Dogs and social behaviour

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Dogs and social behaviour

This is a discussion on Dogs and social behaviour within the Training and Behavior Stickies forums, part of the Dog Training and Behavior category; If anyone could help me this would be awesome. My question: what are dogs? What is a dogs social behaviour/structure based around? I dunno if ...

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Old 06-30-2011, 01:54 PM
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Dogs and social behaviour

If anyone could help me this would be awesome. My question: what are dogs? What is a dogs social behaviour/structure based around? I dunno if I'm sounding complicated -I'm trying to word things right, so sorry if I'm being complicated...

I grew up being taught that dogs are pack animals - like wolves. However as I did more research I found info that said that dogs are actually more like scavengers and more independent - since having to share food would be a disadvantage in this case.

I also wonder why do dogs do the things they do when with other dogs?
Why are some dogs so dog agressive - is it genetics, the fact that they didn't recieve much socialization, or that they were taken from their litter too early?
Why do dogs hump other dogs - do they consider this fun, are they trying to get the other dogs attention? (as well as the fact that it is a life skill )
Why do some dogs bully certain dogs and not others?
What makes a dog tick? Is it another dogsbugging em, something in the enviroment, or perhaps instincts gone wrong?
What exactly is "dominance"? What roll does it play in a dogs social behaviour. Why is it often thought that dogs are trying to "dominated" others (dogs/people) while they could actually be playing?

I just would really like to undertsand a dogs behaviour in general a bit more... Especially so called "pack" behaviour...

Last edited by Blue pup; 06-30-2011 at 01:57 PM.
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Old 06-30-2011, 04:38 PM
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ugh I wish I had a computer and not a phone to answer you. Lol its just too much to do on a phone
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Old 06-30-2011, 06:58 PM
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ugh I wish I had a computer and not a phone to answer you. Lol its just too much to do on a phone
Ditto this.
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Old 06-30-2011, 09:00 PM
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No worries, I can wait
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Old 07-01-2011, 04:31 PM
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finally i got my computer up and running so i can reply to this.

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what are dogs?
this is a pretty general question that could go in a lot of different directions, so i cant really answer that too well.
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What is a dogs social behaviour/structure based around?
how they are raised for the most part. if you have a dog who is 6yrs old and never been around or played with other dogs, theyre most likely not going to behave as appropriately (or at all) as a dog who has been around other dogs their entire lives and learned what is and is not appropriate social behavior. as much as dogs come with a certain amount of "hard wiring", there is tons about social behavior that they need to learn by being around other dogs. such as when another dog has had enough and are giving them warnings. this is something you see at the early puppyhood stage.... puppies push the buttons of older adult dogs and seem to ignore their warnings (growling, avoiding the puppy, etc) that say they have had enough. a well socialized adult will proceed to give the pup a good warning, good being that they may snap and growl at the pup, but they do not harm the pup- just scare it. an adult who lacks social skills may bite and hurt the pup right away. and this is where a pup will learn "ok that means they dont really want to play with me anymore" and learn to stop their behavior at this point. just an example of learning appropriate social skills.
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I grew up being taught that dogs are pack animals - like wolves. However as I did more research I found info that said that dogs are actually more like scavengers and more independent - since having to share food would be a disadvantage in this case.
i agree with this. BUT i do think there is a certain level of pack mentality held in their hard wiring. here is an example: a group of 30 dogs at daycare. a fight breaks out between two of them, the effect? when you watch this its like all the dogs are pieces of metal and the fight is a giant magnet that was just turned on. the dogs swarm to the fight an all put in cheap shots and try to get in on it. same as if a dog screams in pain in a group of dogs, they all rush to it and attack it. theres just an example of that pack mentality that seems to be somewhere in their brain.

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I also wonder why do dogs do the things they do when with other dogs?
same as above. socialization or lack of. genetics and breed play into it. you will see boxers who will jump and play with their paws "boxing" another dog, which is just how boxers play... now you may have an aussie on the recieving end of that who would rather run than rough house and become angered by this style of play. hard wiring and fixed action patterns also play into social behavior.
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Why are some dogs so dog agressive - is it genetics, the fact that they didn't recieve much socialization, or that they were taken from their litter too early?
usually its not that they were taken from their litter too early. this typically ends up in poor bite inhabition, fear issues, etc. not so much dog aggression. genetics do play a role. i hate to use this as an example but its a good one at this point: say you have a pit bull who is from fighting lines. the pedigree is all dogs who have faught. you have a high chance of that dog being dog aggressive because its in the hard wiring of that dog. i hate using pits as an example, but its just an easy one to understand. lack of socialization can play a role, but its not so much that the lack is what causes the aggression. the lack can cause inappropriate play leading to constant bad expieriences when playing with other dogs (dogs always get annoyed and correct that dog, fights begin because the dog ignores the warnings of other dogs, etc.) now that dog begins to be on the defense when around other dogs because nothing good ever happens to him, and from there the aggression (which really is fear) builds. one bad expierience with another dog can also trigger that: *enter stage left, my dog Chloe.* she was a well rounded pup, played well with ALL dogs, happy, great social skills. one beagle attacked her. she didnt fight back, and he just kept going... he left punctures on her muzzle and ears... from then on, my dog is dog aggressive. its not that she hates other dogs and just feels the need to rip them apart, but its a fear. shes scared the dog will hurt her, and what runs through her mind is "i have to get them before they get me".
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Why do dogs hump other dogs - do they consider this fun, are they trying to get the other dogs attention? (as well as the fact that it is a life skill )
its a fixed action pattern thats for sure. you mentioned that so im sure youre aware of the connection of FAPs and playing. another thing is that its a way to release energy while playing. like barking, running, etc. everything a dog does when it plays is releasing a certain amount of energy.
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Why do some dogs bully certain dogs and not others?
this i dont know how to really answer.....
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What makes a dog tick? Is it another dogsbugging em, something in the enviroment, or perhaps instincts gone wrong?
it depends on the dog. some dogs are very soft and dont really get mad... like my Lexi. she can be annoyed to no end with a dog whos not reading her signals correctly, and she will just stand there, head hung low looking at me to remove the dog. she just doesnt react. some dogs react from seeing other dogs reacting, etc. its individual to the dog.
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What exactly is "dominance"? What roll does it play in a dogs social behaviour. Why is it often thought that dogs are trying to "dominated" others (dogs/people) while they could actually be playing?
i dont hear so much anymore that a dog is trying to dominate another one. i hear more of dogs being "aggressive" when they are just playing (ex: your vocal players are sometimes percieved as aggressive when they are just playing) while i dont believe in dog/human dominance, i do believe there is dog/dog dominance, but i dont see it often. dominance is just really a social ranking, but even looking at true pack animals (like wolves) that ranking is not permanent. its ever changing. i dont think dominance is easily defined, its not about what dog goes through the door first, or guarding toys, or who plays on top or on bottom. i think dominance between dogs is few and far between. in daycare i have dogs who want to correct the other dogs and police them all. most people call them dominant, i dont. i see an ego trip or a dog who thinks their helping and doing a job. but thats just how i feel about dominance in dogs. im no scientist or anything, i just can only say what i see.


