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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know that the title might trigger some heated debate about the same old "positive VS dominance training", but I do hope that instead of starting another thread that leads to nowhere, this could contribute to better understanding our dogs. I still have lots to learn, and definitely am far from being an expert, so I just hope that I can share this and learn from you guys' feedback. :)

So in the past few days, I've started checking Sophia Yin's website. I liked what I've read so far, and learned more too. Basically, she acknowledges the existence of dominance in animals, but stated how people often misunderstood what it really is, and what dog behavior is really dominant or not. Also, she stated why dominance training might work but isn't reliable and how there are better ways to achieve results too, and the way she stated it made a lot of sense.

Basically, dominance is about establishing a rank between pack members through physically (force/aggression) and psychologically, in which the members of the higher ranks has priority when accessing resources (food, sex mates, sleeping place, and so on).

But before going on this deeper, I want to talk about another thing I've checked too - a documentary in National Geographic called "A Man Among Wolves". This is a very interesting documentary, in which it showed how a guy took 3 orphan baby wolves and raised them, and lived as a wolf in this pack.
Dominance/leadership was a very important thing in the pack. The guy had to maintain his leader role when relating with the wolves, and they were submissive towards him, since he assumed the parental role. Interestingly, once he had to separate from the pack for 2 weeks (he never separated from them for more than a few hours before), the rank of the members suffered changes, with another wolf having assumed the leadership and so that when he came back, he had to be submissive and lost his privileges to resources (had to eat after everyone).

But well... the reason I'm mentioning this is coz I want to talk about why we can't simply compare wolves with dogs. Coz dogs, even thought dominance could exist between them, is not comparable. And I think that an important fact to consider is simply coz dogs are much more docile than wolves. Dominance is related to how aggressive a specie could be, so that you can't have much dominance potential if you don't have enough aggressiveness.
Also, although both wolves and dogs are pack/social animals that can form interdependency, attachment and rank between each other of the same pack, their "lifestyle" are very different from each other. Dogs had to learn other ways to survive between humans, like being more appeasing and docile, and not resort to aggression to get what they want. Fighting over resources between dogs might assure who gets more food, but it certainly doesn't work with humans, that the more docile dogs would have more chance to survive between humans (so that through time and various generations, they end up more docile).

Also, another aspect that this documentary as shown proved another point that Sophia Yin mentioned, which is a very important fact - a relationship that is more based on dominance might not be stable. The moment you can't maintain the rank through force, your position might be challenged. And the more aggressive and confident an animal is, the more he is likely to challenge you. Dogs might be more docile than wolves, but it's still possible that they could challenge you and get what they want when you can't reinforce anymore.


Before going any further, I just want to tell that my current philosophy is that I prefer PR but still use correction when I feel that it's necessary for some behavior to stop and when I don't know a PR way to deal with it. Also, I do believe that corrections, when well implemented does work (repressed behavior can indeed extinct/change), and doesn't really damage a dog, coz everyone (humans and dogs) is biologically prepared to learn from negative experiences that they don't get traumatized, unless the correction (whether implemented by someone or by nature/life itself) is harsh.

But well, why is PR better? Simply coz if you have method A (positive) and B (correction) that has the same efficiency in dealing with the same situation for an undesired behavior, A would be better coz:
- PR will always increase the bond between handler/dog;
- PR can change the underlying feeling/association a dog has towards something (for example, using PR to deal with a dog that has fear aggression towards other people can make him start liking them instead of just stop acting aggressive);
- PR makes a dog more willing to comply and more confident;
- you don't have to worry about being physically apt to maintain the leadership in case a dog is stubborn, coz the leadership is maintained by how your dog is attracted and willing to work for you.

There's a documentary I remember seeing some time ago, that showed how dogs, through evolution, are much more capable to respond to human motion ad language than wolves. Basically, they tried to test this by seeing how a pup and a wolf reacts to a human moving and talking, and they concluded that dogs are more attentive and reactive, while the wolf just don't care at all or not sure what to do.

