Important information on dominance

Discussion in 'Labrador behaviour' started by editor, Jun 14, 2013.

  1. editor

    editor Administrator

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    A number of posts have been mentioning strategies like 'eating before the dog' and 'going through doors first' as techniques to reduce dominance.

    This range of techniques are collectively known as rank reduction strategies. They were once widely used by dog trainers and still seem to be popular in the USA

    I will put up a proper article with references, on this at some point, but in the meantime, this is a summary of the latest research and thinking on dominance

    [size=12pt]Pack theory[/size]

    For a long time, it was believed that dogs are naturally pack animals that organise themselves into a strongly defined hierarchy maintained by aggression or force. Largely we came to this conclusion because we believed that they descended from wolves and because some wolf studies had demonstrated this behaviour.

    DNA tests have now proved once and for all that dogs are indeed directly descended from wolves. Unfortunately the original wolf studies on which 'pack and dominance theories' were based, were very flawed. They were carried out on groups of captive wolves that had been gathered together into a collection. These wolves were unrelated.

    More recent studies of wild wolves have revealed a very different story. Wolves do not form hierarchies but rather live in family groups. Aggression towards other members of the family, including displays of 'dominance' is very unusual.

    [size=12pt]The myth of the Alpha Dog[/size]

    Modern studies have failed to show social hierarchies in dog populations too, and suggest that dogs place very little value on dominance or leadership. There are no 'alpha' dogs. This is a myth, and one that has done a great deal of harm in the dog training world. Dogs will fight to protect resources if they are scarce or highly valued, but most have no interest in leadership or dominance.

    Dominance theories are now considered redundant by the majority of animal professionals that are educated at degree level or beyond. What I am claiming is still considered controversial amongst some traditional dog trainers, that have no behavioural training, but is widely accepted now within the veterinary profession and amongst behavioural scientists both in the UK and the USA. Here is the American Veterinary Society's position statement on dominance theory.

    Most behaviourists now believe rank reduction techniques are irrelevant at best and harmful at worst. Particularly physical techniques like the Alpha Roll which I strongly recommend you avoid.

    If you would like to read more about this interesting subject, John Bradshaw of Bristol University has done a great deal of research into this area and has written an excellent book that covers his conclusions. It is called 'In defence of dogs'

    Pippa
     
  2. Karen

    Karen Moderator Forum Supporter

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    Re: Important information on dominance

    I absolutely concur; In Defense of Dogs is brilliant reading. Highly recommended.
     
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  3. Dexter

    Dexter Moderator Forum Supporter

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    Re: Important information on dominance

    Thank you Pippa,

    I do get Dexter to sit down before I go through the door,especially the garden gates....it's basically just for manners ,feel bad now though as he doesn't need to be dominated ,and don't want him to feel he is,he is a good boy.I've got so much to learn
    On the point about delaying feeding my Husband and I fell out last week on Saturday because he was starving and wanted to order a takeaway but I said it would come an hour before Dex's meal time and I wouldn't enjoy eating it in front of Dexter when he was cranking up to being hungry.......so who's dictating the order of events in our house!he he!
     
  4. Dexter

    Dexter Moderator Forum Supporter

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    Re: Important information on dominance

    Great ill have a look for that Karen Ų°thanks x
     
  5. kateincornwall

    kateincornwall Registered Users

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    Re: Important information on dominance

    Couldnt agree more , unfortunately there are now many dogs with aggression issues due to the employment of these outdated donimance methods :'(
     
  6. Karen

    Karen Moderator Forum Supporter

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    Re: Important information on dominance

    Incidentally, for those living outside the UK, John Bradford's book is called 'Dog Sense' in the USA.
     
