The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

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The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

Post by Sylvaen » Thu Aug 05, 2010 4:23 am

The original alpha/dominance model was born out of short-term studies of wolf packs done in the 1940s. These were the first studies of their kind. These studies were a good start, but later research has essentially disproved most of the findings. There were three major flaws in these studies:

1. These studies were short term studies, so the researchers concentrated on the most obvious, overt parts of wolf life, such as hunting. The studies are therefore unrepresentative- drawing conclusions about “wolf behaviour” based on about one per cent of wolf life;
2. The studies observed what are now known to be ritualistic displays and misinterpreted them. Unfortunately, this is where the bulk of the “dominance model” comes from, and though the information has been soundly disproved, it still thrives in the dog training mythos.
For example: alpha rolls. The early researchers saw this behaviour and concluded that the higher ranking wolf was forcibly rolling the subordinate to exert his dominance. Well, not exactly. This is actually an “appeasement ritual” instigated by the subordinate wolf. The subordinate offers his muzzle and, when the higher ranking wolf “pins” it, the lower ranking wolf voluntarily rolls and presents his belly. There is no force; it is entirely voluntary.
A wolf would flip another wolf against his will only if he were planning to kill it. Can you imagine what a forced alpha roll does to the pysche of our dogs?
3. Finally, after the studies, the researchers made cavalier extrapolations from wolf-dog, dog-dog and dog-human based on their “findings”. Unfortunately, this nonsense still abounds.

So what’s the truth? The truth is that dogs aren’t wolves. Honestly, when you take into account the number of generations past, saying “I want to learn how to interact with my dog so I’ll learn from the wolves” makes about as much sense as saying, “I want to improve my parenting- let’s see how the chimps do it!”

Dr Frank Beach performed a thirty year study on dogs at Yale and UC Berkeley. Nineteen years of study was devoted to social behaviour of a dog pack. (Not a wolf pack, a dog pack). Some of his findings:

* Male dogs have a rigid hierarchy;
* Female dogs have a hierarchy, but it’s more variable;
* When you mix the sexes, the rules get mixed up. Males try to follow their constitution, but the female have “amendments”;
* Young puppies have what’s called a “puppy license”. Basically, that’s a license to do almost anything. B.itches are more tolerant of puppy license than males are;
* The puppy license is revoked at approximately four months of age. At that time, the older middle-ranked dogs literally give the puppy hell- psychologically torturing it until it offers all of the appropriate appeasement behaviours and takes its place at the bottom of the social hierarchy. The top ranked dogs ignore the whole thing;
* There is no physical domination. Everything is accomplished through psychological harassment. It’s all ritualistic;
* A small minority of “alpha” dogs assumed their position by bullying and force. Those that did were quickly deposed. No one likes a dictator;
* The vast majority of alpha dogs rule benevolently. They are confident in their position. They do not stopp to squabbling to prove a point. To do so would lower their status because…
* Middle ranked animals squabble. They are insecure in their positions and want to advance over the other middle ranked animals;
* Low ranked animals do not squabble. They know they would lose. They know their position and they accept it;
* “Alpha” does not mean physically dominant. It means “in control of resources”. Many, many alpha dogs are too small or too frail to physically dominate. But they have earned the right to control the valued resources. An individual dog determines which resources he considers important. Thus an alpha dog may give up a prime sleeping place because he simply couldn’t care less.

So what does this mean for the dog-human relationship?

* Using physical force of any kind reduces your “rank”. Only middle ranked animals insecure in their place squabble;
* To be “alpha”, control the resources. I don’t mean hokey stuff like not allowing dogs on beds or preceding them through doorways. I mean making resources contingent on behaviour. Does the dog want to be fed. Great- ask him to sit first. Does the dog want to go outside? Sit first. Does the dog want to greet people? Sit first. Want to play a game? Sit first. Or whatever. If you are proactive enough to control the things your dog wants, you are alpha by definition;
* Train your dog. This is the dog-human equivalent of the “revoking puppy license” phase in dog development. Children, women, elderly people, handicapped people- all are capable of training a dog. Very few people are capable of physical dominance;
* Reward deferential behaviour rather than pushy behaviour. I have two dogs. If one pushes in front of the other, the other gets the attention, the food, whatever the other dog wanted first. The first dog to sit gets treated. Pulling on the lead goes nowhere. Doors don’t open until dogs are seated and I say they may go out. Reward pushy, you get pushy.

Your job is to be a leader, not a boss, not a dictator. Leadership is a huge responsibility. Your job is to provide for all your dog’s needs… food, water, vet care, social needs, security, etc. If you fail to provide what your dog needs, your dog will try to satisfy those needs on his own.

In a recent article in the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) newsletter, Dr Ray Coppinger- a biology professor at Hampshire College, co-founder of the Livestock Guarding Dog Project, author of several books including Dogs: A Startling New Understanding of Canine Origin, Behaviour and Evolution; and an extremely well respected member of the dog training community- says in regards to the dominance model (alpha rolling):

I cannot think of many learning situations where I want my learning dogs responding with fear and lack of motion. I never want my animals to be thinking social hierarchy. Once they do, they will be spending their time trying to figure out how to move up that social hierarchy.

-2001 Melissa C. Alexander.
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Re: The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

Post by Misaya » Sun Aug 15, 2010 9:14 am

Extremely interesting article Debby.
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Re: The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

Post by eMic » Fri May 13, 2011 4:24 pm

Excellent and to the point. I wish I could force all dog owners to read this... and by force I mean of course psychological harassment :D

Honestly, I get so mad and sad by watching some dog-owners. Sometimes I stop and *gently* try to help the situation by talking to them, but its really rude to walk up to strangers and start lecturing and you really can't reach them all.
The other day I met a woman who was pulling hard on the leash several times, turns out she doesn't want the dog to pull. I asked how old the dog is and how long she had this problem. Turns out she has been pulling the poor creature's neck for 5 years - without improvement - and she still keeps doing it ?!? Where is the heart and the intelligence humans are so quick to boost?

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Re: The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

Post by HiTenshi16 » Fri May 13, 2011 4:42 pm

Great article and fun read, thanks for sharing Debby :)
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Re: The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

Post by TerriHolt » Sat May 14, 2011 8:28 am

that is very usefull, thanks. i may print it off for my partner as sam will not, under any circumstances listen to him... actually, the only person sam will listen to is me... :?. if i leave the room, he will "bully" my partner.
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Re: The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

Post by Gaby » Sat May 14, 2011 9:04 am

Nice article! At the dog school where I train we teach like this. I like that very much. :D

@ Terri, that's difficult, hope your partner finds this article useful!

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Re: The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

Post by AZDehlin » Thu May 19, 2011 12:28 am

Super interesting and useful.

