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Old 01-13-2013, 02:08 PM   #26
areteus
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My puppy paws us. He learned scratching the back door makes us open it, so he's just generalized it to everything else he wants. We've spent ages trying to teach him to use his voice instead and tell us, but he's just a quiet boy (as long as there aren't any squirrels around). The other one talks all the time, though.
Yeah, Eddie has learned to lift his paw as a request for a treat. He won't speak for anything (though if he thinks we have left food on the workbench in the kitchen that by rights belongs to him he will bark for it... we've been trying to stop him doing that by throwing the food away as soon as he barks - teaching him that barking does not get what he wants - but it doesn't work all that well...).

One thing to consider about a situation like this, however, is to use it to your advantage. Rather than try to train a dog to do something they don't want to do, modify something that they already do and stick with that. When we realised that Eddie lifts his paw for a treat, we modified that to a 'gimme five' when we hold our hands out to him. So now, when we give him a treat, we hold out our hands for a paw slap so he can earn his treat. Works well for us.

Another thing to consider is to find out what your dog is fixated on and use that for training. Some dogs are food fixated, others toy fixated. The goal is to work them towards being praise fixated but that is a long hard road...

And some dogs are just mercenary bastards who refuse to do anything unless they see the 'money' up front...
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Old 01-15-2013, 05:43 AM   #27
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About that boss dog thing

Hi, I log on and post here very sporadically. My wife and I rescued a feral cat (Leo) a couple of months ago who was trouble at first, but he is coming around. Our other cat (Merry) is a rescue too. We've had dogs in the past.

I was taught to let the dog know who is boss. Dogs have different ways to show a dominant personality over their owners. Even something so simple as a dog's not listening is kind of like the dog saying, "So that's what I think of YOU!" It looks cute, but it is really the dog showing dominance over the owner. I was taught that a submissive dog will roll over on their back and show their throat to acknowledge they are submissive, and that one way to deal with a dog that thinks it's dominant over you is to put dog in that position and (gently) put your hand on their throat and hold them there. Maybe a few times a day. I wouldn't try it near the food dish with this dog, but maybe when the dog is friendly and playing. It might not work, but I have done it in the past with dogs and it seemed to change them for the better. The idea is not to be mean, or forceful, but to "assume a position" that the animal interprets as you being in charge.

Best.
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Old 01-15-2013, 07:37 AM   #28
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We do that when ours are particularly naughty. It doesn't hurt them, but it forces them to calm down and puts them in a submissive position so they start listening again.
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Old 01-15-2013, 02:39 PM   #29
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We have to do that as well... Eddie is a fox terrier and they have a very dominant personality as a breed (as well as an intelligence and cunning, they were bred to fight foxes after all...) and alpha rolling him is often the only way to get him to stop misbehaving sometimes.

Not all dogs are like this, some are very submissive naturally.

One thing to consider though is that alpha rolling is not always a good idea for all cases. Some dogs do not respond well to it (and may get more aggressive) so you do need to be careful with it. It is also very easy to step over the line from 'displaying dominance' to 'being abusive' and it is the latter which often leads to the 'alpha pack' theory being criticised. It is not the theory which is at fault but the mistaken application of it...
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Old 01-15-2013, 03:10 PM   #30
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Areteus,

Sounds like you guys already know about that trick. I didn't know it was called alpha-rolling, that's cool to know.

Yes, some dogs don't like it at all, but that's an important clue to how the dog sees itself in the hierarchy of life. The dog really does think it's boss, and doesn't want to be put in a submissive position. My take is that on that kind of behavior is that it is more important than ever to straighten out who is in charge. The dog is telling you loudly and clearly that it thinks it is dominant over you.

I believe that animals understand us when we talk to them. I remembered last night after posting here that I used to talk to my dogs while I had them down. I would explain, in a calm tone of voice, something like, "You're awesome, Bud, and I love you very much, but you do NOT give orders around here, you are NOT in charge, I am, you do NOT bite around the food dish, you do NOT growl," etc. Everywhere there are caps I would not only raise my voice a little bit, but give the dog a firm little shake with the hand that was on its throat. I was always strong enough to control my dogs, even if they wriggled and squirmed a little bit.

