigned supreme over the boys (they didn't seem to care, including mine), but I think it was just her personality--I never saw her as much as growl to enforce her status.

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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  • 4 weeks later...
Guest Sourbuzz

That is truly sad that a vet would do that to a dog. That obviously comes from frustration and what are you really saying, about yourself even, if you're pinning down a dog? Do YOU have dominance issues?

I'd like to comment about the critique of Cesar Milan. I certainly can not speak from experience, as I've only had my greyhound for about 2 months. I did have two family dogs growing up however. I studied Psychology as an undergraduate and, along the way, would read about dog and animal psychology. At any rate, I don't know that Cesar's methods are necessarily wrong but how people interpret them. It is hollywood, I know, so there is monetary incentives for most of the things he does, perhaps. I don't know that I've ever seen him hit a dog with magazines/newspapers? I don't think many people in PETA would let that slip by. The important thing, when watching that show, is to know that he is a professional (despite what you may have read about him, he spent years as a dog groomer and eventually took on clients for dog behavior so the experience is there. Also I could read 100 books on dogs and go to meet one and have no clue how to train them if they displayed behavior I hadn't read about. Theory and experience go hand in hand with EVERYTHING, so experience is paramount and should compliment dog training/behavior theory). Also, "formal training" only goes so far. For example, I can claim, right now that I have a Phd in animal/dog behavior and type 18 paragraphs about how to train your dog. Will you believe me? You'll probably want to see me in action right? Or better yet you'll try to the method to see if it works. Either way you need to "experience" it. The fact that Cesar Milan has "no formal training" has no bearing on how people interpret his methods and train their dogs. (not that I would agree that he has had no formal training; I never met the guy to ask him)

I don't know how this "dominance theory" ever caught traction. And let's be honest, if you think it's working despite the fact that your dog still bites you or acts out, do you really think you're getting somewhere? I'm very surprised to hear that this is being utilized, by veteranarians no less!

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Guest debster

If you look at how children play, there's always the one kid that runs the imagination side of the play, and organizes and delegates tasks to other children. So one child is the boss, and one is a peacemaker, one could be annoying and told to calm down, etc. Dogs do the same thing, and it can be seen in dog parks.

 

But this is probably social dynamic. I don't see how a clear set of personalities means that dogs have suddenly formed a wolf pack by any means. But, this is just what I've gathered from my reading. I think a lot of dog owners are waking up to the realization that cruel methods create unstable animals.

 

Here is an excellent paper that particularly addresses Caesar Milan's practices:

http://yodogcast.tumblr.com/post/55504306960/the-damage-of-the-dog-whisperer-a-scientific-critique

 

It is quite strongly worded, but I believe there is truth in it, at least in how choking a dog and putting it in its place is very bad for the animal's well being (this should be a no-brainer, but sometimes people believe very old news). And the research he calls back to is from Nazi propaganda. Not sure if he's aware of that. At any rate, it's a good read and interesting to think about and digest.

Edited by debster
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Guest Sourbuzz

Interesting indeed. Thank you for the information. It's going to be tough undoing a lot of what I learned through Mr. Millan. Even though his methods are, evidently, outdated and somewhat inhumane, I still think he deserves credit for bringing dog behavior and dog education in general to the masses. I didn't know very much about dog behavior growing up but watching his show has taught me a lot. I don't intend to disregard everything I've learned, but will definitely start paying attention to the professionals; the people behind the curtains doing the real work. Having a greyhound is especially important in this context as they are more sensitive to commands, especially anything physical. Actually reading a book now: help for your fearful dog by nicole wilde.There is no mention, thus far, about pack mentality but she does establish alpha leader rules, to the extent that you control your dog and not the other way around. I'm already more calm. Thanks again!

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The problem is that free-ranging dogs do not form legitimate packs.

 

No pack = no "alpha" = no static hierarchy.

 

Thus, dominance theory doesn't apply.

 

Anyone who has ever spent any time studying free-ranging dogs in developing countries will tell you that true dog packs are extraordinarily rare. For whatever reason, dogs don't form true packs.

 

After raptly watching for a couple years now Tina's FB posts from Galgos del Sol where she shows pictures of loose/abandoned dogs they're trying to catch, I agree with this. In all of the pictures she posts, dogs are either alone or in pairs. They do seem to form buddy bonds, not necessarily mated pairs but just buddy's, in twos or threes. But never have I ever seen her show a picture of more than three bonded.

That is truly sad that a vet would do that to a dog. That obviously comes from frustration and what are you really saying, about yourself even, if you're pinning down a dog? Do YOU have dominance issues?

 

Absolutely. I think the image of the doctor pinning down the baby in the OP link really illustrated this. Dominance theory is just fancied up words to describe being an abusive bully.

 

At risk of offending some religious people here (which isn't my intention, just perhaps a side effect, so please take with a grain of salt), my feelings about this is that our proclivity toward bullying and dominance are much more about our primate origins and less about dogs. Our behavior patterns are much closer to primates than any other species, especially the worst ones. The ones that we should be controlling with our "superior" brains!

Sharon, Loki, Freyja, Capri (bridge angel and most beloved heart dog), Ajax (bridge angel) and Sweetie Pie (cat)

Visit Hound-Safe.com by Something Special Pet Supplies for muzzles and other dog safety products

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