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Let's discuss the role of dominance in the social hierarchy & training of domestic and wild canine.
  • BradA1878BradA1878
    Posts: 2242
    For those of you who do not know who I am, my name is Brad Anderson, I am the owner of the Shiba Inu forum and the Nihon Ken forum.

    My wife and I have imported and/or raised several of the native Japanese breeds, we have lived with Shiba Inu, Kai Ken, Shikoku Ken, and Akita Inu. We are very active in the preservation of the Kai Ken and Shikoku Ken in North America. We've visited Japan where we were able to meet Shiba Inu, Kai Ken, Shikoku Ken, Hokkaido Ken, and Kishu Ken breeders and preservationists. We have a passion for these breeds and for dogs in general.

    On our ranch we also have several Livestock Guardians and have owned other molosser-type breeds that we use for protection from the wild things that we share our remote location with.

    When I first got into dogs I subscribed to the Alpha/Dominance training/behavioral model, but as my knowledge grew I have moved further and further away from that model. So, I have been on both sides of the argument. In this thread I wanted to share some of the information I have aggregated over the many years of my dogdom experiences.

    First, before I launch into the topic, I want to mention that this thread is meant to be a discussion. I would like for everyone to do their best to not become emotional - this is not a religious debate - this is simply an intellectual discussion on a "hot topic" in the (dog) behavior community.

    I invite you to share your personal experiences, ask questions, and to provide factual data. If you do provide factual data please also provide a source for that data, as that will help to further educate the discussion's participants. If you share personal experiences or ideas, please understand that they might be questioned and be prepared to discuss them without getting defensive.

    This is a friendly forum, please lets all work to keep it that way.


    The current, and most accepted, idea in the behavioral community is that domestic dogs do not form a rigid dominance-based social hierarchy.

    Also, the most recent studies of wild wolves have lead most wolf researches to stop using the terms "alpha" and "dominance" when referring to the wolves social structure and behavior - this is primarily because they have found that a wolf "pack" is actually made up of a "mom & dad" (a "nuclear family unit") and their progeny (aka a family). Only the "mom & dad" breed, the offspring stay around until they are old enough to look for a mate - then they leave the current pack to join another pack or create their own pack. Some adults never leave - just like some people never find a spouse.

    So, the issue with using the terms "alpha" and "dominance", or imply domestic dogs live in a "pack", when referring to dog behavior and canine social interaction is that it implies dogs adhere to a rigid social structure - which, per the latest ideas (by latest I mean since the 1980s), is incorrect and misleading.

    Here is a study on domestic canine social structure:

    There are some really good articles out there on this subject too...

    David Mech, who was one of the main contributors to the early alpha/dominance concepts, which were born in the 1940s, now admits that the use of "Alpha" and "Dominance", when describing how wild wolves fight within a pack to gain "dominance" is "outmoded" (to use his exact term)...

    "Schenkel’s Classic Wolf Behavior Study Available in English

    Below you can download a pdf version of Schenkel’s 1947 “Expressions Studies on Wolves.” This is the study that gave rise to the now outmoded notion of alpha wolves. That concept was based on the old idea that wolves fight within a pack to gain dominance and that the winner is the “alpha” wolf. Today we understand that most wolf packs consist of a pair of adults called “parents” or “breeders,” (not “alphas”), and their offspring."


    Here is Mech's recent ideas on "Alpha Status, Dominance, and Division of Labor in Wolf Packs"...

    "Labeling a high-ranking wolf alpha emphasizes its rank in a dominance hierarchy. However, in natural wolf packs, the alpha male or female are merely the breeding animals, the parents of the pack, and dominance contests with other wolves are rare, if they exist at all. During my 13 summers observing the Ellesmere Island pack, I saw none.

    Thus, calling a wolf an alpha is usually no more appropriate than referring to a human parent or a doe deer as an alpha. Any parent is dominant to its young offspring, so "alpha" adds no information. Why not refer to an alpha female as the female parent, the breeding female, the matriarch, or simply the mother? Such a designation emphasizes not the animal's dominant status, which is trivial information, but its role as pack progenitor, which is critical information."


    But Mech is talking about wolves, we are talking about domestic canine (which are very different from each other) and in domestic canine, and their interaction with each other (and humans), the idea of a dominance hierarchy has been debunked by most of the modern day behaviorist (see links above).

    So, in summary, the use of the term "dominance" when applied (or referring) to any part of domestic canine interaction is incorrect - no matter how it is used (as a descriptor or to imply social structure).

    For more information on the this topic you can always turn to the APDT, which is an organization that was started with one of its primary focuses to combat the use of the dominance/alpha concepts.

  • BradA1878BradA1878
    Posts: 2242
    "Let's Just Be Humans Training Dogs" -by Dr. Ian Dunbar

    "Dogs are not wolves and dog behavior is not the same as wolf behavior. In fact, the most striking difference between dog and wolf behavior is their interaction with people. Wolves have been naturally selected to grow up to be wary of people, whereas dogs have been artificially selected for their ease of socialization towards people. Consequently, it is hardly sound to use wolf behavior as a template for dog training."

    "To cavalierly and simplistically summarize considerably complicated canid social behavior as “a dominance hierarchy with an alpha dog dictator”, is an insult to both dogs and wolves, and, advertises a complete misunderstanding of their most sophisticated social structure. Whereas misunderstandings are understandable and excusable, we have to stop at people imposing the weirdness of their misunderstandings upon others. To extrapolate a misunderstanding of wolf and dog behavior to dog training by citing slippery, phantom concepts of “dominance” and “alpha” as excuses to physically bully dogs is both unfounded and quite distasteful."


    "The Macho Myth" -Dr. Ian Dunbar

    "The social structure of domestic dogs is often simplistically described in terms of a linear dominance hierarchy, in which the topdog, or “alpha animal”, is dominant over all lower ranking animals, the second ranking dog is subordinate to the topdog but dominant over all others, and so on down to the lowest dog on the totem pole. Moreover, it is popularly believed that rank is established and maintained by physical strength and dominant behavior, that the more dominant (i.e., higher ranking) dogs are more aggressive and that the most dominant dog is the most aggressive. Hence, dogs that frequently threaten, growl, fight and bite are often assumed to be “alpha” animals. The majority of the above assumptions are quite awry. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Such a simplistic view of a most sophisticated social structure is an utter insult to dogs but more disturbing, when cavalierly extrapolated to dog training and the dog-human relationship, such bizarre notions are ineffective, counterproductive, potentially dangerous and quite inhumane."

    Post edited by BradA1878 at 2010-12-17 22:42:23
  • BradA1878BradA1878
    Posts: 2242
    This is a good read:
    - by Stanley Coren, Ph.D.

    Of course wolves are not dogs, so let's look at a recent (2010) piece of research by Roberto Bonanni of the University of Parma and his associates. They looked at free-ranging packs of dogs in Italy and found that leadership was a very fluid thing. For example, in one pack, which had 27 members, there were 6 dogs that habitually took turns leading the pack, but at least half of the adult dogs were leaders, at least some of the time. The dogs that were usually found leading the pack tended to be the older, more experienced dogs, but not necessarily the most dominant. The pack seems to allow leadership to dogs, who at particular times seem to be most likely to contribute to the welfare of the pack through knowledge that can access the resources they require.
    -Stanley Coren, Ph.D.

    Perhaps it is time to revise our dog training and obedience concepts to something along the ideas proposed by advocates of Positive Training. In that view, controlling the dog's behavior is more a matter of controlling the things that a dog needs and wants, such as food and social interaction, rather than applying force to achieve what the science suggests is an unnatural dominance over the dog. If you manage and dispense important resources, the dog will respond to you out of self interest. So this approach to behavior modification has the same effect as forcefully imposed dominance in controlling the dog's behavior. However, instead of dominance based on physical power and threats it is more similar to establishing status. One can agree to respond to controls imposed by someone of higher status, but this is done, not out of fear, but out of respect and in anticipation of the rewards that one can expect by doing so.
    -Stanley Coren, Ph.D.

  • BradA1878BradA1878
    Posts: 2242
    In regards to this concept of a "balanced dog"...

