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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I don't think this topic has been posted here, but if it has, come someone just point me in the right direction? :)

I posted somewhere else that Bella is coming into her "teenage years" and is beginning to test my fiance and me. She fights for attention ALL the time now (especially if my fiance and I are cuddling on the couch); she ignores us when we ask her to do tricks if we don't have treats in our hands (she was beginning to work for praise only...now she's regressing.) I pointed out that we make her work for her resources. Before she eats, we ask her to sit, stay, lie down, whatever. If I'm playing fetch with her, she has to do a trick for me every time I throw the toy. Stuff like that. Someone suggested that I need to be doing "dominance training" with her, and I'm kind of uncomfortable with this because a.) Bella is not a wolf, so a lot of these things just don't apply to her, and b.) I'm not a wolf, so I think some of these "training" techniques would blow right over her head because she just doesn't understand what I'm trying to do. Here are a few of the "dominance training" suggestions:

- if Bella were to get some table scraps, they would be given to her at the *very end* of a meal

- or Bella's meals made sure to be given after any meal you eat, so after your breakfast, etc. (alphas eat first).

- Some treats given to Bella from your mouth (alphas do this to show affection for the 'lower' ranks).

- some "rolling" - alphas will occasionally roll the lower ranks from laying down on their bellies to laying down on their sides or backs. Some folks aren't comfortable with rolling as a form of punishment (and I say a form of because it's really not *punishment* it's the equivalent of a very firm NO or 'This is not acceptable behaviour' in the dog world) - so it's okay to just roll her playfully.


Does any one have any advice/suggestions/experieces/etc.?
 

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bella_blue said:
I don't think this topic has been posted here, but if it has, come someone just point me in the right direction? :)

I posted somewhere else that Bella is coming into her "teenage years" and is beginning to test my fiance and me. She fights for attention ALL the time now (especially if my fiance and I are cuddling on the couch); she ignores us when we ask her to do tricks if we don't have treats in our hands (she was beginning to work for praise only...now she's regressing.) I pointed out that we make her work for her resources. Before she eats, we ask her to sit, stay, lie down, whatever. If I'm playing fetch with her, she has to do a trick for me every time I throw the toy. Stuff like that. Someone suggested that I need to be doing "dominance training" with her, and I'm kind of uncomfortable with this because a.) Bella is not a wolf, so a lot of these things just don't apply to her, and b.) I'm not a wolf, so I think some of these "training" techniques would blow right over her head because she just doesn't understand what I'm trying to do. Here are a few of the "dominance training" suggestions:

- if Bella were to get some table scraps, they would be given to her at the *very end* of a meal

- or Bella's meals made sure to be given after any meal you eat, so after your breakfast, etc. (alphas eat first).

- Some treats given to Bella from your mouth (alphas do this to show affection for the 'lower' ranks).

- some "rolling" - alphas will occasionally roll the lower ranks from laying down on their bellies to laying down on their sides or backs. Some folks aren't comfortable with rolling as a form of punishment (and I say a form of because it's really not *punishment* it's the equivalent of a very firm NO or 'This is not acceptable behaviour' in the dog world) - so it's okay to just roll her playfully.


Does any one have any advice/suggestions/experieces/etc.?
Please take everything I say with a grain of salt. I am no expert...not by a long shot. This is just based on the books I've read and training material I've come into contact with and personal experience.

I do all of those, except the feeding from the mouth thing - that's just gross, lol. Alpha rolling....well, most people say it could cause more harm than good, especially if you're not trained to know when to do it. In other words, there is a time and place and circumstance to do it, and it's not very often. I don't do it at all, unless one of my dogs is COMPLETELY out of control and not reacting to anything I do to stop them - which I think has happened maybe twice.

The other stuff I completely agree with, however. Wolf or not, the idea of pack structure is hard wired. You have to remember that Bella is an animal, first and foremost. Then she is a dog, and THEN she is Bella. You have to interact with her with that in mind. She will definitely understand you taking the alpha role.

Some other rules we practice that I can think of off the top of my head...


Humans go through doors first.

Dogs do not get on the bed uless invited, and must get off immediately when told to do so.

Dogs do not sit or lay on humans.

Dogs do not hump ANYTHING.

Humans are always in front of dogs on walks.

Dogs eat their meals after humans eat theirs.

Dogs do every trick they know to our satisfaction - including stay, with humans out of the room and food on the floor - before they get fed.

Humans may take food or toys from dogs at any time.

This one I do on occasion, not all the time: Humans stand between dogs and dogs' food until dogs lose interest, which indicates that dogs understand that the food belongs to the humans. Then invite them back and "allow" them to eat "your" dog food.


In my experience, it works very well. Obviously I don't know if Chance was the alpha of his litter, but he definitely showed alpha tendencies when we brought him home. He still does (it's a daily battle, lol), but he's gettting MUCH better. He's learning his place. He still tests us - and I'm dreading his "teenage years" - but I believe in the whole "pack" philosophy.