I know, I know, I'm making it sound like it always works, and it doesn't, but I think it's worth a try. If a dog wouldn't let me control it like that, and tried to bite, I would call in a professional trainer.

We have a kitty now was on his own outside for a long time. He is learning how to live with people and another cat. Sometimes it's a struggle. But once you take on the animal, you're in forever.

EDIT: As far as alpha-rolling being abusive to the dog, I don't see it that way, but I never crossed the line. I am a hugger and a kisser with my animals, but I try not to let them think that they are dominant over me. I feel that not training a dog well, especially if that dog interacts with other people, is doing a disservice to the animal. (If I live on my own with the dog, and nobody else ever sees it, the dog's behavior is only my business and the dog's.) If I am squeamish about showing a dog who is in charge, I may be condemning that animal to a substandard life. In extreme cases, a growling or biting animal may be disliked by most or all people that it runs into, or even risk punishment or death, if it bites somebody in the street and has to be put down. A misbehaving animal is not any more cute than a kid swearing at the table or throwing food at guests. I would rather show off a well-trained dog than make apologies for an animal that is bothering people. Granted, like people, some dogs have extremely difficult personalities to deal with, and there isn't much any of us can do. It also goes by breeds. I used to have a dog book that listed degree of dominance over owner as a characteristic of breeds, along with hair color, appearance, etc. Some breeds of dogs have a tendency to exhibit a lot of dominance over their owners, and it is often subtle. Anyway, even if we are uncomfortable in struggling for dominance with dogs, the dogs certainly aren't uncomfortable struggling for dominance with us, they just do it, it's a part of life to them, and some dogs are willing to take charge unless we lay down a few basic ground rules. So it's best to recognize that a struggle for dominance is going on, we can't wish it away, and we need to do our best by the animal by letting it know that it is not dominant in the house. The animal will not be cowed or shy or sad after that, and everyone, the animal, the owner, and the owner's guests, will get along better.
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Old 01-15-2013, 03:55 PM   #31
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That's part of my problem with trainers like Cesar Milan. Other people see him do it and try to do it themselves without understanding thoroughly what he's doing. That just leads to problems for dog and owner.
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Old 01-15-2013, 04:29 PM   #32
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Merry - you seem to have it exactly right. And in most cases it is not abusive but it can become so if used wrong (as Miranda points out...)
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Old 01-15-2013, 04:37 PM   #33
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Did I misspell 'thoroughly'? It doesn't look right....
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Old 01-15-2013, 04:49 PM   #34
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Did I misspell 'thoroughly'? It doesn't look right....
You spelled it right. It's just one of those words that never looks quite right.
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Old 01-15-2013, 04:58 PM   #35
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I'm a real softie with animals. I throw food to pigeons on the roof (they wait for me every morning), that kind of thing. No animal abuse here.
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Old 01-15-2013, 06:28 PM   #36
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That's part of my problem with trainers like Cesar Milan. Other people see him do it and try to do it themselves without understanding thoroughly what he's doing. That just leads to problems for dog and owner.
so you aren't sayingwhat he does is wrong, just that people aren't understanding what he is doing and implementing it wrong?

thanks all for the discussion.
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Old 01-15-2013, 06:34 PM   #37
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so you aren't sayingwhat he does is wrong, just that people aren't understanding what he is doing and implementing it wrong?

thanks all for the discussion.

A little of both. Some dogs he works with do respond to him. But I've also seen dogs whose body language tells me they are obeying due to fear of him. And I, for one, don't want my dog to be scared of me.

But yeah, his method is open to incorrect use. As is every other training method. But CM's can lead to abuse of the dog very easily.
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Old 01-16-2013, 12:36 AM   #38
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What I like about Cesar is the demeanor stuff he encourages. People get freaked out about things like a dog nipping by a food bowl. Nipping should not be allowed, of course, but I think the calm demeanor is important when correcting a dog. If folks get physically upset when a dog misbehaves, they tend to make mistakes with the training due to their emotions, imho.