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Re: The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

Post by Czertice » Mon Oct 17, 2011 5:31 pm

Quite interesting. Thanks for sharing.
There is a point where I would disagree though> Children, women, elderly people, handicapped people- all are capable of training a dog. I'd like to see for example a handicapped person train a headstrong Rottweiler - what I mean to say is that this is a dangerous generalization. It declares that any person can train any dog. I don't think so.
I am a fan of the saying "The biggest dog you should own is the one which you are capable of lifting on the vet's table." ;)

Reward pushy, you get pushy.
So true! :twisted:
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Re: The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

Post by sequoia » Sat Dec 31, 2011 1:05 am

What a great read - thanks for sharing!
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Re: The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

Post by Tsir » Sun Jan 29, 2012 9:15 pm

It does raise a question about Cesar millan's "rehabilitation method". Does he teach the dogs with fear? The fear to do the same behaviour again. He sometimes uses a very physical reaction for misbehaving dogs. (throwing dogs on their sides for example). Though I watch his show now and then, I don't follow him, neither do I want to start a grande Cesar Millan debate here.
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Re: The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

Post by TerriHolt » Sun Jan 29, 2012 11:39 pm

Tsir wrote:It does raise a question about Cesar millan's "rehabilitation method". Does he teach the dogs with fear? The fear to do the same behaviour again. He sometimes uses a very physical reaction for misbehaving dogs. (throwing dogs on their sides for example). Though I watch his show now and then, I don't follow him, neither do I want to start a grande Cesar Millan debate here.
he does use dominance/fear (among others) based teaching, i prefer reward based teachings, victoria stillwell, she seems kinder and less harsh. i have questioned the "dominance theory" on and off for a while because for one thing, i don't like the "a dog is a dog and must be treat as such" attitude because i have my kids and my fur babys with dogs and cats :D

everybody has their own preference and i'll be the first to admit that Cesar millan has suggested things that has worked for me, things that doesn't bother me about using. but i can't say that because i don't like the way he does things that it doesn't work. he has saved many, many dogs from been PTS from agression. so i guess i's what ever works best (altho i don't think even he can solve my grandmas border terrier problem :lol: )
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There’s a battle between two wolves inside us all.
One is Evil. It’s anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies and ego.
The other is Good. It’s joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness and truth.

The wolf that wins? The one you feed!

~ Cherokee Proverb

Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity... I'm not sure about the former.

~ Albert Einstein

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Re: The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

Post by Tiantai » Tue Feb 14, 2012 10:26 pm

In the book Dogs: a Startling New Understanding of Canine Origin, Behavior and Evolution. (published by New York: Scribner) by Raymond and Lorna Coppinger, the two experts whom have observed wild FERAL DOGS behaviours have drawn many similarities and differences between how a wolf pack operates and that of a feral pack.

I agree that dominant wolves do NOT force their subordinates to roll over as that would no longer be seen as being the authority but rather bullying and IF the wolf was to go around and constantly bully the subordinates then the other pack members would eventually gang up and punish that bully which can also lead to its death. You see, the alpha pair are the most respected by all of the other pack members not by their strength but because those beta and omega wolves TRUST the alpha pair and sees them as being worthy for leadership. Alpha is NOT defined by physical strength and definitely not but the use of brutality (that's human crap) but by their intelligents, confidents, tolerants, and benevolence. If you watched the Sawtooth Pack, Komats' brother-in-law Wahots was actually far more muscular (if there's no better word for it) and stronger but in the end Komats' confidence to lead won over Wahots'.

But in feral dogs, although much of the pack operates like the wolf such as there being an alpha pair in some or just a single lead female in most, the difference is that the status omega does not exist, the alpha pair do not impose this order of who gets to eat first when they stumble on a dead carcass of an animal, the general behaviours depend on what breed of dog this feral pack is compose of (whether it be a pack of pugs or pariah dogs), and male dogs (except for the pariah-types) tend not to take the safety of their pups as seriously compared to the wolves even though some do feed and defend them to some extent. In most cases, feral dogs do not impose their dominance the same way as the wolves such as how they don't demand the subordinates to stay behind them when travelling while for wolves the alpha pair would remind any betas to get back if one accidentally runs ahead of them. Dogs run on a less strict canine government than wolves and you definitely won't find the alpha pair controlling the breeding in the pack like the wolves plus some feral dogs (such as the Carolina breed) are more willing to accept any new adult pack members from outside to join in while a wolf may tolerate those helpless canine pups (regardless whether it's a dog, coyote, or another wolf) but would slaughter any other adult wolves from outside the pack stepping on their turf. There is a HUGE difference in the wolf and dog government and humans definitely can't treat a dog like a wolf and a lot of what beta + wolves do to show their authorities over each beta - such as knocking a lower rank member over for getting in front of them is not understood by dogs.
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Re: The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

Post by Sion » Fri Mar 16, 2012 1:41 pm

Czertice wrote:Quite interesting. Thanks for sharing.
There is a point where I would disagree though> Children, women, elderly people, handicapped people- all are capable of training a dog. I'd like to see for example a handicapped person train a headstrong Rottweiler - what I mean to say is that this is a dangerous generalization. It declares that any person can train any dog. I don't think so.
I am a fan of the saying "The biggest dog you should own is the one which you are capable of lifting on the vet's table." ;)

Reward pushy, you get pushy.
So true! :twisted:
Having been in that position, I say the biggest dog you should own is one you can carry back home from the furthest point on your walk when he hurts his leg. And it will be the furthest point from home where the daft pooch does it! I looked like Errol Flynn carrying the deer into Nottingham Castle :)
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Re: The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

Post by JulieSmith » Fri Mar 16, 2012 2:42 pm

Sion wrote:
Czertice wrote:Quite interesting. Thanks for sharing.
There is a point where I would disagree though> Children, women, elderly people, handicapped people- all are capable of training a dog. I'd like to see for example a handicapped person train a headstrong Rottweiler - what I mean to say is that this is a dangerous generalization. It declares that any person can train any dog. I don't think so.
I am a fan of the saying "The biggest dog you should own is the one which you are capable of lifting on the vet's table." ;)

Reward pushy, you get pushy.
So true! :twisted:
Having been in that position, I say the biggest dog you should own is one you can carry back home from the furthest point on your walk when he hurts his leg. And it will be the furthest point from home where the daft pooch does it! I looked like Errol Flynn carrying the deer into Nottingham Castle :)

:lol: I am just going to have to hope Saga does not hurt herself. Not sure I could carry her that far.

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Re: The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

Post by TerriHolt » Fri Mar 16, 2012 3:02 pm

JulieSmith wrote:
Sion wrote:
Czertice wrote:Quite interesting. Thanks for sharing.
There is a point where I would disagree though> Children, women, elderly people, handicapped people- all are capable of training a dog. I'd like to see for example a handicapped person train a headstrong Rottweiler - what I mean to say is that this is a dangerous generalization. It declares that any person can train any dog. I don't think so.
I am a fan of the saying "The biggest dog you should own is the one which you are capable of lifting on the vet's table." ;)

Reward pushy, you get pushy.
So true! :twisted:
Having been in that position, I say the biggest dog you should own is one you can carry back home from the furthest point on your walk when he hurts his leg. And it will be the furthest point from home where the daft pooch does it! I looked like Errol Flynn carrying the deer into Nottingham Castle :)

:lol: I am just going to have to hope Saga does not hurt herself. Not sure I could carry her that far.

i already thought of that and i got a doggie friendly taxi on hand just in case the need should arise :lol: ... he charges extra for any heavy lifting and carrying tho :mrgreen: . also got a few family members who would help too...
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There’s a battle between two wolves inside us all.
One is Evil. It’s anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies and ego.
The other is Good. It’s joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness and truth.

The wolf that wins? The one you feed!

~ Cherokee Proverb

Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity... I'm not sure about the former.

~ Albert Einstein

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Re: The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

Post by Sion » Fri Mar 16, 2012 3:07 pm

That wouldn't have worked for me. I was equidistant from my house and the nearest road! Grr
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Re: The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

Post by JulieSmith » Sat Mar 17, 2012 4:23 pm

Sion wrote:That wouldn't have worked for me. I was equidistant from my house and the nearest road! Grr
I am just thinking that where I go walking the most there are no roads nearer than where I park my car, so I will be in trouble if she does hurt herself and can not walk, I will just have to hope there is a strong man around :lol: :lol:

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Re: The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

Post by Tatzel » Fri Mar 30, 2012 10:47 pm

I wished more people would read this article (especially all those Cesear Millan fans...) and educate themselves.

