Dog Forum banner

1 - 7 of 7 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
31 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I'm specifically wondering about two behaviors that I often hear attributed to "dominance" and "submissiveness": 1. placing paws on another dog's back and 2. showing their belly to another dog. I tend to just think of these as play behaviors but is there a more specific reason that dogs do this that I could tell people who are labeling mine and their dogs as dominant/submissive?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,034 Posts
Correcting beliefs is a tough road. I think that if you become friendly with people you could certainly discuss dog behavior, but otherwise, just telling people that your beliefs are correct and theirs are not (they may tell you that their beliefs are correct and yours are not) is probably not going to promote an epiphany for them.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
31 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Well I guess I mean, does anyone know if anything that those behaviors are communicating beyond just being play behaviors? I'm curious myself as well as interested in educating those that seem open to listening to what I believe.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
501 Posts
Curious...what do YOU believe?

Dominance and submissiveness behaviors and tendencies exist across all species, including Humans...not to say that can't be changed but to say it does not exist is a stretch.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,222 Posts
I keep hearing this dominance thing doesn't exist - but yet dogs can be very submissive. Can't have one without the other. There are people that fear their own dogs - you don't consider a dog like that dominant? Dominant is defined as most important, powerful, or influential.

Call it a pack, family, team - whatever - someone or something has to lead and others have to follow. Our pup is pretty powerful, but he gravitates toward her cause I am the dominant one - he protects her - sorry, he slips up once in a while and tries to protect her as his own. That only lasts for so long before he realizes it move or be sat on, I don't play that game.

I want a dog that is neither dominant nor submissive - I want a dog that I can respect and get the same in return. I want fearless, not dominant - there's a big difference.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,885 Posts
Dominance is defined in ethology (animal behavior) as "having or being in control of a given resource". It's not a dictionary definition. Among social groups, those who have dominance and submissiveness vary. Rarely is one creature in control of all the resources (food, water, toys, mates, personal space, friends) at one time. That would be a huge waste of their energy. I walk a 120 lb rottie who can shove anyone out of the way for a treat if he wants to. He had to be taught to wait because in spite of being a very mellow guy, he didn't realize that he was squashing and scattering everyone else when I was trying to reward the group for a behavior. In the case of treats I would say that if it was a free for all, he would be the dominant guy without even really trying.

If I'm holding a tennis ball, I don't have to mediate his behavior. He isn't enthusiastic about them. He is he last dog to come trotting over and the slowest one to chase it. Maybe some dog whisperers would peg him for a "dominant" dog, but he sure isn't in that situation.

Lastly, if space is the resource at hand, he will back down every time. He is much happier to give a dog their space than is he to engage them in a fight or challenge them. Again, not domimant over space.

That is how I try and explain it to people. Dominance varies from resource to resource and dog to dog. There is no linear pecking order. We, as the humans, are the only ones motivated to be dominant all the time, because we believe too much is what we watch on TV :)

ETA a huge myth is that dominance is the cause of bad behaviors. "My dog peed on my shoes because he is marking them as his". No. Not really. Give your dog a pee-covered shoe and see how much he enjoys it. Not much, if he can't chew on it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
884 Posts
No one likes a lecture, so unless it's a natural part of the conversation, I wouldn't recommend going there.
Also, those sample behaviours can mean different things in different context.
Paw on the back can be mutual lovely play, or precursor to a fight.
Rolling on back, play, or OMG Please Don't Hurt Me I'm just a helpless puppy!
Nothing is simple.

And in a general conversation, most people are using the regular (non behavioural science) definition of dominance-power and influence over others. Sometimes a single word has multiple meanings so you need to start the conversation with an agreed upon definition.
 
1 - 7 of 7 Posts
Top