    "Purely Positive?" "Balanced?" Another Perspective by Nicole Wilde

    "It keeps cropping up on training discussion boards. I’ve heard the term used proudly, and I’ve also heard it slung at other trainers as a slur. I’ve even seen it associated with my own name on blogs—and not ones that were written by me. Who knew I was a “purely positive” trainer? I sure didn’t. Besides, what exactly does “purely positive” mean in the real world?

    Any trainer who cares about dogs and has a modicum of compassion and intelligence doesn’t want to hurt dogs in the name of training. A choice of training tools exists, and a wide range of philosophies encompassing the use of those tools expands the arena even further. One person’s definition of purely positive might be: “No corrections are ever used.” Okay, but so we’re on the same page, what constitutes a correction? Is a verbal “no” a correction? How about saying, “eh-eh”—or is that somehow different? What about a stern look? Walking away as though disgusted? If so, call the training police and lock me away, because I’ve certainly done all of those things. My guess is that most trainers have, and the ones who haven’t are few and far between. I also believe that the trainers who never punish a dog by any definition of the term (including consequences such as a dog not getting to go for a walk if he doesn’t sit for the door to open, etc.), are more of a caricature painted by those who don’t care for what they perceive to be permissive training methods, than reality.

    Then we have the “balanced” training camp. To my understanding, this term is meant to denote a trainer who uses both rewards and fair corrections. Of course, the actual interpretation of what constitutes a “reward” or a “fair correction” varies depending on the trainer. But whether the training philosophy is “positive” or “balanced,” in a way it’s like religion—you’ve got those followers who fall in the middle of the spectrum, and then the extremists, who are typically not a very good representation of the group as a whole. Someone who is helicoptering a dog, for example, is not a typical representative of the balanced trainer group, any more so than someone who just “slings cookies” at a dog in the hopes that behavior will improve is a good example of a positive trainer.

    I’ve always liked the “LIMA” philosophy—least invasive, minimally aversive. Of course, what something even “minimally aversive” consists of and how it’s applied depends on a trainer’s skill and ethics. We each have a place we draw the line as to tools and techniques we’re willing to use. But I have more respect for the trainer—regardless of training philosophy, tools or techniques—who can have a civil conversation with another trainer regardless of their differences, than anyone on either side of the fence with a holier than thou or condemning attitude. I’ve never made a secret of that fact that I prefer not to use e-collars or certain types of equipment, and yet I know people who train with them, who use them with precision and skill, and only in very specific situations. I don’t consider these people fiends—in fact, some are friends. I like to think we’ve learned a lot from each other by listening instead of judging.

    Of all the tools in a dog trainer’s toolbox, an open mind is one of the most valuable. Just because you’ve used a particular piece of equipment or technique for years doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be open to reconsidering its use. For example, early in my career I used citronella collars as a means to stop nuisance barking (behavior modification and enrichment was used as well). But after listening to others argue that the lingering unpleasant scent continues to punish the dog after the fact, instead of dismissing them as “those people who just don’t get it,” I reconsidered, and decided to discontinue its use. (And please let’s not have a long, heated discussion about citronella collars—this is just an example.) Or maybe you’ll decide to use a tool you wouldn’t have considered before. Maybe there’s an online discussion of a new type of body harness, and instead of dismissing it as some new-fangled useless piece of equipment, you process the information objectively and make an appropriate decision. Letting go of the knee jerk emotion that accompanies so many discussions of training equipment allows for civil discourse and growth.

    I only wish both sides would take the time to engage in dialogue and ask questions instead of standing on the sidelines slinging mud and assigning labels to those who aren’t firmly in their camp, especially when they’ve never had a single conversation with the target of their vitriol. It’s fine to disagree with another trainer’s methodology, and certainly we should all have standards and beliefs that govern our training practices. But if you spend all your time deriding others instead of doing something productive, guess who it really reflects on? The political bs gets just as tiring in the training arena as it does in the political one. Enough already! We may not be able to come to a consensus on a training philosophy, but surely we all care about dogs and the future of our profession. Extending each other a bit of professional courtesy and engaging in open-minded conversation would be a purely positive move in the right direction."

  • Kuro_KaiKuro_Kai
    Posts: 543
    I believe people are using simplistic terms to describe a complex social interaction and everyone's place in it (theirs and the dog) rather than try to explain something they can't describe. Not without writing a very disjointed and confusing set of encyclopedias.

    There is a social order. It's not as simple or cut & dried as the terms "Alpha" and "Dominance" imply. It's extremely fluid and adapting if it is a successful one. A lot is lost in the attempt to translate what they see, do and the results into a short post or conversation. But saying there is no such thing as an order is unrealistic.
  • McYogiMcYogi
    Posts: 518
    Kudos to Brad for taking the time to organize all that information in such an easy-to-understand fashion. Thanks buddy :)

    No comment on this issue otherwise, as I fall into the "balanced" group. I've also never been surprised when people look at the same information I do and draw the oppposite conclusion, for better or for worse.

  • lindsaytlindsayt
    Posts: 4786
    Thank you Brad, it's helpful to have so much info.
    "Common sense isn't so common"
    photo c5d87957-61b6-48af-a440-4187cbfc861b_zps88ccdf88.jpg
  • kwyldkwyld
    Posts: 506
    This information is priceless, thank you very much for posting it!
  • KBBD83KBBD83
    Posts: 249
    I read the Dr. Ian Dunbar one yesterday. :) Very nice post! You are the jam!
  • BradA1878BradA1878
    Posts: 2242
    Kuro_Kai - I agree with you. The issue is that not every group of dog follows one specific social structure and so it is wrong to blindly follow one specific model as it cannot apply to every dog's social structure.
  • RorsRors
    Posts: 165
    Thank you Brad for finding the words I meant for other threads.

    Its time you let the judgmental know how I trained my perfectly non-fearing well adjusted pups. Any reference in the past tense implies a time when they weren't arthritic and could play the games described.

    I dont know why those articles shy from terms of alpha beta etc. I see their scientific definitions but to be so steadfast in their definition and associating such negative connotations I cant understand.
    I always saw those terms as the same as giving an individual in a study group a number and a possible rank not a hard faced judgment of that aggressiveness.

    So we'll talk in terms of Families.

    In my experience adolescent dogs do try to usurp their mother and father testing their boundaries.

    The only time I have had to hold my dog by the scuff and stare him down was when as three year old Akira had a go at me when I had to take a lamb shank from him. He has never snapped at me since.
    As a puppy I trained him when he could be rougher than other times - I would wear a pair of riggers gloves and he found he could be fairly rough and be a real boy but as soon as the gloves came off there was no mouthing or licking.

    We would play "catch the paws" - where I would try to tap his paws and lightly pull his fur he is a smart boy and loved this game but also knew his boundaries. He would put on a show and prance around like a paper dragon at a Chinese New Years festival - clashing jaws and all - I would occasionally test him and put my bare hand to his mouth and he would stop and allow me to pat him.
    Though not a Shiba he certainly did the Akira500, sorry its not exclusive neither is the cat like behaviour - Japanese spitz could possibly have Shiba blood in them since they have only been a recognised breed for about 80 years.

    All other training was Treat and fun training as a young puppy and like the stop/go method for leash training from adolescence on. Akira was to smart for treat or toy training - still is at 14 1/2. He would only do things if he got the treat and he makes sure he gets it by standing on your feet until you get up then running to the spot the treats are kept and looking back between me and the treats. Toy training bored him he would only chase a ball a couple of times - he liked laser pointers better and would look to see if it was on before he would look for the spot on the floor. He also can use mirrors and knows that it is himself. He uses them to spy on us when he would sneak inside after being sent out.

    He only lets you pat him when he wants - only comes back from the letterbox wee n sniff visit when he wants even when a treat is offered.
    When we could walk him at the park we would have to watch him closely - if there was another dog we would have to command him to wait while we hooked the leash on him or he would see it as an "OK" to fly across the oval to go say hello. Kiyo not far behind.