So since dogs are much more docile, and more able to learn and adapt through other ways besides dominance, whether dominance occurs in dogs or not, we can usually resort to non-dominance way to train them and become leader. Of course I'm not very experienced and I'm just an average owner, but I just think that a dog's capacity to follow humans submissively has been a key for their survival, so that they generally tend to follow rather than becoming dominant like wolves could. So with dogs that are more docile, usually we can establish our leadership through the control of resources, and this is specially true if we raise a dog since they are very young (note that wolves also tend to see their parents as leaders naturally coz they are used to follow them and get resources from them since young, so that the rank is established by habit).


Anyways, I hope that I'm able to transmit what I wanted to say, and that what I wrote isn't very confuse. :) I hope that you guys can give me feedback to reach a better understanding too, since I'm still very green and trying to learn more, so that I can understand dogs, as well as my pup better.
 

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Dominance is not defined as you state, the same by everyone

The most common def for the use in dog, is its premier access to RESOURCES. As in the animals that get that best access is dominant. You need not be forceful to be dominant


That said. The humans control ALL the resources. And access too them

Thus the owner is always dominate

Which makes anything about dominace moot


And a note to all. If this gets heated. It will be closed. Lolcats notwithstadig
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Dominance is not defined as you state, the same by everyone

The most common def for the use in dog, is its premier access to RESOURCES. As in the animals that get that best access is dominant. You need not be forceful to be dominant


That said. The humans control ALL the resources. And access too them

Thus the owner is always dominate

Which makes anything about dominace moot


And a note to all. If this gets heated. It will be closed. Lolcats notwithstadig
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The definition of dominance I wrote is derived from Sophia Yin's definition:

In animal behavior, dominance is defined as a relationship between individuals that is established through force, aggression and submission in order to establish priority access to all desired resources (food, the opposite sex, preferred resting spots, etc). A relationship is not established until one animal consistently defers to another.
In species where strong hierarchies exist, this hierarchy is important evolutionarily because having a high rank confers a greater ability pass on one's genes.

Source (I forgot to include in my first post):
The Dominance Controversy | Philosophy | Dr. Sophia Yin, DVM, MS


When it comes to dogs, dominance can exist between them when at least one of a group of dogs is more aggressive/dominant. And if there are more than one, then they can fight for gaining priority access to the available resources, 'till one acknowledges the other as stronger and therefore gives up the access to the resources whenever the other wants it.
But of course, when it comes to parent-child relationships, parent dogs usually have established their leadership without resorting to aggression, since the children are used to see them as leaders for being the resource providers since they are young.



But what I wanted to say in my original post is that in the human-dog relationship, the leadership can be established as simply controlling the resource without force, which actually changes the way dogs acts in packs, when forming a pack with humans.


IMO, it's important to acknowledge that dominance do exist and how it really works, and then how humans actually doesn't have to resort the traditional dominance way to become the leader, and then how it actually conditions the behavior of dogs through time (dogs learn that to get the resources they want, they have to follow humans' lead and aggression is not needed).
 

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When it comes to dogs, dominance can exist between them when at least one of a group of dogs is more aggressive/dominant. And if there are more than one, then they can fight for gaining priority access to the available resources, 'till one acknowledges the other as stronger and therefore gives up the access to the resources whenever the other wants it.
I kinda think that you're not understanding the definition of dominance correctly...
Many animals do take control of resources with force, however force is not needed.
"Dominant" only means that an animal has control of a resource and that another "submitted" or does not have control of said resource.

And even if dominance does exhist in dogs, it would be fluid and change.
For example, were I to toss pieces of chicken on the ground in my house, no single dog would always get the chicken. The dog who grabbed it would be "dominant" at that moment, while the others were "submissive." But chances are the next time I tossed a piece of chicken a different dog would get it thus it would now be "dominant".
And even if one dog did always get the chicken, it would not control all other resources. Perhaps it wouldn't be the first dog out the door, wouldn't be the first to choose a toy, or wouldn't always have the most comfortable place to nap. ;)
Dogs are individuals. Each values certain resources more highly than other resources and what they value can change from day to day.
*They do not have a rigid social hierarchy and they typically resolve issues (who gets what) without aggression!:)

Furthermore, because of the definition of dominance and submission, "Dominant" and "submissive" really cannot be used to describe a dog's personality or temperament!

