Pack order/Social hierarchy

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by scox1313, Nov 3, 2010.

  1. scox1313

    scox1313 New Member

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    in a different thread it was brought to my attention that dogs don't see humans as members of a pack. in that thread it was established that there's some sort of hierarchy among dogs, but what i am interested in is the human/dog relationship.

    Is this widely accepted information? i only post this to clarify, since everything i've read on training talks about this owner as alpha pack member approach. i'm reluctant to change the routines i've based on this without discussing it more. (examples are: always eating first, humans through doors first, dogs on floor/people on furniture)
     
  2. corgipower

    corgipower Tweleve Enthusiest

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  3. Laurelin

    Laurelin I'm All Ears

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    Yeah the guy that came up with alpha/pack theory in wolves has explained that this is false. There's a video on youtube of him explaining how the alpha theory is wrong.
     
  4. milos_mommy

    milos_mommy Active Member

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    The alpha theory being incorrect is widely accepted as false among certified, qualified dog trainers, however a lot of media unrelated to dog training still references it, and unfortunately a lot of people will read outdated or unsupported information on training that uses the alpha/pack theory and assume it is good information and that's a good approach to training.
     
  5. scox1313

    scox1313 New Member

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    excellent reading. so it doesnt matter who goes through the door first and i can let her up on the couch. sweet.

    but what about "confrontational play" like tug of war and wrestling? does that fall under the dominance umbrella? what other examples of dominant human behaviour is irrelevant now? like spitting in the dog's food (never heard of that one till i read those articles)
     
  6. ihartgonzo

    ihartgonzo and Fozzie B!

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    Waiting at the door and waiting to be invited onto the couch are polite behaviors based on training/manners, NOT pack order! They are very good behaviors to teach your pup using rewards and praise (not intimidation or punishment), though. :)

    Dogs do not have strict pack order. If they did, dog parks, dog daycare, and playdates would be deadly! Dogs have a language amongst themselves... they do have loose pack mentality, but most of their behaviors are based on what is rewarding to them. When dogs meet, they decide whether or not they like each other and understand each other, not who is alpha.
     
  7. Maxy24

    Maxy24 Active Member

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    Instead of focusing on behaviors that are "dominant" or "submissive" think about behaviors that you want and don't want and then make rules regarding that. If you want your dog on the couch go for it, if you don't, don't. If you only want him up when invited only let him on with an invitation. If you want to make sure you can get him off, teach an off command and reward heavily.

    If you want to play tug, again, think about what you want and don't want to happen during the game. You don't want your hands to be treated like the tug toy, so don't allow him to miss and get your hand (hand hitting ends the game immediately). If there are any other rules you want to be involved, like he has to drop it when you ask, teach it.

    It's not about deciding which behaviors will cause dominance, it's about which behaviors you simply don't want and which ones you do.


    You should be sure to work to prevent common issues like guarding food, being uncomfortable with handling (especially nail trimming), and being fearful of people/dogs/kids/new places/sounds/etc. bysocializing the dog to potentially scary things and through pairing these "unpleasant" experiences with lots of treats. While yourdog eatswalk up to his food bowl, pet him with a few strokes, and drop a hunk of something better, like meat from your dinner, into his bowl.
     
  8. release the hounds

    release the hounds Active Member

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    There is absolutely dominance and heirarchy between dogs. The only thing that is debated is basing an entire training regime on "dominance".
     
  9. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    I agree with most of the replies. I do not believe that there is a dominance hierarchy between domestic dogs. I do not attribute antagonistic behavior to a social rank system or pecking order. In addition, scavanging aniamls or animals that have their food given to them, and don't need to hunt large game to survive... and aniamls that breed "promicuously," as dogs do, (breeding several dogs if given the chance), don't have a hierarchy. Dogs that live as feral dogs are seen scavanging near each other and random dogs will join the group and leave frequently and for short periods of time. There is no social heirarchy established. This is not the case with a natural wolf pack, which btw, is anyway, very fluid. It's merely a breeding pair and it's offspring, primarily.

    Here's an excellent teaching kind of article with some videos.

    The Dominance Controversy - Philosophy - Dr. Sophia Yin, DVM, MS



    This is quite a lot to read, but I highly recommend it. It's very imformative:

    http://www.pawsoflife.org/pdf/Library articles/Bradshaw 2009.pdf
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2010
  10. milos_mommy

    milos_mommy Active Member

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    We're discussing dominance heirarchy between dogs and humans. Whether or not domestic dogs have a pack/social heirachy among themselves is an entirely different argument irrelevant to training.
     