    Both our dogs would stop at the curb off lead and cross when it was "OK"

    Kiyo the female - now 14 could not be trained using any assertive techniques ie raising my voice it would make her unresponsive or in the instance of telling her to be quiet from inside when she started barking outside she would walk giving lower barks at a lower volume. In non of these circumstances did I then chase her down and make her submit in some aggressive form.Treats Hugs claps squeals and songs is what Kiyo responds to
    Kiyo always deferred to My Wife and I when it came to taking food away but if Akira tried it she could draw blood.

    With food training I found the best way in formal training to show that you have extra food to give them - take their food and made a big show about adding it to their bowl and giving it to them.

    I have even trained a friends pug (smart dogs) to stop jumping on you once you sit on the sofa in two minutes- They love attention and hugs so I sat the dog down on the lounge next to me and only patted her when she was calm and composed - prior to that my friend used to yell in its face with a full essay of explaination of do s n donts.

    I have never Dominant rolled my dogs to make a point or hit or caged/ time outed my dogs. I guess sending them outside away from us because they have been naughty does count as a form of that though. But as proof of their confidence in the Family group they would sneak in through the other dog door as stand at the door way until we said "OK". They know their boundaries and the comments by friends family and breeders justify that our common sense and adaptive training techniques work well - most of which appeared to be obvious and common sense.

    As most people that believe their dogs are family I have only ever encouraged self expression in our dogs even now Akira has learnt to put on a new show by walking into our full length bay window Drapes wrapping himself up in them and finding his way out enough that you can just see his eyes and if praise and cheering doesn't come soon enough he'll do it until he does.

    There are 20 years of training other peoples dogs 14 1/2 years of owning our own worth of stories and more years re RAW food for dogs and cats - we had a brindle Tabby x Burmese cat that was like a dog growing up.
    We have never been domineering over the lives entrusted to us and treat their stubbornness and antics as a privilege to be a part of.
    I hope this clears up any misconceptions of the lives my dogs have.
    Post edited by Rors at 2010-12-18 05:15:06
  • RorsRors
    Posts: 165
    Oh I forgot _ the lesson of the critical value of socialisation was made very clear in the differences between My Boy and Girl.

    With Akira I was fortunate to have been able to plan and take 2 wks of annual leave off when we brought him home.
    Before that the breeder had started training him and his litter mates from the first day:
    Touching them every where then as soon as they could stand they would put him in the show pose only for a second but supporting his chin and tail would say - Stand. They would do this every few hours for each pup for the first week then the periods got longer - he is still a poser today.

    Getting Akira home I took him every where with me He met 100 people in those two weeks and hung out with vaccinated friends dogs, my cat and any other animal we could get near ( that were wild - ducks birds etc) he was pretty much toilet trained in a couple of days accidents excepted. This did not stop When I get the video on You Tube you will see these are not just cute fluffy dogs - they are very much a big dog in a little body.
    The video shows how they were walked on lead to the park then off lead at the park in the pond then home off lead on the way home.

    Kiyo was a different story - six months later we had used up our leave and the breeders knowing we wanted a girl called us out of the blue- Kiyo was a mistake the husband had made letting the dog in with her mum. She was our little secret.
    As such she was brought up by the other breeder (they were breeding/business partners) who just left her crated with her litter mates with no training no real interaction.

    She was left with Akira during the day and we could only do any proper training and socialising on weekends and this limited introduction to the world around her is reflected in her wariness of people, dogs and changes in routine and her environment.

    Thus the need for varied training techniques
  • RorsRors
    Posts: 165
    Have been to a never before visited pet shop this morning and noticed a harness the is supposed to stop pulling.
    Has any one tried this one - it seems to pull the harness tighter from under their torso up to the walkers hand.
    I have used the choker chain method when first starting with Akita but stopped it quick smart when I started using the stop go method by accident not just at curb sides.
  • McYogiMcYogi
    Posts: 518
    I'd like to not see this potentially great thread get derailed, so I'll just leave my musings here:

    I really related to the Nicole Wilde excerpt, especially the the "Do No Harm" idea of "least invasive, minimally aversive" technique. I have a hard time understanding why someone would apply training techniques that have the potential to damage the dog (physically, emotionally) when there are many other tried and trusted methods that have no reasonable chance of hurting the dog. It's a risk that I, personally, don't feel is worth it. There are, however, people who use different guidelines and dogs that have different tolerances, and that's something to take into consideration.

    (From the same Nicole Wilde article) I also appreciated that she encourages an open mind, and accepting every new information with a fresh perspective. There are always things to improve upon, always. Continually educating yourself on as many techniques as you can will only help you fine-tune the perfect training method, which SHOULD be a fluid and changing process throughout the life of your dog.

    Rors: I'd like to politely address something. I am having an awfully hard time understanding exactly what you're trying to say in these posts particularly. It seems, to me, like there is a lot of room for misinterpretation in the way you write, and maybe you feel attacked because people are unsure what you're actually trying to say. I sincerely hope you don't find this offensive, because it's just a small note about how I feel you're being perceived. This is purely my opinion.

    Maybe this will help get this informative thread back on track.

  • RorsRors
    Posts: 165
    No thats fine - it must be a cultural syntax thing - I feel I am a balanced trainer - I agree with all of Brads posted info I also truly believe that we need a holistic approach and immerse our dogs in as much natural behaviour as possible ie walks in wooded areas on grass not concrete jungles (Iknow the dog doesnt know any better) the RAW diet is part of that view
    I believe as well as in positive reinforcement that a level of discipline is needed - getting the dog to understand that no means no.
    The discipline comes in various forms but never hurting, smacking or using a rolled up news paper etc.

    As Kuro_Kai has mentioned , in paraphrasing my views and methods cannot I even begin to explain myself clearly.

    In the posts above I tried to explain how I did what I did and When.

    I love my pups and hate the kind of label that was misunderstood as my stance when I misused a label/labels - I did open the door I realise now by mentioning that dogs still have some behavioural characteristics as wolves - more so with Shibas especially made worse when not socialised. I know they aren't Wolves they have been domesticated which changes the level of characteristics dogs would otherwise have. This was also Shown in experiments in Russia performed on The Silver Fox, there has been a Documentary: The secret life of dogs - that included this experiment, which was excellent and worth getting a copy of.

    I do what I feel is best for my pups and I am responsible to them. as Brad said - "its like religion" or telling someone the best way to raise your kids - there are a pile of books on those subjects - but whose right?

    Though it cant be seen I have enjoyed reading other threads about the experiences with the wonderful breed. I read these with excitement and interest in understanding their hands on experience with their unique dogs and only try to comment on what I know from my experience and research.

    If I have come off too aggressive in general( as my wife also seems to think) before anyone has gotten used to my core beliefs then I apologise to all

    Does this help?
    Post edited by Rors at 2010-12-18 05:10:59
  • An interesting discussion on types of dog owner personalities. Thought I would throw this in here, because dog owner personalities might influence "family/pack dynamics".
  • Kuro_KaiKuro_Kai
    Posts: 543
    I posted this before

    I feel there are times when I do have to establish a hard rule. I have a responsibility both to Kai and anyone around him not to allow some behaviors. I'm not talking about pulling on leash or not paying attention. At 20lbs Kai can easily knock a 50lb kid on his back. Hell, he can move the sofa with my 130lb girlfriend sitting on it with a shiba 500 running start and rebounding off the sofa back. That kind of power represents a danger to a small child, even if Kai just wants to say hello.

    To meet that responsibility, I have to step up and say "No, this is not allowed".Being a responsible dog owner, I have to make sure Kai understands that behavior is wrong. That it is not allowed. That there is no room for compromise. That there will be a consequence for jumping on a child. And, no, I don't believe he has a moral compass. That thought is ludicrous. But he does know and understand what I do not want him doing.

    Now some may call this "being alpha". Others may call it "being Dad". And I call it "Leading". I do establish rules. Kai does have to follow the rules. There are consequences for breaking the rules. We trained this early on with Kai. He has a NRM. He also has a punishment marker. And though it may appear minor or inconsequential, shortening his leash or taking away a toy, they are taking things from him. And he understands that and avoids behaviors I've told him are not right. And generally stops a behavior when I tell him it's wrong.