Some dogs get dangerous if you get upset like that, too! Particularly if there are several dogs together.

Calm and stern and consistent is what I think works best. I do a lot of touching and moving of the dog in general, so I don't actually alpha-roll them, but they know I'm boss (one is very strong and big). Funnily enough, if they've been really bad and I fuss at them (calm, but very stern), they do show their bellies sometimes! I've never intentionally rolled them, so it kind of freaks me out that they know so very well that they've been particularly bad (like stealing part of my to-go food when I'm out of the room. I don't think so!).
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Old 01-16-2013, 02:38 AM   #39
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Particularly if there are several dogs together.
True Story:

I had a dog that got quilled by a porcupine eleven times (fifty or sixty quills each time) in one winter in Massachusetts. The vet asked me if I let her out with another dog, and I said yes. He told me start letting her out by herself, which I did, and she never got quilled again.

I pictured her running into a porcupine alone, checking to see if anybody was looking, then slinking off, thinking, "Phew! I don't have to make it look good this time."
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Old 01-16-2013, 01:08 PM   #40
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Yeah, dogs do show off for each other...

One time we were out with my in laws and their dog, who is a big and placid Golden Retriever who would not hurt a fly (because that would involve too much effort...). Our dog is almost the exact reverse... While in the park, our dog encountered a Rottweiller and a Boxer who were together. Initially things were quite pleasent but then something happened (what we call a 'spilled pint moment' because it was exactly as if someone had knocked over the big builly's drink in a pub) and things got to growling and snarling. We stepped in quickly to intervene because it did look as if, despite the odds being against him massively (small dog alone against two much larger dogs) Eddie was going to stand and fight rather than run away (terriers... they are like many military commanders completely incapable of understanding overwhelming odds... they would probably have led the charge of the light brigade).

The funny thing was that, as well as Eddie clearly showing off by standing up to these dogs (who, I have to say, were not being overly aggressive in any way) but my in laws' dog was also looking like he was going to wade into the fight despite being the fluffiest ball of lazy ever seen.

Another story takes place at the beach. Another dog (female) stole Eddie's ball and ran into the sea with it, deeper than he normally goes (he is a real coward in water, does not like to get his belly wet). She was clearly flirting with him and daring him to come get her and he actually did follow her a lot deeper than he normally wades...

So yes, dogs do show off for each other
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Old 01-16-2013, 03:16 PM   #41
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When I was a kid we had two females and a male. In a 'you looking at me?' situation, they had a system. The male would face the aggressive dog, hackles up and all the rest, the females would circle left and right. And then at a signal I couldn't see, it was back legs, front legs, stand over and snarl.

And it was funny to watch the body language of the interloper because you could see the 'oh shit, I'm in trouble' expression when he realised what was about to happen.

Fascinating to watch pack behaviour in domestic dogs.
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Old 01-16-2013, 10:40 PM   #42
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A little of both. Some dogs he works with do respond to him. But I've also seen dogs whose body language tells me they are obeying due to fear of him. And I, for one, don't want my dog to be scared of me.

But yeah, his method is open to incorrect use. As is every other training method. But CM's can lead to abuse of the dog very easily.
But couldn't any method used incorrectly lead to abuse?
I've watched his show since I got my dog Leela in 2007 and- I honestly don't see dogs fearful of him. Maybe you are picking up on something I'm not. But what I see is a man who is fighting very hard to get people to treat dogs like dogs and not furry humans, and to save dogs from being euthanized for acting like a dog.
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What I like about Cesar is the demeanor stuff he encourages. People get freaked out about things like a dog nipping by a food bowl. Nipping should not be allowed, of course, but I think the calm demeanor is important when correcting a dog. If folks get physically upset when a dog misbehaves, they tend to make mistakes with the training due to their emotions, imho.

Some dogs get dangerous if you get upset like that, too! Particularly if there are several dogs together.

