Great Interview About the "Alpha Dog" Discussions

Discussion in 'General Dog Chat' started by Toedtoes, Apr 21, 2023.

  1. Toedtoes

    Toedtoes Member

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    Great Interview About the "Alpha Dog"

    https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/alpha-wolf-myth/

    Dr. Dave Mech explains how he got it wrong back in 1970 with his book The Wolf: The Ecology and Behavior of an Endangered Species.

    Then Anamarie Johnson, PhD candidate and canine behavior consultant at Arizona State University, and Dr. Lindsay Palmer, social and behavioral scientist who studies the human-animal bond at the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School discuss how the myth has infiltrated the dog world.

    It was eye opening to hear the host, Maddie Sofia, point out that she heard it a lot in "dog training and insecure men on the internet".
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  3. Chris B

    Chris B Member

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    CaroleC and Toedtoes like this.
    I did my dissertation on the dominance theory myth. It is surprising how many have now disproved it and yet it still persists with some
  4. Toedtoes

    Toedtoes Member

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    CaroleC likes this.
    I've had to point out it has been debunked on other dog forums a lot. And it permeates in everything dog - from training, to play, to selecting a puppy, to crating, to feeding, etc.
  5. Helidale

    Helidale Member

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    Toedtoes likes this.
    It sure does. The number of times you hear people say that they have be the pack leader because they have an alpha dog! This type will accuse you of not understanding pack theory, and sees reward based training as luring and bribing - but isn't it the same thing as offering and accepting payment for your work?
    Opposite to this are the folk who think don't believe in dog training, because the species has been Man's Best Friend for so long that they have learned to adapt to man's lifestyle. (These are usually the Just Being Friendly, Dog In Your Face types).
    Prior, (or should I say Pryor?) to the clicker revolution almost everyone did use some methods that we now think are negative - they were just described as Hard or Gentle trainers. I must admit that after having done it for so long, giving the occasional poke or tap for attention can be a difficult habit to break.
  6. Toedtoes

    Toedtoes Member

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    I agree. When I started dog training as a kid (4-H), leash corrections were the norm. It took some conscious effort to break that habit.

    Personally, if that were the extent of the difference, I wouldn't have much of a problem. In most cases, it is pretty minor and I was taught that the correction was to be as minimal as possible. I suspect it helped that my boxer was a very sensitive girl who needed encouragement more than anything. As soon as we got into the ring, her head went down and she would walk about 5 steps behind me - completely miserable. I spent the entire ring time, every ring time, bent over, looking back, patting my knee and saying "come on girl, come on" in the happiest most excited voice I could muster. We always came in third for obedience because we got dinged for "lagging" - everything else she did perfectly. But we always won in conformation because it was 4-H and they judged on how we handled the dog and I put way for effort into it than anyone else. Outside of the ring, she was at my side and still did everything else perfectly.

    At the same time, my dad had a husky* and that dog didn't take kindly to rough handling in the opposite way. Too rough and he would wait for the opportunity to humiliate you. To get the best out of him, you had to make it worth his while. So, again, a heavy hand backfired completely.

    So, I guess I can thank them for teaching me that "alpha theory" was wrong from the beginning. Instead, I had to make things fun and happy. And if I fell into negativity or punishment let alone cruelty, I saw the repercussions.

    Yeah, the "you're just bribing the dog" comments are stupid. Even if you are bribing the dog, isn't that better than hurting the dog?? I'm really big on the redirection then reward. And I've never been a big treat trainer - I just find it annoying to have to carry treats all the time, maybe because I usually have two dogs with me. But, because of my boxer, I have always been a major praiser. The excitement level varies from a staid "that'll do Pig, that'll do" to over the top depending on the individual dog, but it is always there.
  7. Chris B

    Chris B Member

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    and that's what a lot can't grasp, praise, play, cuddles can be just as rewarding to a dog as a treat
  8. CaroleC

    CaroleC Member

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    chlosmum and Toedtoes like this.
    I used to believe that ... but that was before I became a Beagle owner. LOL.
    Even less chance as a middle-aged rehomed Beagle owner. ROFL.

    Exits forum sobbing.
  9. Toedtoes

    Toedtoes Member

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    I sympathize. My Bat-dog had a hybrid beagle-goat stomach. She worshipped food.
  10. CaroleC

    CaroleC Member

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