    Of course being Kai and almost 6 months old, I have to repeat it a couple times so he understands "No, it's still wrong when you do it in the sunlight". "Nope, still wrong when you do it in Petsmart". "Not going to be Right because you did it while the wind blew". "Nuh uh, not right when..." :-P
  • BradA1878BradA1878
    Posts: 2242
    I don't have an issue with the use of punishment as long as it follows the LIMA philosophy. But I'll admit, I prefer the use of Negative Punishment (P-) over the use of Positive Punishment (P+).

    For those that are not familiar with those terms, Negative Punishment is punishing by removing something from the environment (like a time out, or ignoring your dogs), and Positive Punishment is punishing by adding something to the environment (like hitting, or shocking).

    I really don't think there is anyone that can live with a dog and never use punishment, even if it is simply telling a dog "no". (which would be P+, BTW)


    Also I am not really a fan of the concept of micromanaging my dogs. I prefer to use routines to manage them, perhaps that's because I don't have that strictly one-on-one relationship many of you have. We have several dogs, so our management is compounded. We just couldn't micromanage all our dogs all the time, we would go nuts. So, we get around this by setting routines, allowing the dogs to work out some of their own social structure, and reinforcing the behaviors we like. If one of the dogs does something that we do not like, we use P- to teach them that that behavior isn't acceptable within our social structure. I think dogs should be allowed to experiment and explore and learn the rules instead of just being handed a "command".

    My point is, I guess I am over the "I need to control my dogs all the time" mindset, now I have more of a "I want you (dogs) to have freedom, please prove to me you can handle it" method.


    One thing that really gets to me in dog training and dog behavior are the training concepts that are built around a human mimicking a dog's behavior. I just think that is silly. It's as silly as treating a dog like a human.

    It's not as if the dog thinks you are a dog, or even views you as an equal. By acting like a dog you are not "speaking dog", your just a human acting out what you feel a dog does (or should do). Really, this may be the thing that bother me the most about many of the alpha/dominance concepts - they are built around the logical leap that if a human acts like a dog the dog can understand what the human is "saying" (reads it as if it was from the dog's perspective).

    I chatted with my wife about this the other day, I actually do believe that a human *might* be able to coexist with wolves/dogs on a level where they would accept the human as one of their own, but I think that requires such an insane level of commitment that the average, or even above average, person would NEVER accomplish it. Like that guy that lives with wolves, and feeds on their kill, and licks the moths of the wolves, and marks territory with the wolves - like he takes it 100% and it appears to work for him... but that doesn't mean I can take just one little part of what he does, use it half ass with my dogs, and expect it to actually translate. Right?

  • InoushiInoushi
    Posts: 555
    I was just wondering, why is positive reinforcement considered better in the dog world? While I can see why from a moral standpoint, someone who works with other people's dogs (I always use strictly positive reinforcement with dogs I work with, the closest I get to negative reinforcement is a time out) and as a dog owner, I haven't seen the science to back this up. I'm planning to be a psychologist, and have been studying learning theory for a while now, under some respected mentors, and yet I don't ever hear about the merits of positive reinforcement. A lot of people here think of learning theory as being all about positive reinforcement, but I've studied only a small fraction of it (its very, very massive) and its much more complex than that. Things like context, probability, timing, and motivation vs performance all play a much bigger role then it. In psychology positive reinforcement its just one possible tool you can use, and is used just as much as negative reinforcement (i.e. shocks), if not less. In fact, in the psychological field negative reinforcement is utilized for humans as well. For example if a patient doesn't show up to their appointment on time, or with their "hw" done, you don't see them that day. Which gets me to another point I want to make, I feel that a lot of people shy away from negative reinforcement when it's not necessarily something that will hurt the animal, just like positive reinforcement can hurt the animal.

    For example when you ignore a puppy for biting you, you are not using positive training, you are in fact using negative reinforcement, whereas smiling at your pup when it does something wrong is positive reinforcement. Don't get me wrong, I don't like the idea of using force with animals, however, I also don't think it's entirely scientifically accurate to say its better or that one can't be harmful. I've seen people make animals so dependent upon treats that when the moment they needed their training the most, but didn't have a treat, they ended up with a dead dog. From my own experience, Ive always used a little bit of both with all of my animals. My Rottweiler uses a prong collar (however it is nowhere as near as sharp as the ones they make today) i know a lot of people feel it's not needed, but when you have a hundred pound animal that has a lot of prejudice towards it in a crowded urban setting, you can't take the chance (especially when your twelve years old and weigh less). In the case of Shiba Inu I have heard how much they need positive reinforcement, however I can tell you that it was through the use of negative reinforcement I had a pup who was still cutting teeth who knew not chew wires, or destroy my things. He doesn't need to be crated and has the run of the house, and is only separated so that my other dog takes a break from him. People sometimes express the fear that their dog will hate them if they aren't anything but passive aggressive however, both of my dogs love me to bits. If I take them off the lead they wont walk too far away from me, and when I come home I get the wonderful experience of two dogs literally dancing in joy.

    Which brings me to my view on packs. I totally agree with Mech, I've been a fan of his since grade school, and I know how much he has changed his work over the years. I have spent a lot of time reading literature on wolves because they have been my favorite animal since before I could say sentences. So I really do believe the old definitions are pretty outdated. However I also don't think dogs are too different from them. I have found it very interesting that people often say that dogs are not wolves when it comes to pack theory, but will justify crate training with their ancestry. From my research, I have come to the conclusion that wolves are the generalists, where as dogs are the specialists. Wolves have the traits of all dogs, while dogs have some traits of the wolves, some of which are much more extreme. However I think in a social context wolves are more mature and socially developed, whereas the dog is immature and has been developed to understand human cues. Dogs do belong to family units, and the do know who is boss. How you reach that status is dependent upon you. I personally am against using food and resources as a means of leadership. I have yet to find a dog trained that way that wasn't what I call a traitor mutt. For this reason I free feed all of my animals. I do it in a controlled enough way that they stay trim, but they eat when they want to. I don't take their food away from them, and because of this food aggression for most foods is pretty much nonexistent in my household nor do I have to worry about them choking on their kibble.

    In the end, you can read a thousand books, and talk to a million people, but its all about what sort of relationship you want with your dog, and what works for that. When you train your dog to be a certain way through books, keep in mind your training it to be someone else's ideal dog (even though a lot of people love Dunbar, I don't think it's fair to say that model of dog behavior is the perfect dog for everyone, its dunbar's perfect dog, so I think people need to beat themselves up less if they messed up according the schedules outlay-ed in Dunbar's work. I know this because even as people express regret, they still say they love their dogs), for it be your ideal dog, you're going to have find some things out on your own.

    *I do not intend for anyone to take my anecdotes as form as advisement or advice, just simply as a way to see things from a different perspective. I also want to say that each dog is different and you can only shape their behavior so much be it through how it was bred (because you can't truly control temperaments through breeding, from a psychological standpoint it's a mixture of many things) or how you trained it. So if you wind up with a terror it may not be entirely your fault.
  • InoushiInoushi
    Posts: 555
    @ Brada: I totally agree with you! I really think its silly to be a "dog" some of the time, and its pretty obvious that dogs do not view humans as other dogs. I'm also not a fan of micro managing. When people do that I find that it builds tension between the dog and the owner. Especially when people want their dog to be good when they have to leave them home alone. Ive let my two dogs work out everything with little intervention and I have to say they bonded very fast. The only time I really intervene is when I see evidence of food aggression, or if my older dog wants to sleep but the puppy wants to play. Other then that, I don't come running when the two of them are snarling and tumbling in play (I was told by someone watching them interact that I was a bad owner, even though both of my dogs were having a fun time) or when they have minor disputes. They can sort these things out on their own, and because of that, it never escalates. Does that mean I don't supervise them? Nope, but I prefer dogs to let my dogs do their own thing for the most part, plus its pretty educational if you ask me.
  • Great thread, and thanks Brad for putting so much information in one place--you've made this a really good reference thread. I wonder if it should be stickied?