Being the alpha is mostly about making sure that your dog understands that YOU control all the resources, and that everything your dog wants (food, toys, playtime, cuddling with you...everything) can only be had by making you happy enough to allow him/her to have what he wants.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Wow...thanks for all of the advice! I'll definitely take it to heart. I'm still doing a lot of research on dog behavior and whatnot. The only thing that strikes me as being kind of off is this:

Chrisnjen said:
Wolf or not, the idea of pack structure is hard wired.
I agree completely, but I'm leaning toward the idea that pack structure among animals of the same species is hard wired. I'm just having issues with the fact that being of different species, maybe Bella doesn't understand some of the dominant things I would do to imitate the alpha bitch in a pack. I definitely want her to understand that I control all of her resources and all of the good things in her life, but as far as being "alpha of the pack" I'm still unsure.
 

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bella_blue said:
Wow...thanks for all of the advice! I'll definitely take it to heart. I'm still doing a lot of research on dog behavior and whatnot. The only thing that strikes me as being kind of off is this:

Chrisnjen said:
Wolf or not, the idea of pack structure is hard wired.
I agree completely, but I'm leaning toward the idea that pack structure among animals of the same species is hard wired. I'm just having issues with the fact that being of different species, maybe Bella doesn't understand some of the dominant things I would do to imitate the alpha bitch in a pack. I definitely want her to understand that I control all of her resources and all of the good things in her life, but as far as being "alpha of the pack" I'm still unsure.
I mean...if you look at situations where multiple dogs get loose, as is happening in New Orleans, they invariably form up into packs, exactly like wolves would. If the concept of dominance and submissiveness weren't still ingrained in your dog, she wouldn't do things like roll over on her back in a submissive position or try to hump your leg or any of the dominant and/or submissive behaviors dogs do.

If you never trained them to do any of that stuff, where would these behaviors come from? It is hard wired, lol.
 

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Here is what we have done with Loki since we got her...

She eats after us. We always eat first.

Don't let her hump anything.

We go through doors first and she walks beside or behind us. This is kind of difficult still because she still pulls. We are working on that.

She is allowed up on the couch and can lay in our bed but she has to get down when told and she never "complains" about it.

I can take her food, treats, toys away and she won't do anything besides giving me that quizzical look. We can reach in her food bowl when shes eating or put our face down there like we are going to eat it. We didnt want any food possessiveness so we did this from the day we brought her home.

Stop anything she is doing when we tell her too.

We also dont allow any overly dominant behavior with other dogs to avoid fights.

I think there are some more but I can't think right now.
 

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pretty much what Chrisnjen said, and tho it is true bella is not a wolf now, some where down the line it is pretty much a given her relatives were. keep in mind, consistency is very important too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Chrisnjen said:
I mean...if you look at situations where multiple dogs get loose, as is happening in New Orleans, they invariably form up into packs, exactly like wolves would. If the concept of dominance and submissiveness weren't still ingrained in your dog, she wouldn't do things like roll over on her back in a submissive position or try to hump your leg or any of the dominant and/or submissive behaviors dogs do.

If you never trained them to do any of that stuff, where would these behaviors come from? It is hard wired, lol.
True. I don't doubt that dogs exhibit hard-wired dominant and submissive behaviors to people, but do they clearly understand that my eating before them, for example, is a sign of my own exhibition of dominance? A lot of people don't even realize that a dog humping their leg is a behavior of dominance rather than horniness, so should we expect dogs to interpret our behavior (and our body language, which is radically different from dogs') as clearly dominant or submissive?
 

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bella_blue said:
Chrisnjen said:
I mean...if you look at situations where multiple dogs get loose, as is happening in New Orleans, they invariably form up into packs, exactly like wolves would. If the concept of dominance and submissiveness weren't still ingrained in your dog, she wouldn't do things like roll over on her back in a submissive position or try to hump your leg or any of the dominant and/or submissive behaviors dogs do.

If you never trained them to do any of that stuff, where would these behaviors come from? It is hard wired, lol.
True. I don't doubt that dogs exhibit hard-wired dominant and submissive behaviors to people, but do they clearly understand that my eating before them, for example, is a sign of my own exhibition of dominance? A lot of people don't even realize that a dog humping their leg is a behavior of dominance rather than horniness, so should we expect dogs to interpret our behavior (and our body language, which is radically different from dogs') as clearly dominant or submissive?
You're over thinking it :p.

To them, you're a part of their pack and it doesn't matter that you're a human. They don't think on the level you're giving them credit for.

edit: As for being cued in to your body language....dogs are FAR more perceptive when it comes to human body language than any human could hope to be. They have companion dogs for epileptics that predict seizures...if that's not perception and understanding, I don't know what is.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I'm still skeptical on the whole dominance theory, and I've been doing a lot of research lately. Here are some really good thought-provoking articles:

http://www.seattledogs.com/faqs.htm#alpha

http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&A=1666&S=1&SourceID=47

http://www.clickersolutions.com/articles/2001/macho.htm

I will continue to control Bella's resources and make her "work" for them (the NILIF program), but as far as eating before she does, making her walk beside me or behind me, not letting her lie on me, etc....I just don't see that as being beneficial at all. Thanks, everyone, for your comments!
 
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