well... i hope this helps you a little... and i hope i was right about SOMETHING in there lol
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Old 07-01-2011, 07:17 PM
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Thanks! It did help thank you! It's just that I work at a boarding place and I was hopping to understand "pack dynamics" a bit more - since my boss kinda just likes to blame everything on "dominance" (she's the worlds biggest cesar fan......), and I was looking for better answer then that.
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Old 07-01-2011, 07:45 PM
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this is something i always always tell my new hires. there is nothing about being a "pack" in any kind of daycare situation. these dogs are not a pack and have no pack dynamics. daycare is an unnatural situation for dogs. they dont live together, new dogs come in at any time, and typically dogs are not even pack dogs. its just throwing a bunch of dogs together and hoping to intervene in disagreements between dogs before they escelate into a fight. thats all. nothing more. like i said there is the hard wiring with dogs that causes them to, actually its called "pack up" on other dogs (dog screaming in pain, fight breaks out, etc.) but other than that, there is no pack at all. there is no rank, no territorial ownership, nothing.
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Old 07-01-2011, 08:05 PM
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Ya - makes sense. My boss is really mis-informed. I have no idea what to do with that. I would really love to quit she's so bad, but then I think that soon I'll be allowed myself with the new kid (which knows me very well from school) and we can give a better enviroment for the dogs then my boss who is really mean... I mean, she always blames the dogs for everything, if the dogs bite her she blames the owners for no training her while the dog was actually in fear and giving her tones of warning signs...ect...

I was actually going to email her as a "customer" with lot's of dogs and I needed to go somewhere..ect... and ask loads of questions about things like that...ect... and ask who her idol trainer is...ect... and when she responds depending on her response I can blow her off and and say how cruel she is and that she knows nothing about dogs & give tones of links. I mean she incourages BYB... Like OMG! They are anty purebreed because one poodle has sever allergies and needs a lot of meds - and they encourage breeding mixes! Like seriously!!!! I dunno, this is the main reason I was looking for info. I just really wanted to understand dogs behaviour better in these situations..
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Old 07-01-2011, 10:21 PM
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reality is that dog behavior has been studied so little compared to other animals, that we actual don't know much about their behavior/communication. personally, i think that is why outdated ideas, based on superstition, rather than valid study, remain so prevalent. ideas that everything is based on dominance, and the arguments used to support dominance theory in training and explaining dog behavior are mostly based in superstition, IMO... it's easy to find support for what you believe if that is what you look for.
i agree with most of what GDM said, good answers. the only thing i would change is that i think the example of "pack mentality" is better termed "mob mentality" in her examples and it is a behavior you see in all sorts of animals, humans included. i don't think what she had to say was "wrong" per say, just semantics, which in this case i find important since the word "pack" is used WAY too often. a wolf pack is actually a family group, who live and hunt together. Wolf Facts - Wolf Pack the "alpha" animals are actually a mated pair and the rest of the members, their offspring. dogs do not behave this way (there may be some breeds who might tend to occasionally, or hybrids who do so, but i don't know of any, and i would think it is very rare) the limited studies of wild/feral dogs suggest that dogs form really loose bonds or friendships with each other, nothing more. mating behavior is a sort of love em and leave em kind of thing, and yes, they are mostly scavengers.
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Why do some dogs bully certain dogs and not others?
same reason some people will bully certain people and not others, they are all individuals lol, that is how i see it anyway, and based on all the info i've read...hope it helps oh, and i'm reading "how to behave so your dog behaves" by sophia yin, she has a whole section of the book where she explains how to set up your own behavior study with your dogs, you should check it out!
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Old 07-02-2011, 04:13 AM
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Hmm interesting (even though I didn't start the thread). Blue pup that's a good idea emailing the boss pretending to be a customer (so long as you use an email the boss doesn't know you have). Maybe even a couple months after that, email from another email, as a different customer with similar questions (of course the questions would have to be a bit different, you'd have to sound a bit different and the response would have to be a bit different). Having more then one 'customer' turn him down might help him out a bit.
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