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  • Con Slobodchikoff, Ph.D.
    Slobodchikoff is President and CEO of Animal Communications, Ltd., specializing in pet behavior problems and in educating people about the behavior of animals.
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    London is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Pet Dog Trainer who specializes in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavioral problems in the domestic dog.

« Selecting Your Dog From a Shelter: A Life and Style decision | Main | Dreaming of Dogs »

August 02, 2010


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Randall Johnson

I"'m glad to see this issue being revisited with FRESH EYES! I never understood, from the beginning, why anyone would try to apply the perceived social behavior of wolves to that of dogs. Dogs have a long history of living within human groups; wolves do not! This age-old interspecies association has exerted complex, subtle influences on both species that need to be taken into consideration when discussing any aspect of dogs' social behavior.
The traditional model of dominance always struck me as being simplistic and Nature is anything but simple! Furthermore, relationships among social mammals ARE NOT STATIC! There is a continuous 'ebb and flow' going on all the time. And why some professional dog trainers adopted this erroneous model in their training methods defied my ability to understand. I would NEVER consider using their methods with any of the dogs that have been part of my family because I genuinely liked and respected each one of them. Depriving them of essential resources or using brute force to show our dominance over them...well, as far as I'm concerned, that's nothing but animal cruelty and mistreatment and should be punished.
I applaud Cafazzo, et al. for opening the door to truer version of dog dominance and would like to add that subscribers like "Magnoliasouth" and "Starr Ladehoff" have important contributions to make to this discussion "


I've also seen cooperative Alpha systems with my dogs. That's probably not a good way to describe it and if there is a better term, please let me know.

However, one dog is Alpha when it comes to eating first. Another separate dog is Alpha when it comes to drinking water. Yet another dog is Alpha when it comes to sleeping on a favored dog bed that all want to sleep on. Another dog is Alpha when it comes to play time (they only play when one dog says it's okay).

It's really very interesting. I too believe that it is much more complicated than any one study could ever provide. I also feel that they are much more intelligent than they are given credit for.

Our measure of intelligence (stupid IQ tests, etc.) is frivolous. We only use these to pat ourselves on our backs, marveling over how we dominate all the other species of this earth. It's, quite frankly, embarrassing.

Starr Ladehoff

I personally believe the concept of dominance in dogs is much more complicated than what most people believe. Some dogs believed to be alpha can also act "submissively" with subordinate dogs in certain situations. I see this in my own family unit of five dogs. It is definitely much more fluid than originally thought.

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