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View Poll Results: Poll - Do you agree you should be alpha male over your dog?
Yes 70 39.55%
No 70 39.55%
Other, please specify 37 20.90%
Voters: 177. You may not vote on this poll - please see pinned thread in this section for details.



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Lucky Star
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16-04-2009, 10:54 PM
Originally Posted by Pidge View Post
Bloody hell!! Is this the book you've been telling me about? I knew I should have listened to you.

The behaviourists at work that I'm using gave it to me. It's bloody brilliant and makes so much sense.

I feel like such a fool!
Well don't! There is so much information out there, so many self-styled gurus, it is hard, sometimes, to know who to believe. Especially if you have a dog with problems.

Originally Posted by labradork View Post
Try 'Don't Shoot the Dog!' by Karen Pryor. Great book - you'd like it!
Yep, another good one!
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Ramble
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16-04-2009, 10:56 PM
And The Culture Clash....
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Lucky Star
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16-04-2009, 10:58 PM
Originally Posted by Ramble View Post
And The Culture Clash....
Yep - I have that one. The dog training school we went to gave these out for free.
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Pidge
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16-04-2009, 10:58 PM
I'm surprised, looking at the poll results, how many believe they should be in an ''alpha'' role over their dog.
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Ramble
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16-04-2009, 10:59 PM
Gosh that's good. ETA what LS said about the book!!!!!
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Ramble
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16-04-2009, 11:00 PM
Originally Posted by Pidge View Post
I'm surprised, looking at the poll results, how many believe they should be in an ''alpha'' role over their dog.
Lots of people do. Lots of people think CM is the business too though.
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Lucky Star
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16-04-2009, 11:04 PM
Originally Posted by Ramble View Post
Gosh that's good. ETA what LS said about the book!!!!!
Didn't make a difference to Loki but gave us food for thought.
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Meg
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16-04-2009, 11:24 PM
I understand the whole concept of 'alpha and 'dominance' is based on the work of Konrad Lorenz , an Austrian biologist and fervent member of the Nazi Party raised on the cult of wolves.
Modern behaviourists have found his concept to be flawed..
Lorenz had been a fervent member of the Nazi Party before and during the war, and was thusly raised with the
Nazi Cult of the Wolf. This cult painted a picture of the wolf as a noble animal that was very like the Nazi. It
was merciless and wild, a member of a natural hunting elite. The wolf lived in tight, closed groups that were
-- surprise, surprise -- organized just like the Nazi Party. There was the mighty male Alpha leader to whom all
gave unquestioning loyalty, and who ruled the group with an iron hand. There was a strict hierarchy, which
could never be ignored. The lower-downs didn't mind this. They loved their Alpha leader, in fact, the more he
bullied them, the more they adored him. Lorenz was specialized in the study of birds, but once in the US he
didn't hesitate to publish popular books about dogs. He presented the dog to us as a kind of tame wolf that
still lived in a Nazi-like mental world, ever struggling with us to climb up a little higher on the hierarchy. He
warns us not to get sentimental. When you get down on the floor to play with your dog, the dog is pretending
to be friendly, but meanwhile it is using the game to look for chinks in your power. It will grasp every
opportunity to shift the power relations to its own advantage.

No one dared to call Lorenz on the fact that he was projecting, probably partly because he had meantime won
the Nobel Prize, and probably partly just simply because the idea of living with a wolf is so romantic and
appeals to so many of us. His vision on dogs became widely popular, and now many of us are unknowingly
applying a human dictatorship model to our relationships with dogs.

Later, with the field of genetics on the rise, it seemed to many that Lorenz might be right about the dog being a
kind of wolf. There is still much dispute about how close the dog and the wolf are. Some believe the dog split
off 130,000 years ago, others think it was as recent as 12,000 years ago. Some think we tamed the dog's
ancestor, some think (and we are inclined to agree) that the animal made the jump into a new ecological
niche all by itself. In any case, the dog is not the descendant of any living wolf. Its ancestor, whatever that
ancestor may have been, is, by definition extinct.

Besides the time span, there also is much dispute about what genetic similarities mean. To give some
examples, we differ by about 2% genetically from chimpanzees -- but human males and females also differ
genetically by about 2% (men have 2% less DNA). Can we learn about humans by studying chimpanzees?
Can we learn about men by studying women? In other words, is 2% a little or a lot? Before you try to answer
that, think about this: humans differ by only about 15% from rabbits genetically. We think it's reasonable to
say that a rabbit is more than seven times as different from a human female than a human male is, but on the
other hand, is it (or is it not) seven times more different from us as a chimpanzee is?

In the end, we still don't really know and this doesn't matter. Apparently, very small genetic differences can
lead to vastly differing behavior. Each species will behave in its own particular way, regardless of its genetic
similarity to some other species. For a longer or shorter time, the species "dog" has been living in its own
ecological niche and has become adapted to that niche. No matter what it started out as, and no matter when
it stopped being a whatever else it was, the dog is now a dog. Treating him like a wolf will make him just as
unhappy as you would be if everyone treated you like a chimpanzee, or worse yet, the way human men feel
when people treat them like a woman. Meanwhile, let's not forget that even wolves do not live in "dominance
hierarchies."

Forget about the wolf. When you look at your dog, try to see a dog and be ready to learn about him as he is
standing there before you.
WE HAVE BEEN STUDYING THE WRONG ANIMAL THE WRONG WAY.