Plus dogs know that we are not dogs, so why would they even consider us as part of their "canine pack"?

Check out this thread for tons of links that really cover Dominance well.
http://www.dogforum.com/dog-training/dominance-dogs-4076/
Here are some additional sources! The first 2 are recent articles by Pat Miller and Patricia McConnell which are very easy to read and understand!
http://www.whole-dog-journal.com/issues/14_12/features/Alpha-Dogs_20416-1.html
http://www.thebark.com/content/down-dominance
http://www.theotherendoftheleash.com/the-concept-formerly-described-as-dominance
http://www.whole-dog-journal.com/issues/14_12/features/Alpha_20415-1.html
Debunking Dominance Theory | Karen Pryor Clickertraining
http://www.apdt.com/petowners/choose/dominance.aspx

But what I wanted to say in my original post is that in the human-dog relationship, the leadership can be established as simply controlling the resource without force, which actually changes the way dogs acts in packs, when forming a pack with humans.

IMO, it's important to acknowledge that dominance do exist and how it really works, and then how humans actually doesn't have to resort the traditional dominance way to become the leader, and then how it actually conditions the behavior of dogs through time (dogs learn that to get the resources they want, they have to follow humans' lead and aggression is not needed).
Because of what I mentioned above, dominance really has no bearing on training! It doesn't really tell you anything that can be used to train desirable behaviors or to stop undesirable behavior.
It does not explain why certain techniques work, while others fail! Learning Theory does! "Dominance" based trainers, whether they now it or not, are still using Learing Theory. ;)
animal learning definitions clicker training and dog training definitions

As for why +R is better...
All the "Dominance" based trainer is doing is punishing undersirable behavior. They purposely set the dog up for failure just to punish it. They do not teach a dog what to do, only what not to do. This style of training leads to many issues.
Read this.
http://www.dogforum.com/dog-training/suppression-modification-shutdown-fallout-4776/

+R trainers reward desirable behavior to increase frequency, while ignoring/not rewarding undesirable behavior to decrease frequency. They teach dogs what they should do inplace of a certain behavior!
This is all done with out force and intimidation, thus we do not have to worry about issues such as suppression, shutdown, and fallout being caused by our training methods!;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I kinda think that you're not understanding the definition of dominance correctly...
Many animals do take control of resources with force, however force is not needed.
"Dominant" only means that an animal has control of a resource and that another "submitted" or does not have control of said resource.

And even if dominance does exhist in dogs, it would be fluid and change.
For example, were I to toss pieces of chicken on the ground in my house, no single dog would always get the chicken. The dog who grabbed it would be "dominant" at that moment, while the others were "submissive." But chances are the next time I tossed a piece of chicken a different dog would get it thus it would now be "dominant".

Furthermore, because of the definition of dominance and submission, "Dominant" and "submissive" really cannot be used to describe a dog's personality or temperament!

Check out this thread for tons of links that really cover Dominance well.
http://www.dogforum.com/dog-training/dominance-dogs-4076/
Here are some additional sources! The first 2 are recent articles by Pat Miller and Patricia McConnell which are very easy to read and understand!
http://www.whole-dog-journal.com/issues/14_12/features/Alpha-Dogs_20416-1.html
http://www.thebark.com/content/down-dominance
The Concept Formerly Described as “Dominance” TheOtherEndoftheLeash
http://www.whole-dog-journal.com/issues/14_12/features/Alpha_20415-1.html
Debunking Dominance Theory | Karen Pryor Clickertraining
http://www.apdt.com/petowners/choose/dominance.aspx
I see! So what you mean is that one becomes dominant the moment he has control over a resource, while others that couldn't have control over this resource are considered submissive? But it does and doesn't seem to make sense this way. :confused: If this definition is the right one, then if we have two dogs, then their dominant/submissive status towards each other would always change, depending on whoever gets the treat when a person tosses it on the ground in a certain moment?