Calm and stern and consistent is what I think works best. I do a lot of touching and moving of the dog in general, so I don't actually alpha-roll them, but they know I'm boss (one is very strong and big). Funnily enough, if they've been really bad and I fuss at them (calm, but very stern), they do show their bellies sometimes! I've never intentionally rolled them, so it kind of freaks me out that they know so very well that they've been particularly bad (like stealing part of my to-go food when I'm out of the room. I don't think so!).
That is very true. I am not good at the calm thing, but one thing I've learned from CM is that I need to be calm. And I see the difference when I am. I've learned that my dogs are a mirror and if I am nervous and anxious, they react. I'd never had a dog until I got Leela in 2007and I was at a loss with her. I read some books and took a class at petsmart, but that only took me so far. When she was a puppy and I would walk her in my neighborhood, we had "dog friends" who came up to us (because my neighbors disobey the AL leash laws) and I would give them treats and she would sniff their butts. Well, i had knee surgery in 2008, and when I started walking her again, she attacked the same dogs. I was just completely dumbfounded and saddened and didn't know what to do. CM talks about energy, and I didn't get it until that point, when I realized I was nervous that my knee would give out on me while we were walking, but she didn't know why I was nervous, she only knew that I was nervous. After that I was able to work on my self, and my confidence, and we got to the point where I felt safe getting more dogs. It's an ongoing process, and I still need to be cautious around unknown dogs, but CM has helped me a lot.

The guy who taught the puppy class we took at petsmart actually said, "walking your dog may be one of those things that you never master." what? then why am I taking this class. He said to hold treats in one hand and hold the leash with the other - all that did was get Leela to look for treats rather than walk and she pulled the rest of the time. But CM says to walk like you own the street and everything you see, and keep your arm relaxed and the leash should be loose, and only tug towards yourself if they get a head or pull. Well I feel like I've mastered the walk! With Leelaand Hoshi anyway (unless there's a cat- work in progress). Still working on the puppy but he's a puppy and everything is so exciting!

this is just one example. He talks about being calm and assertive, and being patient, and consistent. i just don't see how that is abusive. Leela used to jump on me when I was putting on my shoes to walk her. I got her to not jump on me, but she would pace. I shouldn't have, but I accepted it. Then we got Hoshi, andher pacing turned into them wrestling. I decided enough was enough, and I told them to sit. One thing CM said on Dog Whisperer one time was if you only have a half hour to walk and it takes 20 minutes to get the dog to sit and wait at the door, then that is the exercise for the day, you take 20 min then walk 10. THe reason is, dogs learn quickly. So I told them to sit. I started putting on my shoes. They got up. I stopped and corrected them, and waited for them to sit. It did cut into our walk time that day, but the very next day, when I sat down to put on my shoes, they sat the whole time. It was a very calm time, me getting ready to walk the dogs,with Leela and Hoshi laying calmly and watching me get ready, but now we have a puppy again and he is so jumpy I'm having to put him in his crate, but I am confident he'll learn. He's already learned so much.

anyway, I don't know why I feel the need to defend the Dog Whisperer, but I have learned a lot from him.
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Old 01-16-2013, 11:36 PM   #43
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All your examples sound so good, really Puppies are truly harder, imho. They just don't listen the same way, lol. I had one adult dog that was like a puppy, where he was kind of lost in the ozone and didn't pay attention to much, just a clueless sweetie

With puppies, they do learn a lot by watching other dogs, so it's nice if y'all can do that. And moving them and moving their cute little heads helps sometimes to get them to focus a bit I do find that treats can work better for puppies, too, as far as encouraging things like sitting or 'come', etc. More complex training gets hard, because they stare at the treats!

I'm a huge talker to dogs, starting as puppies, btw. I treat them like toddlers in a lot of ways, but they really do understand communication better than folks give them credit for. Lots of times, my dogs just do what I say, in regular English, like toddlers learn what you want. Of course, they are dogs, but don't discount their ability to understand you, either, if you've fostered that since a young age.
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Old 01-17-2013, 12:36 AM   #44
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Oh and they learn things we don't even try and teach them. They know when we're leaving, they know that the TV Click off at night means they go out to pee before bed, the two younger ones have learned I take toys from their mouths before I let them out so now they just drop them at the door even if I don't know they have one, and I think Leela knows the difference between the rustle of a salad bag and a bacon bits bag, I really do.
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Old 01-17-2013, 04:57 AM   #45
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It's very true that dogs pick up on our emotions.