    I agree with McYogi quite a bit...good points on all this!

    And I'll add something about what McYogi also said to Rors here: Rors, I also think I just get confused by your posts sometimes, and because sometimes it sounds like you're taking things really personally (even here,in your first post, when you speak of "the judgemental" which I would say are probably just people who may not entirely agree with you), and that tone makes it more likely that people will not spend time trying to figure out what you mean, you know? (Or at least it makes me react that way). Because from reading your posts here, I think, well, probably the only thing we disagree on is the use of terms alpha/beta etc, which I just don't see the point of, but otherwise, I found your methods as described to be pretty similar to what a lot of people who completely disagree with dominance theory use. So my feeling is that a lot of the arguments here have to do with lack of clarity rather than anything else. And I don't mean this in an argumentative way....just my observation...

    I was interested in the types of trainers. I think I'm sort of leaning toward the expert, just because I'm by nature a person who studies and researches things. I have some of the other types too, though, too, including the one I liked least, which was the free spirit... :)

    I consider myself a positive trainer, even though I also use punishment, even though I tend not to think of it in those terms (simply because until I came to this forum, I thought of punishment only in terms of physical P+ punishment) It's mostly, but not always, P- as in ignoring, taking things away. But there are some P+ in that I do tell my dogs "aaah aaah aaaah" when they are doing something I don't like (like jumping up on the table) and I've even grabbed them by the scruff or collar, but in the latter case very very rarely (it's almost always in a case of canine aggression when I'm trying to get one to leave the other alone, and every time it happens, I think there has got to be a better way of doing this, but sometimes when I'm worried a dog is going to get hurt, I just go for separating them). I'm very much in tune with the LIMA philosophy. Some people say the alpha stuff, which I reject, works on their dogs. Fine. Doesn't work on mine. I tried some of that on Toby when he was a pup, because I was confused and people told me that an alpha roll would sort him out, or staring at him would, or scruffing him would. It made him a wild, aggressive mess (luckily, as soon I saw it was making things worse, I stopped!) Even now, if he doesn't want to do something, if I grab his collar and try to force him, he'll look away and growl. But you know what? I can almost ALWAYS lure him to do what I want. Some people would say I've "given in" to him,but I think I've just found a way to work with him. He's super sensitive about having his collar touched. We work around it.

    I did training in the "old" way, so it's not like I don't know what it is about and how it works. I just think it can be harmful for many dogs, and above all, it's just not necessary. I even did agility with my GSD through old school training methods, until finally I realized he hated it...he hated training, because it was too stressful for him. He got so stressed out he simply shut down. I really wish I could go back and undo that--he was a very handler soft dog, and even a raised voice was stressful to him--but I can't. What I can do is make sure I don't make the same mistakes with another dog, and hopefully, I can, here and there, help other people not harm their dogs with coercive training methods based on bad science (dominance theory). And I can also compare how different it is to work with a dog through coercive/aversive training and through positive training...and I see how much faster my dog learns, and how joyfully, and that makes a huge difference to me.

    And I also think I have something in common with Brad, though I only have three dogs. A lot of my work with the dogs is managing behavior. And some things other people are concerned about, I just don't care about. I'm not that into instant obedience--I enjoy watching my NKs figure things out on their own. I don't care if they get on the furniture, and a lot of things other people don't want dogs doing, I simply don't care about. Training can be fun if we both enjoy it, but I also enjoy the antics of my Shibas, and they even trained me not to be too concerned about them not coming when called! I used to think I wanted a dog who would do everything I say, and then I had a GSD for years, and I realized I wasn't very interested in that kind of obedience, as it turns out. (I probably do more micromanaging than Brad and Ariel do, but I also have two dogs that have proven they will try to kill each other, so I think my micromanaging with them is probably necessary!)

    I also find the idea that we have to be like a dog to train a dog ridiculous. It annoys me no end. (Esp. biting a dog. WTF? Makes me wonder about the intelligence of some humans). Obviously, dogs are intelligent species. They learn our language. They know what their name means, what ride or go or dinner means. They learn to communicate with us. We don't have to be like them to be understood. And in addition, just watching several dogs together shows how there is rarely one who is "dominant" all the time...their relationships with one another are also fluid. (I noticed this once it was pointed out to me, but of course there are other people who back this up, as in Coren, noted above) I also get pretty upset about people doing things that I believe are harmful to dogs. I'm willing to say there is room for other training methods than mine, but I find the use of e-collars abhorrent and unnecessary, and while I don't think slip collars and prong collars are as bad, I also don't see the point in using them. I like the LIMA philosophy. I know I become quite judgmental about the things I think cause harm to dogs, but, well, I'm only human, and some things really do upset me.
    Post edited by shibamistress at 2010-12-18 06:27:35
  • Also, sorry for the double post, but I think I was crossposting with one thing I would add is I don't have any scientific evidence that positive training is better--and I don't need it. I just see that I HARMED a dog with more "traditional" training methods (my GSD, who just shut down, finally, when faced with things he didn't know) and positive training hasn't harmed my dogs at all, and in fact, with my punkass Shiba Toby (to borrow a term from Dave on the NK side), it's the only thing that works. I don't think you always DO use treats with positive training (eventually you don't need them all the time). But also, my Shibas arent' going to do anything they don't want to do, and I don't believe anyone could have trained them with another method and made them better (Bel would shut down entirely in her timidness; Toby is the kind of dog who would die rather than give in in some circumstances). both can be lured in with treats, and Bel positively blooms with clicker training, and Toby even comes when called since we started clicker training. I've seen more dogs respond faster to clicker training another lure and reward than other methods, so for me, that's enough incentive. And it works with my dogs (including my 90 pound Akita puppy) and with my really strong desire to do no harm.
    Post edited by shibamistress at 2010-12-18 06:32:27
  • RorsRors
    Posts: 165
    Thanks for the advise Shibamistress - to see how all of you care so much about the mental and physical welfare of your dogs and the vast array of options you use is great, again sorry for not realising the weighted terms I used in past threads. If you watch my new clip of when my two were younger I hope it explains my reaction to what I thought were suggestions that I was using outdated and damaging methods.

    As can be seen I agree with no need for micro managing every move the dog makes, I feel it would subdue their personality/character to much.
    I know there will be huge challenges ahead because we found a breeder that will not enforce neutering (re: the risks to the dog info that someone provided) so will wait hopefully past a year and look forward to further advise from those that have gone through the terrible teens.
  • I'm far from an expert on this. I've grown up around dogs my whole life, but Katsu and Tanuki are the first two that are totally mine. When I was a kid my family raised their dogs the "old school" way. If the dog peed it got it's nose rubbed in it, if it did something bad it got a whap on the ass. A major turning point for me on how I view dogs was when my aunt got her Akita/Shep mix Pepper. She let me pick him out from the pound, and I stayed over the first weekend ,he was home. I slept next to him in the basement for three days, fed him, cleaned up after him. He wasn't a perfect puppy he got into stuff, chewed on things, messed in the house. My aunt would still do the old school stuff to correct him, I never did. I'm not sure if it had anything to do with that but me and that dog were best friends. I never laid a hand on him in anger and he always listened to me, he was like my shadow when I went over and we did everything together. I know it's a human term and hard to apply to dogs but I feel that he "respected" me. To me it's more about respect with your dog then with dominance. Respect is something that's calm but still strong , it's firm. To me dominate is more violent, it's imposing your will forecfully. Again this is with people so it doesn't exactly translate with dogs. We don't hit our guys, we don't use shock collars. We praise and love them, and when they're bad we take something away.