Only a little more than a year ago I still believed in the whole "alpha and domincance theory" myself because I didn't knew any better, and because that's what you get to hear from most sides.
It was only when I picked up two books written by Erik Zimen who studied dogs, wolves and wolf hybrids that I figured out what an actual leader makes a leader.

I don't know where I put the link, but basically I found a video on youtube not too long ago where the scientist who originally made up the term Alpha wolf and Alpha roll regretting that he ever published these terms and that he takes it all back (because he was simply wrong about it)
Appearently scientists also no longer use the term "alpha" when adressing the head of a wild wolf pack.

All that aside, thank you for sharing!
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Re: The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

Post by Tiantai » Fri Mar 30, 2012 11:31 pm

Tatzel wrote:I wished more people would read this article (especially all those Cesar Millan fans...) and educate themselves.

Only a little more than a year ago I still believed in the whole "alpha and domincance theory" myself because I didn't knew any better, and because that's what you get to hear from most sides.
It was only when I picked up two books written by Erik Zimen who studied dogs, wolves and wolf hybrids that I figured out what an actual leader makes a leader.

I don't know where I put the link, but basically I found a video on youtube not too long ago where the scientist who originally made up the term Alpha wolf and Alpha roll regretting that he ever published these terms and that he takes it all back (because he was simply wrong about it)
Appearently scientists also no longer use the term "alpha" when adressing the head of a wild wolf pack.

All that aside, thank you for sharing!
Well I am a fan of Millan to be honest but I don't actually believe in "everything" that Millan says. There are many things he does that I don't agree with though some of his advices like discouraging a new pup from leaping on the bed that you sleep in and reminding the dog that you "own the bed and it's yours" if you're one of those people who don't want your dog sleeping in it every night is a valid example as well as keeping the dog out of the baby's crib. The dominance thing is pretty off though and in my opinion, contrary to what he says about the dog claiming the sofa out of dominance, that's total BS. It's more of an "I like this spot" because dogs have personalities like us and thus some just have this comfortable spot they want to keep. It has nothing to do with dominance and same for preventing the dog from leaping into the crib. It's rather a safety measure as well as a type of discipline. Millan is tying almost everything to dominance and that where I disagree with him. Dogs have various reasons to want to defend what they find precious to them whether it's an item or another living thing, much like how kids may feel violated when another person takes away their Nintendo DS of which they like and feel a sense of ownership towards. Has nothing to do with dominance.
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Re: The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

Post by Tatzel » Sat Mar 31, 2012 2:19 am

fangjingtuanlucas wrote: Well I am a fan of Millan to be honest but I don't actually believe in "everything" that Millan says. There are many things he does that I don't agree with though some of his advices like discouraging a new pup from leaping on the bed that you sleep in and reminding the dog that you "own the bed and it's yours" if you're one of those people who don't want your dog sleeping in it every night is a valid example as well as keeping the dog out of the baby's crib. The dominance thing is pretty off though and in my opinion, contrary to what he says about the dog claiming the sofa out of dominance, that's total BS. It's more of an "I like this spot" because dogs have personalities like us and thus some just have this comfortable spot they want to keep. It has nothing to do with dominance and same for preventing the dog from leaping into the crib. It's rather a safety measure as well as a type of discipline. Millan is tying almost everything to dominance and that where I disagree with him. Dogs have various reasons to want to defend what they find precious to them whether it's an item or another living thing, much like how kids may feel violated when another person takes away their Nintendo DS of which they like and feel a sense of ownership towards. Has nothing to do with dominance.
I have less of a problem of what Millan preaches (even though his dominance talk is bullocks) than what he practises.
Cruel methods like these http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gq62POnD7sA make me despise him, even though I think he's intentions are actually good (wanting to help the dogs).
He doesn't seem to have a good idea about proper dog training and dog mentality though, he seems to excuse every behaviour with a domincance problem (as you said), even if the dogs are obviously fearful in the videos, and not dominant.

I agree with a couple of things he says, like needing to be a calm and collected leader, but yeah his methods. They really put me off, because among choke collars he uses kicks and electuded collars as well as lifting dogs off ground by holding them up by their neck fur/skin and this is just... animal abuse in my eyes.
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Re: The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

Post by Czertice » Sat Mar 31, 2012 6:30 am

Sion wrote:
Czertice wrote:Quite interesting. Thanks for sharing.
There is a point where I would disagree though> Children, women, elderly people, handicapped people- all are capable of training a dog. I'd like to see for example a handicapped person train a headstrong Rottweiler - what I mean to say is that this is a dangerous generalization. It declares that any person can train any dog. I don't think so.
I am a fan of the saying "The biggest dog you should own is the one which you are capable of lifting on the vet's table." ;)

Reward pushy, you get pushy.
So true! :twisted:
Having been in that position, I say the biggest dog you should own is one you can carry back home from the furthest point on your walk when he hurts his leg. And it will be the furthest point from home where the daft pooch does it! I looked like Errol Flynn carrying the deer into Nottingham Castle :)
Oh dear. In that case I should go and immediately return Raksha to her breeder;] I'm glad nothing happened to her so far, but if it did, I'd call for help.
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Re: The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

Post by Tiantai » Sat Mar 31, 2012 5:41 pm

Tatzel wrote:
I have less of a problem of what Millan preaches (even though his dominance talk is bullocks) than what he practises.
Cruel methods like these http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gq62POnD7sA make me despise him, even though I think he's intentions are actually good (wanting to help the dogs).
He doesn't seem to have a good idea about proper dog training and dog mentality though, he seems to excuse every behaviour with a domincance problem (as you said), even if the dogs are obviously fearful in the videos, and not dominant.

I agree with a couple of things he says, like needing to be a calm and collected leader, but yeah his methods. They really put me off, because among choke collars he uses kicks and electuded collars as well as lifting dogs off ground by holding them up by their neck fur/skin and this is just... animal abuse in my eyes.
Yeah I agree with you. Most of his advices about being "calm" and "assertive" helped me do better on getting Snoopy to stop challenging me on walks. The importance of having "confidence" and not showing nervousness because that's how dogs feel secure when they're with a familliar person who they have trust in. But when he ties dominance with all the other things that have nothing to do with it, that just turns my mind off. I recall from two episodes where he had to deal with dogs that had a "problem" with leaping into their swimming pools or at the lake before their owners. I don't see how leaping into the water at the beach earlier than everyone else a dominant behaviour. For humans, yeah I guess we as parents would want our little children to wait before we let them into the water and wouldn't want our kids dashing into the water ahead of us before any adults are on supervision and I guess it's more of a safety thing. Afterall, with children, we are in charge and need to be responsible so I understand that part. Cuz we want our kids to stay as safely as possible. But for dogs, they're not humans, and for Millan to treat this leaping into the water ahead of you as trying to be the authority over the person is bull.... :roll: Neither the alpha pairs of wild wolves or primitive dog packs care who jumps into the water first when stopping by a beach.

Also, startling a dog with a collar to keep it away from a snake as he showed in his special episode with Will Smith's family has nothing to do with the owner being a leader either. While I do believe that he had good intentions as we don't want our dogs engaging in a snake fight (some snakes are poisonous), I think that shock is really overdoing it as well. The idea was to teach the dog to stay away from a snake but I think what he really encoded in their minds was "stay away from snake or be zapped by owner".
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Re: The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

Post by Storealex » Sun Apr 01, 2012 11:33 am

I think some of the criticism against him is unfair. I have read one of his books about puppy raising, and in that he never describes any of the extreme methods you see on TV. The TV stuff is extreme methods for extreme cases and he does advice people not to try them themselves, but rather seek proffessional help for their problems. In the cases I have seen, it was either cruel methods or the dog would probably end up dead, but the way he actually wants dog owners to treat their dogs, have none of the cruel methods.

