Dominance in Domestic Dogs

Discussion in 'Dogs - General Dog Chat' started by GoingNowhere, Jun 21, 2011.

  1. GoingNowhere

    GoingNowhere Active Member

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    Does anyone know of any reputable websites (.gov, .edu, etc), journal articles, or books discussing the dominance theory in domestic dogs (I'd prefer scientific studies or otherwise sources with a relatively 'neutral' stance).

    It occurred to me today that I've pretty much been "spoon fed" my position on domestic dog pack behavior or lack-thereof. As I'm sure has happened with all of you at some point or another, conversations such as the following are not an uncommon occurrence.

    Person: *insert comment on dog dominance*
    Me: "I don't believe that most dog behavior originates from an attempt to be dominant."
    Person: "Why do you say that?"
    Me: "Well, it seems to me to be a lack of training. It's also been noted that domestic dogs don't actually form packs and pack hierarchies the way that wolves do..."
    Person: "Says who?"
    Me: "uh, well....." *goes on to mumble something about a dog forum on the internet.*

    I am not the type of person to regurgitate information and it bothers me that I really haven't done my own research on a subject that is so meaningful to me.

    I am not looking for your opinion. I am, however, looking for the primary sources from which you derived that opinion. Thank you in advance!

    ------------------------------------
    As a sidenote, how does one add a poll to a thread?
     
  2. HayleyMarie

    HayleyMarie Like a bat outa' hell

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    Oh good idea!

    Im looking forward to this info as well :)
     
  3. Dekka

    Dekka Just try me..

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    There are articles. Look up Coppinger, they studied pariah dogs. The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behaviour was so concerned with the rampant 'dominance' beliefs they put this statement out http://www.avsabonline.org/avsabonline/images/stories/Position_Statements/dominance statement.pdf

    Not that dogs are wolves, but people get wolves wrong too Wolf Status and Dominance in Packs -Alpha Status

    If you want to read a big thing I did with links Why you should forget the idea of dominance/pack theory as relates to you and your dog. Also why punishing bad behaviour is often worse than doing nothing. (as promised) : dogs
     
  4. JacksonsMom

    JacksonsMom Active Member

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  5. Sekah

    Sekah The Monster.

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  6. Blue_Dog

    Blue_Dog Guest

    I was just thinking the exact same thing! I just hadn't gotten around to making a thread. Great minds thinks a like. :) I probably shouldn't be reading these when I have exams to study for but I might not be able to help myself....
     
  7. SaraB

    SaraB New Member

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  8. Taqroy

    Taqroy Active Member

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    Can a mod sticky this? I think it would be great to have it somewhere we can easily reference it and then I don't have to dig through a ton of stuff to find links to send to people.
     
  9. Danefied

    Danefied New Member

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    Awesome links on this thread, thank you to the contributors. I second a sticky please :)

    Unfortunately even with all this logical, sound information, too many people refuse to give up the dominance paradigm when it comes to interacting with their dogs...
     
  10. Raegan

    Raegan Member

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    Most of the sources I have are very one sided, and that does bother me a little, but I think that's because there's literally no supporting evidence of dominance theory (note how inconsistent the "theory" is from person to person, and even internally). Usually when the topic comes up, I make three points.

    1) Dog are not wolves. Although they are genetically very similar, their behavior is very different. Domestication changes behavior, and even feral dog packs don't behave like wolf packs. Their social system is more fluid. Besides, not even wolves use dominance theory; they form family units. Although one point FOR dominance theory is that the original theory was formed by observing unrelated captive wolves, which does more closely mimic the typical multi-dog household.

    2) I am not a wolf. If there is one thing my dog knows, it is that I am not a dog. Dogs can tell the difference between different prey species (note the dog that only goes after cats, or the rabbit hounds that know/can be taught to leave other species alone) and other dogs. Additionally, dog agression, prey drive, and human aggression are all different things. Take the Pit Bull, historically bred for extreme dog aggression but complete lack of human aggression. Dogs definitely know we are not dogs. There is no way I can move as quickly, decisively, and accurately as a dog can. Compared to a dog correcting another dog I am clumsy, dull, and dangerous to be around.

    3)It's not useful. Most unwanted dog behaviors are totally natural dog behaviors (additionally many strains of dominance theory interpret submissive behaviors as dominant ones, ie jumping up). The reason we find them undesirable is because we are asking the dog to live in a HUMAN world. Dogs don't ask other dogs to fetch dumbbells and deliver them to hand, race through weave poles, or heel with eye contact.

    If someone asks me about it, I tell them to stop worrying about it. You have the opposable thumbs, the great big primeape brain, and the wallet. You ARE the leader.