    As far as using pain as a teaching tool in dogs. Pain is one of the oldest and most basic sensations/survival instincts. It is ignorant to ignore something that evolution has been using to teach lessons for millions of years. I really do feel that a measured and controlled amount of pain can be used as a teaching tool in people but not in dogs. The main diffrence is that a person can be made to understand why something is happening to them. Without the understanding there's no lesson. No matter how much research has been done, no matter how much experience one may have with their dogs there is no way that you can communicate/understand what they're thinking. You can make very educated guesses and you'll probably be partially right, but you'll never know 100 percent. You can't talk to your dog like you'd talk to a person. You can't explain to them why you're shocking them, or hitting them. They may learn on a basic level, don't do this because it hurts, and it may work. Dogs don't have morals, but people do. So when it comes to training I feel that people should act morally towards there dogs. Buy everyone has a different standard of morality.
  • McYogiMcYogi
    Posts: 518
    I'll second or third the opinion that mico-managing isn't the best way for our herd. I don't have children, but I can imagine that, especially if they were close in age, that the first child would get all the discipline and structure, the second child would probably get a little less, and the third child would just be expected to follow the rules already established with the first ones. I vaguely remember the concept "birth order" ( from my psych classes, which obviously deals with humans and not dogs, but I think the way we raise our dogs could be similar.

  • RorsRors
    Posts: 165
    This is so cool. Can you help me regarding these Dog behaviour observations, I have tried to keep my opinion out of the narrative :
    I really would like other interpretations of what could be going on.

    Firstly My two pups aren't Shibas - but they are definitely Spitz. I have also seen most other dogs do this : Dry Humping,
    Please dont be offended by the term, I use it to describe the humping action with no genital contact.
    Kiyo the female will DH Akira the boy at times when he is getting more attention than her. Also who walks through a door first? Sleeping on beds is it an issue: I was lead to believe this was an act dominant behaviour.

    Secondly: The first time my wife and I met real live Shibas in their own home.

    Their owners occasionally breed and regularly Show the younger Dogs and all of their dogs have been or are Champions or Grand Champion dogs here in Australia. They use Nippo lines and import Sperm from Japan when they breed.

    The following terms regarding dominance and pack behaviour are ***theirs not mine***

    We arrived at the house and the dogs were in there pens and couldnt see us, we were asked to sit on the sofa and wait.
    Then they said they would let in the Alpha Male and female ( these were the parents of the beta female).

    The 10 yr old A male (Who by the way would finish any fights their Siberian Husky would start) walked in up to us had a sniff and allowed us to briefly pat him then walked away sat somewhere else and didnt come up to us again.He also is used as pet therapy at retirement villages and childrens wards.
    The A female walked in about the same time waited for the male to do his thing then gave us a sniff for a much longer period
    (seemed like 5 min) while letting us pat her. OK they were put back after about 30min.

    Then the show started. The Beta Dogs were let into the room.
    The B Male walked straight up to my wife and put his two front paws on her lap and stared her straight in the eyes from about 8 inches away - for about 10 seconds.
    As soon as I saw this I kept my gaze steady watching him the whole time. The B male never glanced up to look me in the eye he just calmly walked past me to a gap on the sofa jumped up and sat up behind me on the head rest - head leaning over mine.

    after about 5min the owner called him over to show us the shiba scream and soon after that the Bs gave us a Shiba 500

    I truly fell in love with the breed after that introduction.

    The breeders dont let the two males in the exercise yard together, the Beta will often start trouble with the Alpha when the girls are around and are not even in season.

    The second breeder/show-er we have locally also runs her males separately for similar reasons.
    Post edited by Rors at 2010-12-18 21:27:10
  • BradA1878BradA1878
    Posts: 2242
    This discussion has gone great, I've really enjoyed reading every one's opinions. I enjoy discussions like this, where there is a free exchange of data, thoughts, and such. Thanks all for the participation!

    I've changed the name of the discussion to be more inclusive since a lot of the thoughts presented are about training. I should have probably done that in the beginning.

    So I don't really have a whole lot to add (I always write that and end up adding a lot tho lol). Most of what I would write would be repetitious since many of you have already written it in one way or another. There were some interesting things written tho, and I'd like to give some thoughts on them...


    @Ariel - I dunno that there is any science that proves "positive reinforcement" training is better than "negative reinforcement" training. Actually I think it may be the opposite, from a purist standpoint, Learning Theory kinda dictates that the end result from either punishment or reinforcement yields the same net result. In other words, you can train (a dog) to do a behavior using punishment or reinforcement, from a scientific stand point it doesn't make a difference which one you use.

    When you bring up that people tend to view reinforcement or "positive methods" as better than the alternative, I think what you are actually seeing is a misunderstanding of punishment and the role it plays in the alpha/dominance training model.

    A trainer that trains using methods derived from the alpha/dominance model is in the wrong, not because they use punishment, but because their use of punishment is used to reinforce and incorrect model. So, that means, their use of punishment (or reinforcement) is incorrect. Punishing a dog for doing something you consider is higher up the social latter than he/she is allowed to do makes the use of punishment completely wrong. If you don't want a dog to lean on you, train them not to lean on you because you don't like that behavior, not because he is trying to"dominate" you (the "pack leader").

    So, I think what you see is that people adopt a non-alpha/dominance model and then abandon (and black-list) all forms of punishment so that they don't ever fall back in to (and are not associated with) the alpha/dominance model. The reality is tho, that you can use punishment to train a dog with or without the alpha/dominance model. AND, as you mentioned, there are friendlier versions of punishment (like time outs) one can choose to use instead of those Positive Punishment (P+) methods that are so often used in the alpha/dominance camp.

    Having written all that, between punishment and reinforcement, I do feel reinforcement is a much safer tool (and therefore a better tool) for the average dog owner to use because it allows for some wiggle room to make mistakes. If you make a mistake reinforcing your dog with treats the worst that can happen is that you don't train the desired behavior and you get a fat dog. If you make a mistake using punishment, especially in the form of positive punishment (P+), not only do you not train the desired behavior but you also run a very high risk of ruining your relationship with your dog - or worse - creating a fearful dog.

    One issue that I have seen (from experience) with Positive Punishment (P+) is that people tend to do a poor job of keeping their punishments consistent (in their harshness). If you smack your dog for eating off the table you better make sure you smack him the next time and with equal or more force otherwise he will get a mixed signal. People tend to correct very harshly the first time and then not as harsh the next time and then harsher the next (out of irritation), this gives the dog very volatile feedback (a mixed message)... If that person would have used a different method, one that used reinforcement instead (like using a treat to redirect) of punishment, or even Negative Punishment (P-) instead of Positive Punishment (P+), the dog would get a more consistent view of the expected behavior (because you cannot really vary the force of a treat - a treat is a good thing, perhaps there are better treats, but its still a reinforcer no matter how high their value) .

    In short, positive training methods are "idiot proof", and so, perhaps, that is why they may be seen as better than the alternative.


    In regards to the closeness of dogs to their wild counterparts I do agree that it may very from breed to breed but, with social structure, I don't really see any domestic canine as being close enough to their wild counterpart to be bale to derive any type of valuable behavioral construct. However, I do think Learning Theory applies to wolves in the same way it applies to dogs and so the methods used to train a wolf would/could be the same used to train a domestic dog.

    I hate to use the example, but its like comparing humans to chimps.


    The Russian Silver Fox project was brought up earlier in this thread, that is a very interesting thing. I feel it is a very telling experiment, and god bless the Russians for doing it. The Russians do some of the best scientific studies ( like this: ).

    Anyway, one thing that is often overlooked in that study is one of the the things I find most interesting. In that program they also raised a set of foxes to be more aggressive than the constant (the unaltered foxes) via selecting for aggression. They then swapped pups from the foxes selected for aggression and the foxes selected for tameness. The 2 female foxes raised the litter not knowing the switch was made.

    The end result?

    The aggressive pups remained aggressive even tho they were raised by a tame mother, and the tame pups remained tame even tho raised by an aggressive mother. Now doesn't that tip the scales toward "Nature" in the "Nature vs. Nurture" argument?

    This relates to the alpha/dominance thing to me, because many of the trainers that subscribe to the alpha/dominance model also seem to think place a higher value on the "Nurture" part of the "Nature vs. Nurture". This is the "balanced dog" camp's big "thing", that any dog that misbehaves or shows aggression is "unbalanced". This complete ignores the genetics of a breed. Some breeds are selected for aggression.

