What does a dominant dog look like?

Discussion in 'Behavioural science and dog training philosophy' started by snowbunny, Oct 7, 2017.

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  1. snowbunny

    snowbunny Registered Users

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    Answers on a postcard please :D

    I've been thinking about this recently, so thought I would open it up to the floor to get some thoughts.

    If I were to say, "Snoopy is a very dominant dog", and gave you no more information, what would your immediate impression be of Snoopy? How does he behave?

    There are no right or wrong answers, I'm just really interested to hear what pictures those words conjure up.
     
  2. Jojo83

    Jojo83 Registered Users

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    My first pucture is of a dog quivering with fear offering appeasement signals while it's owner is instructed on training and behaviour by Cesar Millan
     
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  3. selina27

    selina27 Registered Users

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    First thing that popped into my mind is a large dog circling another dog not so big with stiff legs and hackles up, tail held high.
     
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  4. SwampDonkey

    SwampDonkey Registered Users

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    My first was what do you mean by dominant?
    then my second would be snippy sounds like he's misunderstood
     
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  5. snowbunny

    snowbunny Registered Users

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    That's the thing. I suppose I could rephrase it to ask, when you hear me say "Snoopy is a very dominant dog", what do you think I am seeing to come to that opinion?

    I'm obviously trying to get an impression of what springs to mind, without thinking too deeply, when you (or a layperson) hear the word "dominant" in relation to dogs.
     
  6. Emily_BabbelHund

    Emily_BabbelHund Longest on the Forum without an actual dog

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    Good question. In my CM days (don't hurt me, I've seen the light) I would say a dog who tries to mount other dogs, who has to mark (wee) everywhere, who has to have his head above other dogs' heads (I'm thinking of my devil toy poodle who always had to perch on top of the sofa so he was taller than Brogan), who guarded/hoarded food or toys, etc.

    Now I think of it more as a blanket excuse that people use who don't want to work with their dog to channel their energy or train them. Someone I know with a snotty little dog who is always snapping at other dogs, pulling on his leash and being a general menace always says, "Oh, well, you know I can't do anything with him because he's just naturally very dominant." o_O
     
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  7. Boogie

    Boogie Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    I’ve never met one.

    I’ve met happy, cheerful, easy going, bossy, fearful, nervous, anxious and aggressive dogs - but I don’t know what a dominant dog is.

    Mollie comes under the ‘bossy’ label! She’s pushy and always likes to be first in the queue for everything. But I wouldn’t call her ‘dominant’. She’s friendly and happy.

    :)
     
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  8. Joy

    Joy Registered Users

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    I think perhaps we’re a bit scared of using the term ‘dominant’ because of not wanting to be associated with CM’s methods of dealing with dogs (who were in any case often just frightened.)

    However, I think you can see some dogs being more dominant than others. I would say a dominant dog is one given way to by other dogs. I’m thinking of three dogs my sister used to have. They were all fed in separate rooms but the Collie used to like to leave her food in the bowl and nibble at it now and then. The spaniel and Lab didn’t attempt to touch her bowl even though the Collie never snapped at them - I suppose she was giving off other signals. Now she has three different dogs - her Lab will take toys from the springer but not from the cocker. I’d say the cocker was dominant.
    I could imagine a more dominant dog pushing another out of the way to get to cuddle a human for example. If another dog chases Molly’s ball she will always let them have it -I think she could be considered less dominant than other dogs. However she can also be very persistent with me when she wants me to do something ( she’s leaning hard against me now because she wants me to stop typing and play) so I suppose that could be called an attempt at dominance.
     
  9. UncleBob

    UncleBob Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Like he and his owner have just stepped out of the Tardis on a trip from the 1980s ;)
     
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  10. 20180815

    20180815 Guest

    Either a confident dog, or a dog with aggression issues that the owner minimises by calling it dominant.
     
  11. SwampDonkey

    SwampDonkey Registered Users

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    for me I think of it of as the games doggies play to get what they want. Some are not skilled so use violent ways and force and some are socially skilled and clever and you barely notice their success.I love watching doggies, obviously nothing else:rolleyes:
    I also think it's what we bring to the equation too. some people like to dominate and command and seem to get a thrill from their dog being aggressive, and ive seen this a lot living were i do.
    My dogs like to play games with me to get what they want it's funny they are clever inventive things. I suppose they according to some trying to dominate me, but we live harmoniously happily and enjoyably. They were drafted they didn't choose to be with me they deserve to develop into fully functioning happy dogs. I enjoy the interaction so do they we all know how to oil the wheels ;) So to answer your question in the best way I would say that if someone described a dog as dominant i would look for a perhsps aggressive scared dog with poor social skills for whatever reason. A dog who perhaps lacks patience and can't cope with frustration. A dog who won't wait and plan. A dog who does not trust.
     
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  12. drjs@5

    drjs@5 Registered Users

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    Are dominant dogs always dominant, or are they just more pushy/bossy in certain situations with certain dogs?

    With Lilly, she has been (in the past) known to roll a younger dog over and stand over him growling. That seems like dominant/aggressive.
    At other times she will do the lying down appeasement stuff when other dogs approach in the woods.
    Or do the tail rigid and turning her back and looking away thing.

    Just wondering if it is a fixed response in a dog, or, as I said, situational.
     
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  13. Oberon

    Oberon Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    I wouldn't describe a dog as dominant but if anyone did this'd be what'd spring to my mind too.
     
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  14. Stacia

    Stacia Registered Users

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    Well the name Snoopy does colour my initial impression of a dominant dog :D On a more serious note, the impression that comes into my mind is of a calm dog who has presence to other dogs. However, if I was to think of Snoopy being a very dominant dog to humans I would see a dog who has seen a chink in the 'owners' armour' and takes his advantage to what he perceives to be rewarding to him, which may be that he sees not boundaries.
     
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  15. selina27

    selina27 Registered Users

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    Perhaps our interpretation of dominant dogs comes from our own experience as human beings, whether we ourselves have been dominanted or are domineering individuals.
     
  16. Emily

    Emily Registered Users

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    I think of Snoopy as being a friendly dog that meets lots of other dogs. The majority of other dogs say hello and then lie down with their belly up to Snoopy. Snoopy is probably a bit boisterous and pushes his weight around a little.

    I think of dominance as a dog-dog relationship behaviour rather than a dog-human relationship behaviour.
     
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  17. Emily

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    I suppose my first thought is a that dog that goes with option A for the majority of meetings could be seen as dominant. A dog that goes with option B for the majority of dog meetings could be seen as submissive and a dog that does a mix, depending on this situation could be seen as balanced/normal (or a more appropriate word).
     
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  18. SwampDonkey

    SwampDonkey Registered Users

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    I don't think it's a accident you find a lot of women in this type of dog training do you ?
     
  19. Joy

    Joy Registered Users

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    Though in humans being ‘dominant’ and being ‘domineering’ are not quite the same. I imagine many of us have held positions of authority at work, which make us dominant / in charge, but ‘domineering’ comes with the sense of being overbearing and self-opinionated.
    Not sure how this applies to dogs. I suppose a dominant dog would be confident and know what to do, whereas a domineering dog might be aggressive in order to get what it wanted.
     
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  20. snowbunny

    snowbunny Registered Users

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    Loving all these answers! I’m going nuh-nights now, but will join in with my own thoughts tomorrow :)
     
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