    "Most dominance problems aren't solved by taking the dog down a peg, but by the humans acting like someone worth following."
    -Suzanne Clothier
    (or something like that, I think)

    The Dominance Controversy | Philosophy | Dr. Sophia Yin, DVM, MS
    Dr. Sophia Yin on Dominance

    The Social Organizatin of the Domestic Dog
    This is very long, very dense, and very VERY good. There are methodology problems (the author is observing her own dogs and I think that imparts a good deal of bias) but it covers very well how dominance theory makes no sense and the need for a new model.
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2011
  11. monkeys23

    monkeys23 New Member

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  12. Shakou

    Shakou New Member

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    LOL I can relate to this! I learn a great deal of my facts from forums, but often when I get into conversations like this, people brush me off like I don't know what I'm talking about because I got my information from a forum.

    Dogs are more like a dumbed down, less advanced version of wolves. I really enjoy watching my dog and trying to decode her ways of thinking in comparison to wolves. She obviously knows the difference between herself and other species, and yet she treats us and our cat as if we're one in the same. For example, when getting up in the morning or returning home after being gone all day, Charlotte will approach our cat and touch noses with him in the same manner wolves do to packmates when greeting each other. The behavior is very distinct and very clear. There's other things she does to that are comparable to very dumbed down pack behavior. She's "dominant" towards other dogs, but often ignores them when in our presence.
     
  13. Dekka

    Dekka Just try me..

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    Actually if you read the research they are not. (and as is often pointed out dominance issues as portrayed by TV personalities aren't applicable even to wolves) Dogs are no more pack animals than domestic cats. Domestic cats are highly social and enjoy living communally, but being social is not the same as being a pack animal.
     
  14. GoingNowhere

    GoingNowhere Active Member

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    thanks for the sources so far. I'm going to start reading :)
     
  15. Shakou

    Shakou New Member

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    They certainly aren't the same as wolves, but I have seen pack mentality and behavior in large groups of dogs that live together.
     
  16. Dekka

    Dekka Just try me..

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    Pack mentality isn't the same as being a pack animal. Humans do horrible things when in mobs (pack mentality) doesn't mean that is who we are, or how we should be dealt with.

     
  17. Raegan

    Raegan Member

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    How large are you talking? In very large groups, say upwards of ten - fifteen dogs, aggression is far, far less likely. Think of packs of hunting hounds or even the pack of dogs that CM keeps. One of the reason problems disappear when Cesar brings a dog back to his complex is that dogs don't pick fights when they're likely to be ganged up on by ten other dogs.

    Dogs are known to "pack up" and act much like a human mob like Dekka points out. This is one of the reasons feral dogs are such a problem, in areas where they are common. They egg each other on and don't regulate their own arousal very well (heck many pet dogs don't regulate their arousal very well) and get into a lot more trouble than one dog alone will. This does not make it a good model for the human-dog relationship, and in fact is a pretty crummy one.
     
  18. Shakou

    Shakou New Member

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    Actually, I am referring to groups of ten - fifteen dogs. It's one of the reasons I no long go to the dog park, because "packs" were starting to form and it was getting...unnerving, to say the least. Fascinating, but still unnerving. Again, I know it's not at all the same thing as what goes on with wolves in the wild, but there's definitely a social structure of some sort going on in their heads. Disorganized and skewed, but still social structure.
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2011
  19. Lizmo

    Lizmo Water Junkie

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    By saying they aren't pack animals, do you mean they can survive outside of a pack of dogs?

    Could you explain this more?

    The whole dominace/pack/alpha dog thing interests me alot. I'm not sure I understand much of it (which is why I would like to learn more), but it does interest me since I do have a female who is 'alpha dog' in our group of dogs.

    Is it not correct to use terms like 'alpha' or 'dominate' when describing a dog who is clearly in control of the other dogs?

    Also, when speaking about 'pack animals', are people refering to a literal pack of dogs or are they refering to animals and humans?
     
  20. Danefied

    Danefied New Member

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    Hmm, I dunno... From where I'm standing dogs look pretty smart. I mean right now they're sleeping comfortably on the leather sofa we bought for them, digesting their afternoon snack of cheese and mango pieces they managed to pawn off the kids by just being cute, and later they'll come with us to play in the stream.

    They have us trained to answer to their beck and call.
    Need out? Look longingly out the window. Need in? Bark Bark. They go with us everywhere, we arrange our lives around them, they eat better than I do, get daily massages (ahem, tick checks), pedicures, ear cleanings... get their butts wiped if they get the runs... Yeah, those wolves digging themselves a hole to sleep in aren't looking like the smart ones right about now...
     

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