    Post edited by BradA1878 at 2010-12-18 23:21:13
  • Kuro_KaiKuro_Kai
    Posts: 543
    I don't think you're using the term "balanced" correctly, at least not where I sit. I think I'd be considered a balanced trainer but I fit more along the lines of what Dunbar was saying in the video: to raise a balanced dog you must reward and punish. Doing so teaches the dog what's right and what's wrong from your perspective.

    Let's take trying to distract a dog from an aggressive behavior using treats. It usually works and the dog begins to associate whatever he was afraid of with good things. But to me there's still the underlying threat: he wasn't taught that becoming aggressive is the wrong way to handle the situation. The aggression is still there. Just not associated with that particular stimuli. So, yes, we can treat the puppy when he starts barking and snapping at kids. And the puppy will stop doing it. But here comes the little old lady on a walker. The routine starts all over again.

    With Kai, I generally say "Hey!" in a sharp voice. He knows when I say that, whatever he's doing isn't the right thing. Often he will then look at me like he's saying "Well I don't know wtf to do since barking at the crackhead wasn't right... So now what???". Now I can give him an instruction and reward that if he obeys. He's trained twice:
    1. No, don't do that
    2. Yes, do this

    And that is what I considered balanced training: giving Kai feedback in what's Wrong AND what's Right. What I consider unbalanced is when one is given without the other. You can't tell constantly tell a dog what's Wrong without telling him what's Right. That will likely lead to a fearful dog. I don't believe people can constantly tell a dog what's Right without ever telling him what's Wrong.

    Without the definition of what's Wrong, every new encounter is left open to experimentation on the dog's part and reaction on the owner's part. If he doesn't know using his teeth is the wrong thing, the experimentation includes that as well.
  • BradA1878BradA1878
    Posts: 2242
    @Kuro_Kai - I'm assuming that post was directed at me. You are describing training methods that follow the “LIMA” philosophy. As I wrote before, I am a fan of the “LIMA” philosophy. I am not against the use of punishment if it is used correctly. You call this "Balanced Training" and refer to Dunbar's "Binary Feedback" video, I call this (regular old) "training" - or maybe even "good training".

    What I wrote above was "Balanced Dog" not "Balanced Training". I was referring to the the group who subscribe to the commonly used training models that preach about creating "Balanced Dogs"... These groups are usually Cesar-Millan-type trainers who follow the Alpha/Dominance model.

    I don't think you fit into this group and, therefore, my comment wasn't directed at you. Please don't think I was calling you out.

    Post edited by BradA1878 at 2010-12-18 23:20:24
  • Kuro_KaiKuro_Kai
    Posts: 543
    I don't take anything personal unless it is directed at directly me directly ;-) So no worries. I dunno what Cesar Millan and his camps are trying to achieve. Or what they terms they use to describe it. But to me a balanced trainer is trying to achieve a balanced dog. Yin & Yang almost.

    I think terminology is again mudding the water.
  • Brad, you hit one of my main problems with the whole alpha dog/dominance training based methods. It really has the potential to get out of hand and do more harm to your dogs than good if you're not well versed and cosistent in it's aplication. In some of my trips to the dog park I've seen people using this method and even "teaching" it to others. Just because you make the best Ceasear Milan "CCCHHHHHTTTT" sound doesn't make you an expert. I've sat on a bench listening to someone tell someone else the importance of dominating their dog and the finer points of doing the fake biting thing that Ceasar does, all the while demonstrating it on his dog who was just sitting there. What is that teaching his dog! I've seen a guy run into the middle of a fight that broke out, throw his arms out to the side and then give a super "CCHHTTT" to try to break up the fight. What the hell is that supposed to do? I've seen people grab their dog by the scruff of the neck push them down to the ground and then roll them. This teaches what? I've never said anything to these people because they can train their dogs the way they want, and I'm no expert. But I really don't see what kind of results they expect.

    In my very unprofessional opinion the words dominance and aggression are very overused by some when it comes to their dogs. A dog is such a complex animal, that the words are used in too much of a general way. I really don't see how humping is a dominant act. Katsu will bang the hell out of Tanuki when they're playing, Tanuki will hump her right back. There's no aggression they're just playing. When Katsu sees another dog she'll get excited and bark some may see this as an aggressive act but she just wants to play. Sometimes people apply these labels to their dogs behaviours too quickly. My dog is on the couch he's dominating me, my dog lifts his leg he's being dominant, my dog sat on my head and farted on me he did that to show he's the alpha dog, etc. I'm not saying that dogs can't be dominant or aggressive, just that it doesn't happen as often people think.

    However I have seen Katsu show a dominant attitude a few times. This happens mostly when we go to my aunts house. My aunt has a sweet boxer/shep mix named Riley. At a bbq when Katsu was a puppy my dad threw two ribs on the ground for the dogs. Katsu and Riley ran over, and little 10 lb Katsu used her 100lb attitude to intimidate a much bigger RIley. She ended up getting both ribs and chasing Riley away. We took a rib from her and gave it back to Riley and seperated them. Katsu cleaned hers to the bone in about thirty seconds and then went over and tried to get the rib from Riley. We ended up taking the ribs away totally. We've been over some other holidays, and Katsu will take over Riley's food and keep her away from her food bowl. So from my understand this is Katsu being dominant over Riley. There is a limited resource, Katsu and RIley want it. Katsu takes it and keeps Riley from having it. She doesn't do this to Tanuki and we haven't really freaked out about it when we go to my aunts house. When the dogs are fed Katsu is fed in her crate, and no one puts food down on the floor. Riley is the only dog she does this with, and I thik alot of it has to do with the fact that Riley is a very timid dog. I think she's timid because of the way she's been trained.

    I know a breeder who lets her dogs out in a certain order. Mostly it does more with the dogs personalities and sexes. Obviously when the females are in season she won't let them out unwatched with a male, she doesn't want any accidental breedings. Also she'll be careful with the females because they can be more snakry when they're in season. There are males that won't be let out together, more because certain males weren't raised and trained by her so they're not a well socialized rather than the fact they're trying to be dominant. I also think alot of it is that she doesn't want 15 shibas out in a run at once. I don't care who you are 15 shibas is too much for anyone to try to watch at once.

    As far as our horrible training goes, we're definitely not the best. Katsu is super laid back and generally well behaved, she's recieve most of the training and knows the most commands. She's super smart and actually does listen to us more often than not. Tanuki is still a maniac and is pretty dumb sometimes. He knows sit and how to give kisses. He also know the word "Enough". That's his leave it command, it can mean don't drink that whole bowl of water in 10 seconds. Or stop eating the grass, or sit down and give me that stick your trying to eat. For him it means stop what you're doing and look at me. But mostly it comes down to us for his lack of training.

    We'll train using treats, and I've used a clicker to teach Katsu a few things. We use praise when they do something we like. If they're doing something bad we'll take away whatever they're into, or take them out of the situation. When they're running around like total maniacs we will yell out" Hey knock it off" or something like that. If the shiba 500 gets too out of hand we'll hold one of the couch pillows over our head and say "pillow" For whatever reason it gets their attention and they calm down. So I don't even know what kind of training or lack there of camp we fall into. I'd be willing to try any kind of training as long as it didn't use fear or pain as a main teaching component. The more I've read this thread the more I realize that ther is no unifiying theory of dog training. It really comes down to you and your dog. Mostly it comes down to the person.
  • BradA1878BradA1878
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  • BradA1878BradA1878
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  • BradA1878BradA1878
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  • BradA1878BradA1878
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  • inubakainubaka
    Posts: 174
    I'm adding this interview link to this discussion

    It's worth the 38 minutes, John Bradshaw is bringing common sense back to our relationship with our dogs. He says our dogs actually like spending time with us (imagine that, even shibas?) and being worried about dominance all the time is taking away from the time and consideration we should be giving to becoming a better friend to our dog.