Just saying, he has probably saved a lot of dogs which were "beyond help" and would otherwise have been killed in an accident or been left at a shelter.

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Re: The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

Post by Tatzel » Sun Apr 01, 2012 1:47 pm

fangjingtuanlucas wrote:Neither the alpha pairs of wild wolves or primitive dog packs care who jumps into the water first when stopping by a beach.
Hahaha, yes, that!
I think as far as I remember he's also someone who advices to -not- allow a dog on the sofa or bed?
No leading wolf of a pack has any special resting place only he is allowed to take, what a lot of bull. Personally, I wouldn't allow my dog in my bed because of dirt and doghair, but that's only me. My dog would be free to chill on my sofa though, especially when cuddling with me c:
Storealex wrote:Just saying, he has probably saved a lot of dogs which were "beyond help" and would otherwise have been killed in an accident or been left at a shelter.
I got into arguements with Millan fans on youtube, and this is some point a lot of them arised. While I agree that he saved these dog's lifes (because if it wasn't for his 'help', the owners surely would have put their dogs down), the fact that they're red flag/red zone dogs is no excuse to treat them the way he did, and I honestly doubt the dogs are going to behave any better in the future. All he does is force them into submission and so called learned helpnessless, but he's not working on the actual underlying problems.

I'd like to direct you to the following website; http://drsophiayin.com/philosophy/dominance/
Veterinarian and professional animal behaviourist Sophia Yin explains the dominance controversy in this article and also shows examples of her (humane) way of treating red flag dogs in comparison to Cesear Millan's methods. I think after watching this you might agree that Millan's methods are cruel and not exactly going to help the dogs, especially not the one who hates grooming. I doubt the dog is going to improve on being groomed the way Millan treats him in the video, simply because the dog is not learning to associate grooming with something positive.

I don't mean to disregard Millan fans, by the way. Again, some things he says makes sense, but others just don't, and I really am put off by his methods.
I think like with all dog whisperer or animal behaviourist shows on TV it's best to step back, observe, judge, be critical and then decide for yourself what to take out of it. ;)
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Re: The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

Post by Tiantai » Sun Apr 01, 2012 7:13 pm

Yeah, a few people here think that I've been overly zombified by Millan. To balance the scale, I don't like some of his methods like the way he uses a shock collar to instill fear against pit bulls (or other breeds) from fighting other passing by dogs or the way he makes all of the dogs look like they are below him. That's not part of being alpha, that's just forcing individuals to cooperate against their wills. While I don't want my relatives' dogs that I've dogsitted walking over 5 meters ahead of me (I'm more of a yin-yang type of person wanting to keep the "problematic" dogs beside me but that's just me), I NEVER try to force them back with a "kick" like he does. And Snoopy used to be a problematic type for me because he's very smart and likes to try and challenge everyone, not just me but his true owner who walks him a lot. But that doesn't mean that he's trying to be the authority over my uncle, it just means (at least to me) that he's a smart dog who knows how to question the purpose of following the leader and basically think for himself, and by keeping him beside me, I am not being forceful but just wanting to keep a balance energy between the two of us (which is what Millan teaches, balance). I just don't like the way Millan does it on tv but as Tatzel has pointed out, it's always crucial to observe carefully what you see and question whether you think that method will work for you or not. While I don't agree with some of Millan's methods, I also don't agree with several people on facebook like Dales who's been flat-out slandering Millan for everything including the way he criticizes some of what Millan's doing which are correct such as encouraging the owners to stay calm when dealing with an insecure dog. Also, like Millan, I (along with a lot of us here) do share a common ground with him in which we don't agree with the banning of pit bulls in some provinces and states but that's another story.
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Re: The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

Post by TerriHolt » Tue Apr 03, 2012 6:47 pm

the biggest problem i have with millan is the fact he silences these extreme cases...

those dogs that the owner would normally have PST, he kicks them and tells them no for been aggressive, not look to the root of the problem and try to avert it in the first place and get the dog over it's aggression/fear... but he is making the dogs fearful of showing aggression and that is the most dangerous of all dogs... an aggressive dog that shows no warning of impending attack... it will come out of no where and at full force... so he technically is not saving the dogs life but insuring that someone will get hurt before the dogs is PTS. but if other methods and ways he could save the dog and make sure no one gets hurt...

i don't like the 'Dominance Theory' all that much anyway... humans have bred dogs away from the wild counter parts... they can't keep comparing the 2 as they are nothing alike... they have to move away from "wolves in the wild do this so you train a domestic dog this way because wolves do that"...

but it seems to work for some people so it can't be all bad :D
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Re: The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

Post by Tiantai » Tue Apr 10, 2012 12:48 am

TerriHolt wrote: i don't like the 'Dominance Theory' all that much anyway... humans have bred dogs away from the wild counter parts... they can't keep comparing the 2 as they are nothing alike... they have to move away from "wolves in the wild do this so you train a domestic dog this way because wolves do that"...

but it seems to work for some people so it can't be all bad :D
One of the interesting things I've seen in wolves, primitive dogs, and domestic dogs is that not only do they share some common grounds in the hierarchy pyramid (even though the two are mostly different in the ways they follow the pack with the former two being more serious-minded) but that they also have a way of expressing their affections in which the more submissive dogs, regardless of breeds, tend to have a way of licking and following the more dominant around like a little kid following their parents closely. I guess for canines, regardless whether we look at the exotic or domestic ones, they as pack-oriented animals are all programmed by nature to be very affectionate which may be what motivates these animals to take care of each other. I've seen the dominate pairs of Eastern wolves standing very closely to a slightly limping companion (don't know what happened to that she-wolf now) while the rest of the subordinates stood guard from the outside of the ring as the pack navigated to the lake for a drink. While I've never seen a dog do such a thing as that, I've also seen my gramp's Snoopy acting very protective around old Tutu, Buddy's younger brother, during that chihuahua's last two years while visiting. Overall, I think regardless who is in charge of the pack, the canine society both wild and domestic seems to have this whole "protect the weak one" thing which is what allows them to get through many tough moments in life.
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Re: The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

Post by Tatzel » Thu Aug 16, 2012 4:04 pm

Tiantai wrote:One of the interesting things I've seen in wolves, primitive dogs, and domestic dogs is that not only do they share some common grounds in the hierarchy pyramid (even though the two are mostly different in the ways they follow the pack with the former two being more serious-minded) but that they also have a way of expressing their affections in which the more submissive dogs, regardless of breeds, tend to have a way of licking and following the more dominant around like a little kid following their parents closely. I guess for canines, regardless whether we look at the exotic or domestic ones, they as pack-oriented animals are all programmed by nature to be very affectionate which may be what motivates these animals to take care of each other.
That's quite easy to explain (and another reason for why the dominance theory is bogus); a naturally formed wolf pack is made of two parents (male and female) and their (juvenile) offspring. When the pups mature, they'll leave the pack to wander off, find a mate and create their own pack. The dominance theory was based on wolf studies in an enclosed envoirement with a very unnatural pack structure; basically they just took any wolves they could catch and threw them together, so in order to live with each other, these animals had to fight and establish ranks. Additionally, lower-ranked animals (like omegas) couldn't leave the pack and wander off. It didn't help that these animals, which have a lot of energy, weren't able to hunt or wander far distances, so in order to burn off their energy, they took it out on each other.