  11. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    According to the latest research and studies, domestic dogs don't create a hierarchy at all between themselves....nothing consistent or organized about it. And they certainly don't view us as a pack member when they aren't even pack animals. They know we're not dogs. Only conspecifics form packs anyhow. Our role should be as a benevolent leader or partner. (so don't look at Cesar Milan for an example. He is not benevolent. And he doesn't understand dogs) People look at individual behaviors and plug them into a human-construct without looking for simpler answers first. This has been going on for a long time. It's time to put that to bed once and for all....that chalking up behavior to non-proven, ambiguous pack theory. It is not relevant to domestic dogs.

    Maxi hit the nail on the head when she wrote to look at it as behaviors you want and behaviors you don't want.....and then train accordingly....benevolently. (that sounds so familiar to me...like I've said the same thing before many times. lol) It's not about pack theory and dominance.
     
  12. Maura

    Maura New Member

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    I posted another answer, but it was way too long. Is dominance theory widely accepted? Yes. Hence the popularity of C. Milan and others like him. Even if you don't use Milan's techniques, even positive/clicker trainers believe in social hierarchy and use it to advantage. There are extremes in belief, some believe that everything is status related, others believe that nothing is status related. I am nonviolently in between.
     
  13. Dekka

    Dekka Just try me..

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    Only by people who aren't educated in animal behaviour. There are lots of things people believe that are wrong, just because something is believed by a lot of people make it correct.

    I really find the lack of critical thought very depressing. Right now there is a push to remove wifi from public schools because its a 'health hazard' Problem is there is NO evidence, and its not even logical. But loads of people believe it......
     
  14. Dekka

    Dekka Just try me..

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    Actually tug is co operative play. If you dont' tug back the dog can't play. And it mimics co operative rending of large prey. Also if tug made dogs difficult almost all of the worlds agility dogs would be big trouble makers and flyball dogs would all be demons... a good portion of competitive obedience dogs too..
     
  15. release the hounds

    release the hounds Active Member

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    I too find the lack of critical thought to be depressing. So many hear something from someone they like and reguirgitate and recite their writings over and over and over again without really taking time to think or seeing what else is out there, thus becoming nothing more than a parrot.

    but since I am but a lowly internet nobody, I'll post these words, you tell me who said them
    oh, and it was written this year so no, it's not too outdated.

    so is there "really" NO dominance and NO heirarchy???? or is just different than you previously thought? It's definitely more complicated, I don't think it's too useful for basing your dog training BUT if I'm in control of who gets what food and how much every single day of my dogs life, what does that do to a dog's psyche overall? I think it has some impact. and even by behaviorists and the general publics definition of "dominant", that act alone makes me dominant in that situation. :) and it is useful for training :D
     
  16. milos_mommy

    milos_mommy Active Member

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    A parent has full control over what their young child eats and pretty much every aspect of their child's life...does that make them "dominant" over their child? Technically, I guess so, but certainly not in the sense people view dominance in relation to alpha-theory and pack mentality.

    And you say in the first part of your statement 'I don't think it's too useful for basing your dog training" and then at the end you say "it is useful for training", so which is it?
     
  17. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

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    Sounds like you're reading the wrong books. ;)
     
  18. Dekka

    Dekka Just try me..

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    Of course there is some. You put two animals together and there will be some. But to plan your life around some idea of it isn't useful.

    The point is the common thoughts are that its linear.. one top dog, then a beta dog etc etc over all aspects. Ie alpha dog will be alpha over all dogs over all things. This is not true. Its not true in horses or wolves who do live in quite structured relatively permanent social groups.

    @scox training your dog to wait for you to go through the door is useful. It teaches the dog to wait for permission before they can do something they want. So you give a cue, the dog obeys and gets a reward. It sets the dog up to want to earn things from you. That does not mean it has anything to do with you going through first. You could train your dog to sit when you reach for a door handle and wait for a release word and go out ahead of you.. it all has the same affect.
     
  19. release the hounds

    release the hounds Active Member

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    Why does it have to be one or the other? read it again and tell me what YOU think I mean. I have a feeling I already know your answer
     
  20. milos_mommy

    milos_mommy Active Member

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    It can't be both "useful" and "not very useful". If I knew what you meant, I wouldn't have asked.
     

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