    His best point (in my opinion) in the interview is about military training. Humans go through hell when they are in military training. Hell. Military dogs are trained almost exclusively with rewards. Rewards. If the military can understand the value of using rewards based training with specially trained dogs - why can't pet homes?
    He also says that the military dogs have incredible bonds with their handlers - they respect and deeply care for one another. He said he saw photos of soldier handlers sleeping with their sniffer dogs over their legs... and he wondered why some popular trainers turn a natural act of sleeping near one anther into a power struggle. Obviously dominance has nothing to do with where a dog chooses to sleep - it makes the most sense that a dog would WANT to sleep near his family, on their bed most times. If military dogs can peacefully slumber on/with their handlers, why can't pet dogs?

    Anyway I hope it helps this discussion and I hope someone can get something out of the interview.
  • inubakainubaka
    Posts: 174
    Oh - and he talks about the old and new science about wolves, and how the wolf is a still very wild canid while dogs (save for a few breeds) truly seem to enjoy human company - separating them in that aspect far beyond the DNA percentage.
  • SayaSaya
    Posts: 6678
    Thanks for posting this.

    I sadly live with my parent's still my mom is for positive reinforcement, but my dad loves the whole dominance negative type training.

    His method to get Bella to learn to heel and walk nicely was to have her extremely tight on the leash poor girl was so uncomfortable coarse being a dumb 25 year old he wouldn't listen to me when I asked him to stop or to give her to me.

    Finally he got the hint he was not wanted on walks and after positive training and other techniques that don't require choking the dog she now walks great mostly just on a loose leash and sometimes will heel with no distractions are around and only pulls if a deer is seen, but settles quickly.

    It makes me sick he thinks just because he trained military K9 doesn't mean he knows how to train a dog correctly.. I guess his K9 unit was more into negative training or it has changed for better now I dunno..

    Anyways thanks for the thread Brada and thanks for the link On that i'll have to check it out.
    Nicole, 5year old Bella(Boxer), and 4year old Saya(Shiba inu)
  • shibamistressshibamistress
    Posts: 5171
    I went to look up the John Bradshaw book on Amazon, and it also pulled up this book, which looked really interesting as well, by Kevin Behan. I haven't read it, nor do I know much about him or his philosophy, but the description (below) sounded intriguing, so I thought I'd mention it here.


    From the description:
    In Your Dog Is Your Mirror, dog trainer Kevin Behan proposes a radical new model for understanding canine behavior: a dog’s behavior and emotion, indeed its very cognition, are driven by our emotion. The dog doesn’t respond to its owner based on what the owner thinks, says, or does; it responds to what the owner feels. And in this way, dogs can actually put people back in touch with their own emotions.

    Behan was originally trained under the dominance theory by his father, John Behan, one of the first in America to make dog training a career. But he eventually came to believe that what made the modern dog trainable was not the dominance hierarchy but the dog’s ability to work as a cooperative group member in the hunt. This ability then evolved into an emotional capacity that perfectly complements human emotion.

    Behan demonstrates that dogs and humans are connected more profoundly than has ever been imagined — by heart — and that this approach to dog cognition can help us understand many of dogs’ most inscrutable behaviors. This groundbreaking, provocative book opens the door to a whole new understanding between species, and perhaps a whole new understanding of ourselves.
  • inubakainubaka
    Posts: 174
    I loved Kevin Behan's books... a bit hard to read at first actually, I read and re-read "Natural Dog Training" at least 5 times trying to get it.

    His methods are so, so good for high drive dogs - dogs that would normally be pegged as 'dominant' for their behaviors. I used a lot of the methods with a crazy crazy crazy pit bull/mastiff mix that we fostered. It helped so much to get passed all the creative-blocking semantics like 'alpha' and 'dominance' and just see the dog for what he was - a large, energetic, high drive dog with zero manners or outlets. I worked with him with Behan's pushing exercises, Lee Charles Kelley also has a game called "be the moose" that was super fun, a new kind of hide and seek where you engage the dog as the predator (instead of acting like the predator, which dominance based trainers seem to rely on).
    I had a lot of fun with Vander when he was my foster, I was always exhausted but I learned a lot through Natural Dog Training and letting the dog be a dog. They really are mirrors of ourselves when we connect with them on their level.
    He was very cooperative and eager to learn after a short while!

    Natural Dog Training:
  • jujeejujee
    Posts: 882
    I really need to get a kindle, too many books to read
    Post edited by jujee at 2011-06-01 17:42:41
  • BradA1878BradA1878
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  • inubakainubaka
    Posts: 174
    I wanted to post this on here.

    I got a comment a month ago on this video
    Where Tsuki (our female shiba) is meeting Jiro (male, intact shiba foster) for the first time.
    He was tethered to me because he was sooooo not housebroken.
    My male shiba hadn't met him yet, I think he was with us for maybe three days when I shot this video.

    Their meet and greet was pretty typical of Tsuki - she goes in and always attempts to play and do her due sniffing routine. If the dog responds she stays happy, but if they get weird or too excited she'll (correctly) correct them. I sort of let the dogs tell me how they feel about each other and I manage them based on that.

    The comment I got was : "looks like Jiro is gonna establish himself as dominant haha!"

    I have no idea how that person arrived at that conclusion, all they're doing is sniffing each other.
    That word, even if its just semantics, it gets in the way of people really seeing what they are seeing. They just want to label everything, I guess.
    If I bought into that theory of canine interaction, I think I'd have much more stressed out, micromanaged dogs and wouldn't have nearly the success I do have integrating adult dogs (of unknown origin most times) with my own three adult dogs.
  • SayaSaya
    Posts: 6678
    I don't get why they think that either. I guess because Jiro is being calm and people might equate as a calm leader type? I dunno.

    I thought they were just greeting no dominance going on in it. weird.
    Nicole, 5year old Bella(Boxer), and 4year old Saya(Shiba inu)
  • BradA1878BradA1878
    Posts: 2242
    "That word, even if its just semantics, it gets in the way of people really seeing what they are seeing. They just want to label everything, I guess. "

    I totally agree. It seems to be human nature to want to label things. That really seems to be a major driving factor in the alpha/dominance meme. That and being able to simplify something that is very difficult to understand.

    When an owner's dog is being reactive at a dog park or something it's a lot easier and convenient to say "he's just being dominant" than to say (and admit) "he's fearful of new dogs and has learned that acting aggressively toward them keeps them away from him and I am being irresponsible by being at a dog park with my dog".

  • LosechLosech
    Posts: 2516
    The labeling thing is what happens at my dog park all the time.

    Yesterday where was a rowdy young white Shepherd/Husky mix who wanted a soccer ball. He would get into tussles with a Pit Bull over it. Everyone threw out the dominance crap and figured it was because he wasn't neutered yet.
    To me it looked like he wanted the ball and didn't want to share. Resource guarding to me, not dominance.

    Another was an old Pointer who didn't like young dogs rushing around her. She would get real snappy and bark angrily at them and chase them off. Conker was one of them, and he deserved it since he charged up to her and got in her face then refused to let her sniff his butt. I'd get angry at a young dog who did that if I was her as well, and everyone kept saying "That Pointer is dominant, she needs a stronger Alpha" etc. It was really obnoxious.

    And yet another was this cute little Pomeranian/Jack Russell mix. He would chase after his ball, get it and bring it back but Conker is a dumbass and likes to charge dogs when they have toys. I try to stop him since I know he's eventually going to start a fight doing that, and this little dog dropped his ball and showed his teeth to Conker who just brushed him off and walked away.
    The woman who owned him mentioned him showing his teeth, and her husband said "He's lucky I didn't see that or I'd have put him on the ground, dominate him like Cesar Millan." The guy continued saying that he was a dominant little dog who needed to be put in his place a lot. I loudly said that it was the little dog's right to show his teeth at mine, and I'd prefer if he did, so Conker would learn that he didn't like Conker charging up to him like that. I also said that suppressing that behavior leads to flat-out attacking and that my dog was the one at fault, not theirs, and that their dog wasn't dominant he was just communicating his dislike towards Conker's behavior.
  • shibamistressshibamistress
    Posts: 5171
    need to bump this thread again.
  • BradA1878BradA1878
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  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8589
    BUMP for new members.
    Bella 2Mountains 2Nola 2
    Casey, with Bella and Nola, hanging out in the mountains of Virginia.
    I Wander, I Ride

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