A normal wolf pack is basically a family, which is why they're so affectionate towards each other.
Raising a dog like raising a child is not too far fetched, you need to raise both in consequent, but loving ways to be successful in your job as guardian/teacher/parent. The only real difference I can see is that you can simply explain your child why doing this or that may be wrong or benificial, while you have to show your pet that it's better to follow your guide and NOT run after the rabbit on the field next to the autobahn...
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Re: The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

Post by martinbernstein » Fri Aug 17, 2012 2:40 am

I'm a huge fan of Cesar Milan. He gets a bad rap because his tv show is a TV SHOW. Do Americans want to spend their television time watching a balanced How-To show with methods to train an average lab or golden retriever? No. That's what eHow.com is for. People wanna watch how manly man Milan is gonna set incompetent dog owner x, y and z strait and teach them how to fix their EXTREME dog issues. The formula for shows on NatGeo, Discovery, History Channel, A&E, etc. is this:

Expert + Innovative methods + Extreme situations = High Ratings

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Re: The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

Post by Tatzel » Fri Aug 17, 2012 3:29 am

martinbernstein wrote:Expert + Innovative methods + Extreme situations = High Ratings
Sorry to say that, but neither is Cesar an expert, nor are his methods innovative. Fear and imitation based dog training is neither new nor ground breaking (and not very effective), has been around for many, many years, and he's self-taught at best. On top of that he doesn't accept critique and brushes off any actual studies on dogs and dog psychology as "opinions" which (obviously) differ from his.

His way of dog training seems to be primitive.
I must admit though that I haven't read his books, but looked at reviews (good and bad), and appearently he seems to talk mostly about himself in his books and how he took care of superstar's XYZ dog and how his life went, the only advice he seems to ever give is "be calm and collected around your dog".
I saw enough of him on his show, and I simply can't approve of someone as dog trainer or dog behaviourits if they work with choke chains, kicks and general violence.

Of course, you're free to like whoever you want, but please don't say he's an expert, he's anything but that.
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Re: The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

Post by martinbernstein » Fri Aug 17, 2012 3:46 am

He's an expert.

He's an expert at what he does, which is rehabilitate messed up dogs and show moron dog owners how to be less moronic. He doesn't claim to be a dog trainer. If you watch his shows expecting to learn how to train your average, fairly well behaved dog, then you will fail. However, if you watch his show expecting to be entertained, irked, annoyed or inspired, chances are you will.

Read his books. I have. They are entertaining. I like the guy and I like what he does, but i don't use most of his methods. Two reasons for that- A) I don't have messed up dogs. B) Unlike 99% of his clients on the show, I don't live in the suburbs, I don't leave my dogs alone for 11 hours a day, and I don't keep them indoors or in a tiny yard all day. So most of his methods do not apply to my life style.

But I still appreciate him and his show for what they are.

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Re: The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

Post by Tatzel » Fri Aug 17, 2012 3:59 am

martinbernstein wrote:He's an expert.

He's an expert at what he does, which is rehabilitate messed up dogs and show moron dog owners how to be less moronic.
I'll still say he's not an expert. And at least from most of the dogs which were on show I know that a lot were either given away or euthanized later, so his rehabilitation did nothing at all (it probably made the dogs even worse).
Secondly, most of the dog owners on TV weren't moronic, most simply were inconsequent, gave their dogs no rules and/or boundaries and/or simply didn't know any better. I wouldn't call that moronic.
martinbernstein wrote: Read his books. I have. They are entertaining.
I won't, for two reasons; 1.) reading his books would mean I would have to buy them, thus meaning I would have to support him financially which I don't want to do and 2.) I already know that his books have nothing to offer for me. I'd rather buy another book written by Sophia Yin.
martinbernstein wrote: But I still appreciate him and his show for what they are.
The only thing I could appreciate him for would be him trying to lift the pitbull banning laws, but he's simply one of many who try to do that and doesn't do anything outstanding there.
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Re: The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

Post by martinbernstein » Fri Aug 17, 2012 4:22 am

Tatzel wrote: "I already know that his books have nothing to offer for me."

Eh... Ok. Sounds like you've made up your mind about it then. No use debating about it when you aren't even willing to broaden your mind on the subject.

We'll have to agree to disagree.

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Re: The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

Post by Taz » Fri Aug 17, 2012 9:43 am

I think anyone who finds his tv training(and I use that term lightly)methods acceptable, needs to spend at least 1 day beeing subjected to them, whilst being communicated with in a language they don't understand.

They might get it then.
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Re: The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

Post by Tatzel » Fri Aug 17, 2012 10:25 am

martinbernstein wrote:Eh... Ok. Sounds like you've made up your mind about it then.
I have, but this has little do to with not wanting to broaden my horizont. Why would I want to 'educate' myself on a subject where I know there is nothing to learn from? If I would want to learn about geographics, I wouldn't look into something which says that the world is a disc. Maybe this is a very abstract comparison, but it's pretty much spot on. Millan advocated dominance theory and methods which are inhumane and outdated, and all disproven by more recent studies.

As someone else stated on the subject of Cesar Millan;
"To be clear, I am quite biased on this subject. Just as a nutritionist would not write an article equally weighing the pros and cons of junk food, I am not compelled or obligated to present a balanced view of the show. I have, however, presented a factual argument.

The show gives an inaccurate representation of dog behavior that ignores everything we know about animal behavior today."

I don't know why the show was ever aired in the first place. All it does is abuse animals in the name of dog training, so I see why Cesar has a bad rep for the show, and he has so deservingly and rightfully. I really don't think there is any room for discussion.

Of course you're entitled to your opinion, but I'd have to ignore a whole bunch of hard facts to agree with you or anyone else who defends Millan or claims he's an expert, dog trainer or does the dogs (or their people) any good. And I'm always sorry to see when genuine dog lovers just fail to see why he's bad at what he's doing, even when presented with all the facts (and there are more than enough in this thread, really).
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Re: The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

Post by martinbernstein » Fri Aug 17, 2012 2:22 pm

Ok Tatzel, we're going around in circles here. Like i said before, we'll have to agree to disagree.

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Re: The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

Post by Czertice » Fri Aug 17, 2012 2:35 pm

I read Terrierman's defense of Millan's show and other popular dog training people and their methods (http://terriermandotcom.blogspot.cz/201 ... re-no.html) and watched a couple more episodes of Millan's show. Aside from the fact that it is highly entertaining (both the show and Terrierman's blog), I have to agree that what repeats in most of the cases again and again is
  • Not enough ACTIVE one-on-one time with the owner (including real exercise and long walks);
  • No consistency, and;
  • A confusion, by the owner, that the dog is a child.
He often has to teach the owners to stay calm and to clearly communicate with their dog. All of this is something every pet owner should know and I think it is good that people are taught these basics thanks to the show.
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Re: The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

Post by Tatzel » Fri Aug 17, 2012 3:08 pm

Czertice wrote:I read Terrierman's defense of Millan's show and other popular dog training people and their methods (http://terriermandotcom.blogspot.cz/201 ... re-no.html) and watched a couple more episodes of Millan's show. Aside from the fact that it is highly entertaining (both the show and Terrierman's blog), I have to agree that what repeats in most of the cases again and again is
  • Not enough ACTIVE one-on-one time with the owner (including real exercise and long walks);
  • No consistency, and;
  • A confusion, by the owner, that the dog is a child.
He often has to teach the owners to stay calm and to clearly communicate with their dog. All of this is something every pet owner should know and I think it is good that people are taught these basics thanks to the show.
Thanks for the link, it was a rather amusing read. He nailed down perfectly well the essence of decent dog training and took apart what to be considerate of. Most problems with dogs really seem to stem of misinterpretation by the owner, no clear communication, no consitency, no rules or boundaries and that they spoil their dogs rotten.
And yes, whatever Millan teaches is no rocket science. One can only hope though that those people who got interessted into proper dog training through him are going to branch out and find other, more humane ways of training their dogs.