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  7. lynnelogan

    lynnelogan Registered Users

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    Re: Important information on dominance

    i read this post pippa as soon as i got my boy,...... as i believed i had to show him who was boss, from reading the link it educated me to realise this was a myth :)........ jasper as always had is evening meal before we have ours.....when he was very tiny and came over to the table, we just repeated the words no and ignored him, this as paid off as he now lies down when we are having our meal :) without this site i don't think i would have coped with him,....i have learned so much from this site :) i have so much more to learn....,the advice i always get from this site is very much appreciated :) i would never of dreamt of reading a book on recal/whistle /click traing :)
    i am enjoying the book with tiny steps, i can see daily the improvement... thank you so much :)
     
  8. Oberon

    Oberon Moderator Forum Supporter

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    Re: Important information on dominance

    Very keen to read that book - it sounds good.

    From what I've read, dogs show respect and trust towards people based on the same kinds of things that make us show respect and trust towards other people - kindness, consistency, fairness, a sense of calm confidence and fun. Not domination. The best way to establish a good relationship is to train your dog in a positive way and make sure you are enjoyable to be around :)

    Angela, that is hilarious about delaying the take-away ;D Totally understand though. I once made my parents-in-law (ex-parents-in-law, that is) eat dinner at a restaurant outside in the middle of winter just so the dog could come. No regrets either! ;D
     
  9. Dexter

    Dexter Moderator Forum Supporter

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    Re: Important information on dominance

    Ah Rachael it can be those things you look back on in life and give a mental punch in the air and a yeeeeessss!!!good for you!
     
  10. drjs@5

    drjs@5 Moderator Forum Supporter

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    Re: Important information on dominance

    Well done indeed Rachael! ;D ;D
    Wish we got out a bit more to eat (blame the OH on that though, not Lilly ;) )

    Jac
     
  11. MadMudMob

    MadMudMob Registered Users

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    Re: Important information on dominance

    Have been out of any sort of dog socialising (showing, training clubs etc) for almost a decade now so this is the first I've heard of these ideas.

    It all makes so much sense in a why didn't I ever twig sort of way!

    Fascinating .... have ordered a copy this very minute. Thankyou so much for posting about it.
     
  12. JulieT

    JulieT Registered Users

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    Re: Important information on dominance

    I read in defence of dogs over the summer - thought it was fab (although a little long winded in places).
     
  13. TeamGSP

    TeamGSP Registered Users

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    Re: Important information on dominance

    The culture clash is the book that changed my mind on my relationship with my dogs. I trained traditionally and along the lines of being the dominant owner. Stuff like dogs on the sofa or dogs trying to be higher than you are trying to take over the home never made any sense.

    I hope more and more people get a grip on training methods.

    The problem with TV superstar trainers is that we only see minutes of a process that takes weeks or months and very rarely do we ever return to the household 6 months later to a year to see has the relationship been maintained.

    Secondly the methods used are very hard to apply, require unbelievable timing and skill to avoid cruelty and really shouldn't be how a novice even attempts to manage their dog.
     
  14. editor

    editor Administrator

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    Re: Important information on dominance

    For anyone interested in the evidence behind the dominance debate, there are quite a few links in this article
     
  15. David

    David Moderator Forum Supporter

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    Re: Important information on dominance

    Thanks Pippa. Agree.

    Lady and I are definitely a social group. I can open gates better than she can so I lead on that one. She retrieves birds better than me so she leads on that but knows I can carry more than her so she brings them back to me to lug back to the trailer.


    Sorry! Just struck me as an observation. ;D
     
  16. Oberon

    Oberon Moderator Forum Supporter

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    Re: Important information on dominance

    Well, I thinks that's exactly why we have ended up with dogs, David. Together, dogs and humans can make a great team :)
     
  17. VAl

    VAl Registered Users

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    Re: Important information on dominance