So maybe the definition of dominance is more in relation of the elements (dogs/humans) towards a resource in a moment (so that we say whoever holds this resource becomes temporarily dominant - and so no one is dominant or submissive when there are no resources in a moment), rather than about how they are "categorized" amongst each other (whoever generally has privileges over resources in the group)??

But I still think that Sophia Yin's definition, as well as Wikipedia's one ( Dominance (ethology) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ) seem to make more sense. :confused:

To be honest, definitions are so confusing! But I really want to know what's the right definition, so I will check those link you gave me. :)
I know that you guys are more experienced and have certainly read a lot, so please be patient with me (maybe my questions are actually very noobish lol) so that I can reach the light bulb!
 

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Well, I don't know how this applies to the idea of dominance, but in our house, Tessa certainly can control Josey with the invisible light sabers that come out of her eye balls.

Or maybe they are lighting bolts. Anyway, she just has to look at him a certain way and he defers to her wishes: (give me that, leave me in peace, don't bother the cat, etc.)

In any case, what happens between the two of them seems to have little to do with how they each relate to me. Both dogs certainly desire the resources I dole out, be those training treats or my attention. I've long since given up the concept that either one of them tries to "dominate" me in any way. Yes, they try to get may attention, but that is not the same as dominating.

In addition, I have found through experience, than using any form of intimidation with them, even such subtle things as my body posture, or my tone of voice, creates only negatives for them and for their learning and cooperation. Since I gave all that up, and do the exact opposite, that is try to be as non threatening as possible, they learn faster, are much more relaxed, and have become downright joyous much of the time.

Not sure how all that applies to the ongoing discussion.... just sharing my experience and observations.
 

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in theory, humans by definition will always be "dominant" - we are the ones that conrtol (buy) their food/treats, we chose if they breed, we chose what toys they get, and IMO sleeping places isn't really something to do with "dominance".. we have cows, and cows have "dominance", but no cow will randomly go up to another cow and force them away just so they can sleep there.

Anyway, technically when the trwat is thrown on the ground - it doesn't make that dog anymore dominant then the other, since they didn't control where that little piece of chicken dropped in the first place - it was the human who tossed it. Maybe they tossed it closer to one dog then to the other? It doesn't make that dog more dominant, it just means that dog was closer to the treat and therefor got it first. You know?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Tess, by the way I guess that I've got to discover Sophia Yin's link coz you've posted in on some other post. :D

Your case can confirm that humans are able to become the leader without resorting to the traditional domination way. Dogs have great adapting capacity, that when we resort to PR mostly, they learn that we are the source of their wanted resources, and that they can get what they want by good behaviors. With PR, we can even condition a usually aggressive dog to eventually stop aggressive behaviors not coz he suppresses it, but coz he will learn that another way (following handler's lead) works the best to get him what he wants.
 

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I did not say you were misquoting her. I said not everyone defines it that way

Yin is well respected BUT has done a few things over the years to make the greater community as a whole, well...'cringe quite frankly. That definition is one of those things

Force is not required. It looks like kmes covered that pretty well though
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Yeah. :D

I did not say you were misquoting her. I said not everyone defines it that way

Yin is well respected BUT has done a few things over the years to make the greater community as a whole, well...'cringe quite frankly. That definition is one of those things

Force is not required. It looks like kmes covered that pretty well though
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I've only read some articles on her website, and she seems in favor of PR, but what do you mean by she having done things to make the greater community as a whole cringe??
 