What however was a can of worms for me was the "dogs correct each other too" thing - yes they do, but just because they do doesn't mean we humans should. Rather, we should outsmart our dogs (which we are more than capable off) and show them why it's better to listen to us. We are not dogs, and dogs know that we are not dogs, they're not that dumb. We can use some of their ways to communicate for ourselves, but not all are going to be good.
Speaking from personal experience, I find correction via physical force (leash-jerks, slaps, etc) to be counter-productive to the dog/human relationship and not working very well at all (at best, the dog's reaction is immediate and he gets better for the moment, but does not learn how to do better. Example; a leash jerk might keep him from jerking for the moment, but he'll run back into the leash again rather soon, not having learned the benefits of rather walking at your side instead of against the leash full force)

Also "smaller dogs are submissive to larger dogs." is a stupid generalisation in my opinion, most small dogs I've encountered are usually on top of things and not submissive at all. It rather seems like they especially feel the need to make up for their size by being the most perkiest dogs ever. Therefore size really doesn't matter at all.

Another point of critique;
"In the modern world, too many people eschew leadership. They want everyone to be equals, and they want every little thing to be talked out and negotiated, especially within the family.

What does that mean for children?

It means if you tell your teenager they need to be home by 10 pm, but move the hour to 11 pm after a half hour of argument, you are teaching your child that arguing works -- and you are sure to get a lot more of it!
"

... and where exactly is the problem with raising your kid to be a smart talker? Last time checked, people who are able to neogiate and talk their way through everything get very, very far in life.
Secondly wolves are very fair animals, they always seek balance. Trying to have a balanced relationship with your dog is not too far fetched at all, and whenever I play with Monobi, I like to roll on my back occasionally and be all "omg, you won!" - he loves it, and it certainly helped establishing a bond of trust a lot quicker. Did it damage my image as a leading figure? No. Because when dogs play with their offspring, they often do the same, too. I still hold the food, and he has to work for it and does so merrily.

"Slip a simple chain slip collar on a dog, and give a decent jerk every time the dog pulls at the end of the lead, and your dog will straighten up and be walking at your side in no time."

This never worked for our Irish Setter Barry. Even when I gave him slaps with the leash for pulling hard, jerking him back, using a choke collar, he kept on pulling (to the point where his breath was raspy and harsh). He even pulled me up hilld when being on a bike with a normal collar on him.
Maybe this works for some dogs, but I regret I've never tried working with positive reeinforcement with him, I'm sure it would have worked so much better with him.

"Will a "pure positive" training regime be a bit slower than if the owner had used a more balanced training system with a chain collar? Probably.

Will the dog be as "bomb proof" as it might be if a more balanced training method had been used? Probably not.

Will a pure positive training system fix a sheep-worrying terrier? Nope."


I've seen enough from progressive positive reeinforcement training which uses no ~*balanced training*~ (by including correction) to say that dogs with similar if not the same problems as shown on Millan's show were 'cured' off their problems in a matter of time. And all of them were 'bomb proof'. They just learned that ther eis no need for agression because other dogs/people/whatever mean no threat, but actually treats. Their emotional states were changed which imo a lot better than surpressing them with any leash jerks.

The again, not every dog is the same and there migth be dogs who respond better to punishment based training, but I yet have to encounter such a dog.

Yeah sorry, Im just a against-punishment-based-training hippie. :lol:
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Re: The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

Post by Tiantai » Fri Aug 17, 2012 4:15 pm

:lol:
I like the part where they mentioned the refrigerator door considering that I've dealt with an Alusky whom I've caught raiding the fridge in our younger days. Some dogs will still do it even when you try to assert the "I own this fridge" rule while you're gone. I'd rather install a lock on it instead of trying the use Millan's "I'm alpha and this is mine" method! ;)
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Re: The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

Post by Czertice » Fri Aug 17, 2012 4:43 pm

Tatzel wrote:Thanks for the link, it was a rather amusing read. He nailed down perfectly well the essence of decent dog training and took apart what to be considerate of. Most problems with dogs really seem to stem of misinterpretation by the owner, no clear communication, no consitency, no rules or boundaries and that they spoil their dogs rotten.
And yes, whatever Millan teaches is no rocket science. One can only hope though that those people who got interessted into proper dog training through him are going to branch out and find other, more humane ways of training their dogs.

What however was a can of worms for me was the "dogs correct each other too" thing - yes they do, but just because they do doesn't mean we humans should. Rather, we should outsmart our dogs (which we are more than capable off) and show them why it's better to listen to us. We are not dogs, and dogs know that we are not dogs, they're not that dumb. We can use some of their ways to communicate for ourselves, but not all are going to be good.
Speaking from personal experience, I find correction via physical force (leash-jerks, slaps, etc) to be counter-productive to the dog/human relationship and not working very well at all (at best, the dog's reaction is immediate and he gets better for the moment, but does not learn how to do better. Example; a leash jerk might keep him from jerking for the moment, but he'll run back into the leash again rather soon, not having learned the benefits of rather walking at your side instead of against the leash full force)

Also "smaller dogs are submissive to larger dogs." is a stupid generalisation in my opinion, most small dogs I've encountered are usually on top of things and not submissive at all. It rather seems like they especially feel the need to make up for their size by being the most perkiest dogs ever. Therefore size really doesn't matter at all.

Yes, often it is the small dogs who refuse to accept the reality of their full fifteen centimeters of height:) Luckily Raksha is tolerant to their attacks on her as she know they cannot really harm her. Submission? I know a terrier who does not have this word in his vocabulary.

Another point of critique;
"In the modern world, too many people eschew leadership. They want everyone to be equals, and they want every little thing to be talked out and negotiated, especially within the family.

What does that mean for children?

It means if you tell your teenager they need to be home by 10 pm, but move the hour to 11 pm after a half hour of argument, you are teaching your child that arguing works -- and you are sure to get a lot more of it!
"

... and where exactly is the problem with raising your kid to be a smart talker? Last time checked, people who are able to neogiate and talk their way through everything get very, very far in life.

Indeed, if you like bratty dogs, disregarding all training tips is the right way to go:] I personally like that Raksha does not negotiate my commands. She has two recall commands though, one is imperative always to be obeyed immediately, the second one is more of a suggestion, which I use when I would like her to come if she would, but there's no hurry;]

To the balance, equality stuff - I can see how the "polite requests, purely positive, treats-galore democracy" does not work for our dog when with our neighbours. They sometimes let Raksha guard their garden too, and are not dog-people. Also they are very kind, soft, polite people, the kind which never raises their voice. Raksha loves them immensely, but does not obey them very much:] They are getting more assured and their commands actually sound more like commands than supplicant pleas now, so not everything is lost:] Also the are learning how to use Raksha's love of treats efficiently.


Secondly wolves are very fair animals, they always seek balance. Trying to have a balanced relationship with your dog is not too far fetched at all, and whenever I play with Monobi, I like to roll on my back occasionally and be all "omg, you won!" - he loves it, and it certainly helped establishing a bond of trust a lot quicker. Did it damage my image as a leading figure? No. Because when dogs play with their offspring, they often do the same, too. I still hold the food, and he has to work for it and does so merrily.

"Slip a simple chain slip collar on a dog, and give a decent jerk every time the dog pulls at the end of the lead, and your dog will straighten up and be walking at your side in no time."

This never worked for our Irish Setter Barry. Even when I gave him slaps with the leash for pulling hard, jerking him back, using a choke collar, he kept on pulling (to the point where his breath was raspy and harsh). He even pulled me up hilld when being on a bike with a normal collar on him.
Maybe this works for some dogs, but I regret I've never tried working with positive reeinforcement with him, I'm sure it would have worked so much better with him.