    Just read this thread, now I do feel much happier, because Chloe our 12 month old lab pup was spayed last week, they did a good job, and the second day she was wanting to run around etc, it was a hard week keeping her relatively quiet. She went in yesterday morning to have her stitches out, one of her problems is she jumps up, they must have looked after her well as she danced in and jumped up at the vet and washed her face!!! ??? I asked the vet for someone to hold Chloe as I am not young and did not want to lie on the floor. She brought in a lady and Chloe was quite good, stitches out, then dancing around, this lady is a Behaviourist says the vet, would you like to have a chat, OK, I said, so we went into the room where they get weighed etc, and also where I picked Chloe up after her op.
    I told her Chloe was doing well except she lunged at folk on walks, jumps up at folk who visit, and still barks a bit in the evenings when we are sitting to watch tv, but I have nearly sorted that by shutting her in the kitchen for ten minutes or so. I then got a long lecture on dogs being 98% wolf, and two per cent dog!! I listened intently, Chloe was lying on the floor sort of crying, not barking, you have a stressed out dog she said, she is the dominant one and is caring for you, and worrying about you, (I have had a dog over fortyfive years now) you need to be the pack leader she said, she must go out the door second, I told her we went out the front door, over the lip of the bottom of the door on to three steps, Chloe goes out first,waits for me whilst I lock the door, then walks with me and we start our walk. She walks so well until we meet someone.
    Does she demand her food, no, does she demand walks, no, and in the end with all this wolf pack business I was totally confused, to the point I have been awake most of the night wondering what I am doing to my beloved dog. She never gets us up in the night, waits until I get up whether it is 8 or 9, goes to bed when told downstairs, etc, I thought we were doing well.
    Then it dawned on me during the night, when we were in the vets, Chloe was lying down whilst this lady went on and on about dominance, wolves and all that, and the stress would be that only a week ago she had an op, and was in the room where I collected her from, to me that makes much more sense, and I would really like to have your opinion. She got in the car and went to sleep immediately worn out. Bless her.

    I think the behaviourist had read it wrong?

    Chloe is harder work than our other two labs, she does chew her toys, my last lab Rosie was a Pets as Therapy dog at 2. Different temperament though. Chloe is from gun dog stock but we are getting there, slowly.

    I would really value what you think, and am even thinking of printing off the articles about Wolves and next time we go to the vets, will take a copy with me??

    Best wishes to all, I am so grateful for this website.
    Val

    not relevant to this thread, but I was told she is 29 kg, she should be 26kg, what do you think of that?
     
  18. VAl

    VAl Registered Users

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    Re: Important information on dominance

    PS SHE GAVE ME THESE LINKS TO READ
    Jan Fennel The dog listener
    Gill Tuxworth Dog listener
    Confused dogs.com

    Have had a look at these, and personally, I prefer what I have read on here. Val
     
  19. JulieT

    JulieT Registered Users

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    Re: Important information on dominance

    [quote author=VAl link=topic=1705.msg65824#msg65824 date=1396605468]
    I then got a long lecture on dogs being 98% wolf, and two per cent dog!! I listened intently, Chloe was lying on the floor sort of crying, not barking, you have a stressed out dog she said, she is the dominant one and is caring for you, and worrying about you,
    [/quote]

    Hmm...yes, I got a long lecture from the vet nurse about Charlie mouthing fingers (when he was 8 weeks old). Terrible behaviour that must be clamped down on immediately or I'd have a dog that savaged people as an adult. I was pretty surprised. She believed in all that dominance stuff too.

    [quote author=VAl link=topic=1705.msg65824#msg65824 date=1396605468]

    not relevant to this thread, but I was told she is 29 kg, she should be 26kg, what do you think of that?
    [/quote]

    Do you think maybe she needs to lose a couple kilos?
     
  20. Oberon

    Oberon Moderator Forum Supporter

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    Re: Important information on dominance

    Val, to be perfectly honest, I would just forget that you met that behaviourist. Sounds like she has read a few out of date books and now feels like an expert ;) I'd say that you know more than she does. I think your analysis is the right one - Chloe was a bit stressed because of the environment and was probably a bit worn out and confused by it all too.

    Dogs don't have aspirations for world domination and are not interested in running our lives. :)
     

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