Most people who write about dogs have read lots of books about the gray wolf. When they write, they simply
transfer everything they've read about this wolf to dogs. This means that most dog books are really about the
gray wolf. As we pointed out on the previous page, this is like watching chimpanzees and then writing a book
about human psychology. Or like watching human men behave and then suddenly writing a book about
human women.

But there's another problem. Most of the studies of wolves are done by watching captive wolves because wild
wolves are so hard to spot and observe. Studying captive animals means you are watching animals behave
under abnormal circumstances. So most of what people write even about wolves has nothing to do with
normal wolf reality. Dr. L. David Mech, just about the greatest living authority on wolves, put it in a nutshell with
these words: “Such an approach is analogous to trying to draw inferences about human family dynamics by
studying humans in refugee camps.”

Dr. Mech has spent most of his life so far observing the gray wolf in its natural surroundings. He has come to
the conclusion that wolves do not organize their relations and their groups by dominance and dominance
hierarchies. Rather, a pack of wolves is organized along family lines. The younger wolves look up to the
older ones not due to dominance relations, but because these are their parents, aunts and uncles. The
relationships seem to be based on affection rather than on power. Mech also blows up the myth that only the
"Alpha" pair mates and bears young. He points out that in the end, all the pack members do mate and
reproduce.

If you want to know any animal, you have to study it in its natural surroundings. Even if you want to keep
believing the dog is a wolf, it's time to update your ideas about wolves. However, the fact remains that if you
want to know about dogs, then you have to study dogs.

The "dominance hierarchy theory" is badly in need of replacing. Schenkel protested the instant the theory was
used to explain the social organization of wolves, but for some reason everyone ignored him. It didn't take
long before the same myth was being used to tell us how domestic dogs organize their groups. We can't
even call this bad science because, in fact, it wasn't science at all.

Nonlinear Dogs by by Alexandra Semyonova also read The Social Organizasion of the Domestic Dog , A Longitudinal Study of Domestic Canine Behavior and the
Ontogeny of Domestic Canine Social Systems, by Alexandra Semyonova
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Wysiwyg
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17-04-2009, 06:29 AM
Originally Posted by Pidge View Post
Bloody hell!! Is this the book you've been telling me about? I knew I should have listened to you.

The behaviourists at work that I'm using gave it to me. It's bloody brilliant and makes so much sense.

I feel like such a fool!
It is one of the very best booklets around in the UK IMO too One of 'em is my mate too LOL.

Another book to read you may really enjoy is 100 ways to train the perfect dog by Sarah Fiosher and Marie MIller. If you go to the link, you can look inside ( love this facility!) and pages 12 and 13 put a lot into words I think of how dogs experience being in domestic homes

http://www.amazon.co.uk/100-Ways-Tra.../dp/0715329413

Wys
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Wysiwyg
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17-04-2009, 06:57 AM
Originally Posted by Minihaha View Post
I understand the whole concept of 'alpha and 'dominance' is based on the work of Konrad Lorenz , an Austrian biologist and fervent member of the Nazi Party raised on the cult of wolves.
Modern behaviourists have found his concept to be flawed..

Mini thanks for that, I've actually got this study, but have only managed to skim read it. Lorenz is an interesting character - we owe a lot to him regarding an understanding of ethology but yes, we are not often told about his links to the Nazis! I've got his book "Man meets Dog" but have yet to read it all, not enough time in the day.

It's interesting too that, as humans, we tend to look for linear hierarchies - it's in our nature to do so!! Says a lot In Donaldson's dvd with Ian Dunbar on dominance, she illustrates how much we as humans revere hierarchies eg the army, the church, etc.

The problem with dominance/alpha etc I see as many fold (is there such a word? well, there is now ). One problem is that is has become a "meme" practically every dog owner has heard of:

(A meme (pronounced /miːm/ - rhyming with "dream"), a postulated unit or element of cultural ideas, symbols or practices, gets transmitted from one mind to another through speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena) (Wiki)

It's become so much a part of dog training culture, and the meaning of just exactly what it is has become very confused along the way.

If we use the terms alpha, dominance, etc ethologically (which is really the only way they can be used) then they simply don't make sense, which is one reason I never, now, use the terms, although I used to.

We then had popular dog people such as John Fisher who wrote a book about pack leadership and being alpha and who I think was very influential; what is not so well known is that he, dear man, actually did a U turn about the concept before he sadly died, this is documented in his diary of a dotty dog doctor.

I have lots of respect for JF and think he was amazing to not only write a whole book about this but then to do his U turn and talk about it again

There are also tv personalities worldwide, who talk so much about dominance (and in such an uneducated way) it scares me to think others are actually listening to them. These people are not looking to scientific facts or ethology or domestication, but instead to previous dog training styles and to the "meme".

Another problem is that experts such as some vets (not all by any means) still refer to dominance. One of the main bugbears of the behaviourist at college is that the local vets refer dogs to her calling them "dominant" when, as she says, this is so far from the real situation.

There is a study coming out by Blackwell and Casey regarding dominance in the domestic dog which will be very interesting, the only problem is that such studies are often only published in scientific journals that most peeps don't have access to (and if they did, they would be boggled by some of the language and scientific stuff .. it needs to be explained in plain English).

Anyway I will stop! but just to say that I really liked the excerpt Pidge gave from the book as it says such a lot

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