Yes, I often hear about the wrongness of leash jerking. I was taught to do that and it works for me, but I am curious about a different approach. Do you know of a web page, where it would be explained and described how it is to be done?

"Will a "pure positive" training regime be a bit slower than if the owner had used a more balanced training system with a chain collar? Probably.

Will the dog be as "bomb proof" as it might be if a more balanced training method had been used? Probably not.

Will a pure positive training system fix a sheep-worrying terrier? Nope."


I've seen enough from progressive positive reeinforcement training which uses no ~*balanced training*~ (by including correction) to say that dogs with similar if not the same problems as shown on Millan's show were 'cured' off their problems in a matter of time. And all of them were 'bomb proof'. They just learned that ther eis no need for agression because other dogs/people/whatever mean no threat, but actually treats. Their emotional states were changed which imo a lot better than surpressing them with any leash jerks.

The again, not every dog is the same and there migth be dogs who respond better to punishment based training, but I yet have to encounter such a dog.

Yeah sorry, Im just a against-punishment-based-training hippie. :lol:
Haha, yes, I do get that impression from you;]
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Re: The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

Post by Czertice » Fri Aug 17, 2012 4:46 pm

Tiantai wrote::lol:
I like the part where they mentioned the refrigerator door considering that I've dealt with an Alusky whom I've caught raiding the fridge in our younger days. Some dogs will still do it even when you try to assert the "I own this fridge" rule while you're gone. I'd rather install a lock on it instead of trying the use Millan's "I'm alpha and this is mine" method! ;)
Indeed, I hear that some people have to put locks on their fridges, despite having obedient dogs: because all rules are null when people are not around:)
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Re: The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

Post by Tatzel » Fri Aug 17, 2012 5:47 pm

Oh yeah I want to share one last thing regarding Millan, or moreso regarding fans and what they usually sling around when defending him and his methods;
http://www.4pawsu.com/cesarfans.htm
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Re: The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

Post by TerriHolt » Tue Aug 21, 2012 2:45 am

Tatzel wrote:Oh yeah I want to share one last thing regarding Millan, or moreso regarding fans and what they usually sling around when defending him and his methods;
http://www.4pawsu.com/cesarfans.htm
Amusing :D

Well, if you are for punishment based training or reward based training... He doesn't get to the root cause of the dogs problem (or he didn't when i watched him religiously a few years a go)... It could be fear being the cause for aggression then he scares the poor dog some more?
But not getting to the root of the problem and teaching your dog it is bad to growl (warn) or snap (dogs way of saying back off or else), the dog will learn to not do this... This is a dangerous dog, not the dogs that bark or snap or even nip... But the ones that are taught to not give warning, taught to not show they are upset...
Besides his cruel methods (as this is besides the point), he is going to get someone hurt... Maybe a child? I don't see how any good can come of correcting your dog for growling. You have to think that dogs can not talk human words but they do talk doggy words that come off as aggression to some people, they they get told "no!" for 'talking' and trying to communicate with their human (or the person who is their cause for concern and they want nothing more then for them to "go away").

I just think that methods that find out why the dog is upset rather than tell them off for it is a better and safer way to go.
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Re: The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

Post by arianwenarie » Tue Aug 21, 2012 3:08 am

I do correct my dog when she starts growling at guests when she's not supposed to...but it's always a verbal. There are times when a verbal doesn't work, so then I just force her out of the social circle by making her leave the room. :P She usually understands that she's not allowed to growl at guests that I said were OK to enter the house after I make her leave 2-4 times. lol.

Terri, I absolutely agree with what you said - a dog that is taught not to give audible warnings is, indeed, a dangerous dog. Milan's methods are mainly flooding - forcing a dog to shut down and give up. Speaking in an extreme case, it could lead to detachment syndrome - meaning the dog doesn't feel a need to make any attachment (positive or negative) to humans.

I have met a dog with detachment syndrome through a friend who fostered and rehabilitated a mild case...it took her nearly 3 years!! I had met the Tyra towards the late end when she had learned to trust humans again and I'm happy to report that Tyra did find a loving forever home thanks to the unrelenting efforts of her foster mom. The trainer I intern with has also seen other dogs with detachment syndrome - they are deemed dangerous dogs if their temperament is slightly more off the norm (fear case with detachment syndrome and/or confident case with detachment syndrome). I have been told it takes at least 1-2 years to re-gain trust and then, depending on the dog, it can take another couple years for them to overcome their other behavioral problems. Even then, the dog may revert if it's transitioned into a new home too fast....tricky thing, detachment syndrome, and very nasty "disease". :(

Anyway, any dog that is pushed too far will do one of two things: fight or flight. When flight isn't an option (which is most often the case with the dogs seen in Milan's show), then instinct dictates the dog MUST fight. When Milan does the classic choke hold and chokes out the dog, then the dog learns that fighting is also not an option as the human has just demonstrated they have the power to take their life away. Survival instinct kicks in a little more and the dog shuts down, upon which Milan jumps in and calls it "submissive state" from "dominating state" (aka the dog in 'fight' instinct takeover).

Ultimately, I think the problem why Milan's methods aren't long-term solutions is because his methods are still human-dog communication; not dog-dog communication. The dog doesn't understand why nor what Milan is doing because a dog wouldn't correct another dog like this..very rarely (if ever) will a dog try to kill another dog when attempting to correct their unwanted behaviors. A true alpha is confident in their position as leader - they have no need to resort to physical aggression. Those that often try to "assert their dominance" in a pack is actually a gamma - the one who wants to move up in the ranks (i.e. Milan - that's what dogs think he is with his physical "corrections"). Everything is quick and done - unwarranted behavior from a pack member, alpha steps in, corrects and done. All within seconds. If two dogs are getting riled up in play, a calm confident pack member will just walk in between disrupting the two dogs and they separate. No physical corrections other than literally using his/her body to move the two aside, no eye contact, no verbals -- I did this often when working in the play groups in the dog daycare I used to work at. Saved us from many possible scuffles. :P

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Re: The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

Post by Tiantai » Tue Aug 21, 2012 5:32 am

I don't know if I'm using the right comparison but the way Milan shuts up a dog for barking (forcing them to the ground) suddenly to me feels like witnessing some bad parent forcing a kid (having some kind of symptom that making it feel pain) complaining to his parent that he/she doesn't feel well and is frustrated cuz it's hurting (whether physical or emotional) him/her to shut up and stop making noise.

It's a form of abuse and ties in with promoting bad ownership or bad parenting. I dare say that many times there are dogs who suffer from some unknown emotional illnesses and the vet probably couldn't find out about it and says that there's nothing wrong and the dog is barking and growling and being a bother because it wants a solution to the problem. Dogs are not wolves and some breeds cannot endure certain pain whether it be emotional or physical and then we have this lunatic who just chalks "dominance" and makes the dog learn to convert into helpless mode. While the dog may seem like it's improving in behaviour, the source of its problem that caused it to react so ferociously in the first place might just be eating it away inside out. I was a huge supporter of Milan in the past but after thinking back at the way he rehabilitates the dogs and how I screwed up on some few occasions in the past trying to fix certain problems such as Buddy's climbing all over the place habits by picking him up and shaking him after watching how Milan did it, I hated it! I love Buddy and he wasn't a bad dog to begin with and to pick him up and horrify him like that is something I will never forgive myself for doing (thank you Cesar, you're a GREAT teacher!). Thankfully I've never attempted the ground force on Snoopy or he would have punished me with a "hit"! Some of Milan teaching are fine and I like how he is capable of reading energy level and I do enjoy listening to a few of his philosophy such as how he preaches the idea that here is no such thing as a "born evil" dog but watching his methods now, I can't believe I was foolish enough to believe all that crap! I also support his attempts to convince governments worldwide to drop the Pitbull ban. So on a balance, Milan is not a pure evil person, I do like some of what he does, just not the way he fixes a dog!
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Re: The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

Post by jraloff » Fri Sep 28, 2012 6:46 pm

Really great article, Debbie!