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Sheep, here are two quotes that I like that describe/define dominance. Everyone seems to have a different definition for dominance, which is really the cause of so much confusion and debate when discussing this subject!
I am hoping that these help you as well as others to better understand what dominance really means!:)

The simple definition of ‘dominance,’ as the term is used by the general public is something like: “control or command over others.” However, (and this is a huge “however”) that is NOT the definition as the term is used by people who study animal behavior, the ones who first coined the term to describe a certain kind of social relationship in non-human animals. In ethological terms, “dominance” refers to “priority access to a preferred, limited resource“. In other words, if there’s only one really great table open at a restaurant, who is going to get it? You, or the famous actress standing beside you?
The Concept Formerly Described as “Dominance” TheOtherEndoftheLeash
One of the biggest misconceptions we find ourselves faced with is the definition of "dominance." Dogs are often described as being "dominant" which is an incorrect usage of the term. Dominance is not a personality trait. Dominance is "primarily a descriptive term for relationships between pairs of individuals." and moreover, "the use of the expression 'dominant dog' is meaningless, since "dominance" can apply only to a relationship between individuals. (Bradshaw et al., 2009) Dominance comes into play in a relationship between members of the same species when one individual wants to have the first pick of available resources such as food, beds, toys, bones, etc. Even between dogs, however, it is not achieved through force or coercion but through one member of the relationship deferring to the other peacefully. In many households the status of one dog over another is fluid; in other words, one dog may be the first to take his pick of toys, but will defer to the other dog when it comes to choice of resting places. Dogs that use aggression to "get what they want" are not displaying dominance, but rather anxiety-based behaviors, which will only increase if they are faced with verbal and/or physical threats from their human owners. Basing one's interaction with their dog on dominance is harmful to the dog-human relationship and leads to further stress, anxiety and aggression from the dog, as well as fear and antipathy of the owner.
Dominance and Dog Training
 

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She uses ecollars and booby traps to train a few things and her methods for reactve dogs are not smiled on by everyone.

Yin uses all four quadrants. Her goal is what works fastest, more than anything imo :)
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She uses ecollars and booby traps to train a few things and her methods for reactve dogs are not smiled on by everyone.

Yin uses all four quadrants. Her goal is what works fastest, more than anything imo :)
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Interesting! Did not know all of that!:)
 

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Oh my... I sure wish Crio had a keyboard so she could explain more. I am so curious now!

Donaldson not being positive... when?

Yin, using all 4 quadrants?

Maybe a linky dink? A book recommend? I am in seeking sequence mode!
 

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I cant link but there is a video of donaldson yanking a reactive dog around
Oh Dear! Wonder why she did that?

and one of yin boobytrapping a counter for a jrt
OK, well I have to confess to that myself, in my previous incarnation, put a couple of mousetraps under newspaper on my dresser. Two tries, and Tessa stopped stealing things from my dresser. Of course the dresser-stuff-stealing activity was my own fault, as I had inadvertently reinforced it. Anyway, this is all before I really learned a lot of stuff from you guys here. I"m sure there would be better ways to 1) prevent the problem or 2) fix it more positively.
 

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Basically, dominance is about establishing a rank between pack members through physically (force/aggression) and psychologically, in which the members of the higher ranks has priority when accessing resources (food, sex mates, sleeping place, and so on).
But she also notes that his is only valid in species with strong hierarchies, so even among wolves it is not really relevant.

Among other animals, dominance is context dependent.


But before going on this deeper, I want to talk about another thing I've checked too - a documentary in National Geographic called "A Man Among Wolves". This is a very interesting documentary, in which it showed how a guy took 3 orphan baby wolves and raised them, and lived as a wolf in this pack.
If it's Shaun Ellis, you should pretty much ignore just about everything that guy says.

Dominance is related to how aggressive a specie could be, so that you can't have much dominance potential if you don't have enough aggressiveness.
This is not true. Aggressiveness is not really related to dominance. The only issue is one of comparison, not absoluteness. What matters is that A>B and not |A| or |B|, though we should note motivation plays a big factor so those that have multi-dog homes often notice under X, A>B>C but under Y B>C>A
 
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