Here in Ecuador there are loose dogs everywhere. Well, that's a lie. They've swept them out of the tourist areas in the center of Quito, but everywhere else. If I walk from my house to the store a couple of blocks away, I may pass 6 or 8 dogs in the street, some which I know, some which I don't. If I walk a couple of miles, I see dozens of them. They run around in packs too, usually of 2 to 4 dogs, sometimes more. Some of the mangiest, grungiest street dogs are purebreds. Our neighbor just took in a stray boxer, that was not much more than a skeleton. The dog already looks much better. Some of the street dogs are fat and healthy.

Anyway, at first the dogs made me nervous, and because I was nervous they barked at me and ran at me, until I realized that the dogs didn't do anything. I'm sure they really bite once in a while, but I've never seen it. Everybody here knows how to shoo them away. The dogs are usually only looking for a spare bread roll.

My nerves have calmed down, and all of a sudden the street dogs are much calmer. Hmmm. It may sound strange, but I think nothing now of walking right in front of a huge unknown dog on the sidewalk, no more than a foot away. I don't even slow down most of the time to gauge the dog's temperament. I think it works because I just don't take the dog as a threat, and the dog picks up on that. But I don't think it can be faked. If I'm scared of the dog, it will know. Same thing for a big dog down the road. Instead of stopping, and taking a step back, which used to make the dogs come after me, I'm like, "Yeah, yeah, whatever, go away," and I just keep walking. Surprisingly, it works.

One of the dangers of loose dogs in the states, I think, is that loose dogs are often escapees and don't have experience with strangers. A loose dog here, even if it is a barker to start with, quickly becomes habituated to crowds. If a true guard dog gets loose here, it can be trouble. But that doesn't happen often.

I don't support loose dogs. I think it's a bad idea. There is a nascent animal rights movement here, mostly young people, something like a humane society. They are educating people to fix and take care of pets. The changes are coming, slowly.

It's dangerous to pet the street dogs, because they do have a thing about their personal space. A lot of them are semi-adopted, where store-owners and the like let them hang around for scraps. They respond to care, if somebody takes them in, like our neighbor. Her dog is friendly now with all of us.
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Old 01-17-2013, 07:11 AM   #46
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Butting in here. =] It sounds like you're making some progress on your own, Sass, and that's wonderful that you're so dedicated to working with this problem.

However. Speaking as someone who works at an animal shelter, I see a lot of dogs who are surrendered for resource guarding issues that were improperly handled by their well-meaning owners. I really, really recommend that you call a certified behaviorist and at least have a chat over the phone. Better yet would be to schedule a few in-home consultations.

It's WORTH the money to prevent someone else from getting hurt. Not only that, you might find it easier to understand and implement certain techniques if they're explained to you in person instead of trying to interpret them from a book. A professional will also be able to point out specific body language/warning signs in your dog that you might not have known the meaning of before. Hell, they're just darn good resources in general.

Please consider this. It sounds like he's already found a wonderful home, and I hate to think of him possibly losing it if he bites someone else.
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Old 01-17-2013, 05:47 PM   #47
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Thanks Accebra- I have looked into getting a behavorist but right now we really don't have money. I did ask my vet for advice and that has helped.
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Old 01-19-2013, 11:28 AM   #48
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Alpha rolling is an outdated and dangerous training method, and I really discourage anybody from doing it with their dog as a form of correction. Just go on youtube and look up "Cesar Millan getting bit" and you'll find all kinds of video montages of him repeatedly being bitten by scared dogs that he's pushed way over their threshold, after they've given tons of warnings about how afraid/uncomfortable they are.

There's nothing wrong with rolling your dog on their back and giving them a tummy rub. If they enjoy it, obviously they trust you and have a good relationship and that's great.

The premise behind alpha rolls as a training tool is based on outdated wolf behavior research, where people thought that the alpha wolf had to go around putting his teeth on other wolves' throats and forcing them to submit if they got too pushy.