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Re: The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

Post by cthrash » Mon Nov 19, 2012 6:05 am

great article very informative. I completely agree that not all aspects of a canines life are related to dominance/submission but it certainly is a very important aspect in their lives. also on the topic of ceasar milan do i agree with him on everything?...no but overall he is an amazing trainer. i train dogs with another trainer who actually worked under ceasar himself. i use many of his methods myself and have found great success with them. however i only use his forceful dominance methods when a dog challenges me or bites me after a reprimand, occasionally they do need to me reminded of who is boss. but that does not mean you have to "bully"them into submission 24/7. i have also worked hands on with a pack of timber wolves. obviously training a wolf and training a dog are two very different challenges. when around an entire pack of wolves it is a potentially life or death situation and it is crucial that each and every member of the pack sees you as the leader and would not even think of challenging you. making sure to avoid those situations once in a while it does require using the "alpha roll" however we would ask the wolves to do it with the command "down".if they do not listen to the command then we would gently roll them on their side, not completely upside down exposing their stomach (as this would cause them to be extremely afraid.) also if you notice cesar does not flip them on their backs either he has them lie flat on their sides. i believe training any canine requires 80% positive reinforcement 20% discipline for disobedience. give them several chances to succeed before you reprimand them for not obeying

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Re: The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

Post by TerriHolt » Mon Nov 19, 2012 7:16 am

Firstly... Hi, and welcome :D (you might want to clickity here to tell more about yourself :D )
cthrash wrote: i believe training any canine requires 80% positive reinforcement 20% discipline for disobedience.
My boy has challenged me and disobeyed me more times than i care to count... more in his early years than now but, it's always been 100% positive reinforcement... Discipline to the millan degree would scar him for life and he wold probably react fearful (the way millans dogs do around him on some episodes). I want my dog to love me, respect me, and do things i ask because he wants to, not because he fear's me... (i'm not trying to start the debate war hear, just saying that it doesn't always requires 80% positive reinforcement 20% discipline).


I also hope you don't mind me asking but, why in the world would anyone want to train a wolf pack? Or is it common practice to doggyfy captive wolves?
I've never looked up on captive wolves because i'm totally against that (captive wild anythings really unless its a nature preserve where they live no different to wild animals)... and against training them like you'd train a dog too so i hope i don't offend (and it's really early morning).
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There’s a battle between two wolves inside us all.
One is Evil. It’s anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies and ego.
The other is Good. It’s joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness and truth.

The wolf that wins? The one you feed!

~ Cherokee Proverb

Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity... I'm not sure about the former.

~ Albert Einstein

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Re: The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

Post by cthrash » Mon Nov 19, 2012 8:09 pm

don't worry i'm not offended everyone has their own training methods that work for them i am just saying what works for me. but think about this it would take much longer to house-train a puppy if you didn't show them their accident and firmly say"no" every time they slipped up. than just rewarding them every time they go outside. combining both together works best for me. on the topic of a trained wolf pack i am not sure how many exist in the world probably not many. the pack i worked with was used as animal ambassadors to convey the plight of the wolf in the wild to our parks visitors. the public was allowed to interact with the sub-adults and pups not the adults. but seeing as they are to be on leash around strangers they need to be well trained. and trust me if our discipline methods had the effect you stated "scarring them for life" then the wolves would have been terrified to be around strangers whereas in reality it was the total opposite it was the wolves favorite part of the day they would get so excited tails wagging giving strangers they've never met kisses. we were in no means trying to "doggyfy" them they are wild animals and always will be and that is how they were treated. but because they were trained they were allowed many more freedoms than an untrained wolf pack would get. instead of spending their entire lives inside a cage they got to go on daily walks with our trainers and loved every minute of it. they would even go in the car! and they had a very large natural enclosure outside where they would happily stay year round. on the topic of keeping wild animals in captivity. i have gone back and forth with people on this matter for many years. at our facility we had mainly big cats and mainly tigers. for some reason people think that because the tiger is so beautiful and majestic it is somehow different than other wild animals and therefore it is even more wrong for them to be kept in captivity. my first and foremost argument is that if tigers do not have a healthy breeding population in captivity than there is no hope for the tiger. scientists estimate that they will be extinct in the wild within the next ten years. our goal was to maintain healthy breeding bloodlines in captivity while also using our animals as ambassadors to allow the public to interact hands on with a baby tiger was a life changing experience for most of our guests. it gave them a personal connection with the animal, something they can look back on and always cherish and hopefully along the way they took away our message of conservation. reduse, re-use,renew. and they now have a reason to fight for the tigers survival in the wild. also living in captivity for a tiger is a dream they would've done nothing but eat sleep and play all day if we had let them. but because we raised them since they were little cubs they were friendly towards people and therefore had a much more enriching life. going for walks each day experiencing new sight sounds and smells. we would walk all our animals from the leopards cheetahs lions full grown tigers and even our 900+lb liger and they all loved every minute.i also have worked in a zoo where two tigers were allowed no hands on interaction with anyone and they were totally lethargic and miserable. i would love to further hear your thoughts on these matters.

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Re: The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

Post by TerriHolt » Tue Nov 20, 2012 1:48 am

cthrash wrote:don't worry i'm not offended
Oh good, i have this thing of saying things the wrong way usually :D
cthrash wrote:it would take much longer to house-train a puppy if you didn't show them their accident and firmly say"no" every time they slipped up. than just rewarding them every time they go outside.
I don't think i ever showed him it :? I ignored it totally, he didn't even see me clean it up... I rewarded him if i got him outside in time and while i was at home, he was more or less potty trained within a week and half... He also never did anything on a night from the very first night, he always told me before i'd had chance to teach him that bit :D (beams with pride).
cthrash wrote: the pack i worked with was used as animal ambassadors to convey the plight of the wolf in the wild to our parks visitors. the public was allowed to interact with the sub-adults and pups not the adults. but seeing as they are to be on leash around strangers they need to be well trained.
Must be nice for the visitors and great for wild wolves to have a positive image portrayed...
cthrash wrote: for some reason people think that because the tiger is so beautiful and majestic it is somehow different than other wild animals and therefore it is even more wrong for them to be kept in captivity.
Nope, it's not just tigers for me... All wild animals... Esp Orcas, Dolphins etc at sea world... Sea world is the worst... At least animals in zoo's have more room and freedom.
cthrash wrote:my first and foremost argument is that if tigers do not have a healthy breeding population in captivity than there is no hope for the tiger. scientists estimate that they will be extinct in the wild within the next ten years. our goal was to maintain healthy breeding bloodlines in captivity
Which is why i think it's a good idea for wild life preserves that is exactly the same as where they would originally live with no cages or restrictions (except the obvious boundaries) and just openness (yep, i'm the kind of mum who makes their kids cry because i won't take them to a zoo or sea-life centers :oops: )... I do believe i saw that there has recently been a rare white lion cub been born than are extinct in the wild...
It would be tragic for them to go the same way as the Tasmanian tiger because people feel the need to kill things...
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There’s a battle between two wolves inside us all.
One is Evil. It’s anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies and ego.
The other is Good. It’s joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness and truth.

The wolf that wins? The one you feed!

~ Cherokee Proverb

Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity... I'm not sure about the former.

~ Albert Einstein

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