That turns out to be untrue. Usually when an alpha "rolls" a pack member, the lower wolf submits voluntarily. No actual physical contact is made. We've learned since then that wolf packs are a family unit that generally consists of parents and their offspring, not a bunch of unrelated animals of different ages like many households with multiple dogs.

In the past it was also assumed that wolf behavior can be applied equally to domestic dogs. That isn't true either. Dog body language and wolf body language is superficially similar in some ways, but they have very different "cultures". Alpha dogs do not have exclusive breeding rights for example. Dogs have a much more fluid pack structure, like coyotes. The alpha position can vary day to day, with them having less of a highly structured pack like wolves and more cooperative social hunter style like coyotes.

Something I have noticed that is the same between dogs and wolves, is that the alphas almost never get physical. They don't have to. They just stand there being calm and impassive, and the weaker animals submit. It's the middle class alpha-wannabees that start fights, usually with other mid class canines. So when you get physical with a dog that is challenging you, what message are you really sending them?

Dogs are not stupid. They do not think humans are giant hairless dogs. Alpha rolling is a clumsy attempt at speaking their body language, which most dogs accept with a lot of grace and poise because they love us and understand that we're trying, even when we don't do it right.

Alphas control the resources. That is something humans can and should use when establishing their role. We have opposable thumbs. We earn the money that buys their food, the comfy furniture. We're the ones who can open the door to let them play outside. We give them toys. It's a really simple matter to interact in a way that they understand that all good things in life come from you.
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Old 01-19-2013, 11:48 AM   #49
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Originally Posted by sassandgroove View Post
so you aren't sayingwhat he does is wrong, just that people aren't understanding what he is doing and implementing it wrong?

thanks all for the discussion.
The problem with Cesar is he doesn't fully understand why what he does works and doesn't work, so he's unable to convey that to the audience.

He talks a lot about dogs challenging you/him, but in reality most dogs want a peaceful, stable household. They want the stuff that's important to them (getting petted, comfy furniture, regular food supply, etc.). If they're afraid, that can sometimes be misinterpreted as a challenge when really they're trying to communicate that they're scared or unsure.

For example, a dog is growling over his food and snapping at people who get close. He's not being dominant. He's saying, "I'm afraid that you're going to take my food away if you get too close." He's communicating.

What happens if you keep pushing him? If he feels threatened enough and is cornered, he might try to defend himself. If there's an escape route he might take it and try to flee.

What happens if you grab him and do an alpha roll on him right there? He might lay there and take it. He might bite you. He might stop growling at people being near his food because now he's scared that you're going to alpha roll him if he growls.

If that happens, you now have a ticking time bomb. The dog is still afraid of people being near its food, so what's going to happen when a weaker person like a little kid comes near the food bowl? You know how some dogs attack people "out of the blue" or "without any warning?" Well, those dogs are often the dogs who were punished for growling (communicating).

If you respect their warning, back off, and figure out what the underlying problem is and address that directly, the growling will stop. Growling and some of these other behaviors that are interpreted as a challenge are often a symptom of something entirely different. It could be a fear thing, it could be medical (maybe Fido has developed arthritis and it really hurts to be climbed on by kids now), etc.

Personally, I am always grateful when a dog growls. That means it's willing to communicate, and I can work with it. The dogs that scare the crap out of me are the ones that don't try anymore and go straight for a bite. I never punish a growling dog. Ever.
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Old 01-19-2013, 11:04 PM   #50
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Your posts are so interesting! If you don't punish a dog for growling (and being aggressive?) about food, does that include techniques like my 'banning for 10 min and try again' technique? I definitely think the environment needs to be nice for an anxious dog, so no little dogs running under the food-anxious dog while he's eating, making sure there are separate bowls, etc.

But what constitutes punishment? Just aggressive things or controlled, calm things, too? The banning thing just works for me, but the psychology behind it may be all wrong or just work with my actual pack, so to speak!

As a summary, I use a leash and calmly remove the food-aggressive dog away from all food and fun stuff (to an empty room) alone without me, too, for 10 min and then try the situation again (so back to his bowl to eat). Is that bad punishment in general, do you think?
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