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Discussion Starter #1
All I really know about dominance training is that it is based on the belief that we should act as a dominant dog would in a pack, and not allow the dog all that much freedom. And there's this rule against tug-of-war cuz it teaches the dog that he's equal to you.

I think I may have sorta trained my past dogs with that dominant mindset, because I was definitely like, "Here's the deal Ty/Winston/Diesel, you obey me. No ifs, ands, or buts." If I caught them doing something wrong, I would just clap and say, "No!" The only time I ever 'hit' my dog was when Diesel (my Olde English Bulldogge) was sitting at my feet and growled when my grandmother came to sit on the couch. I gave him a light pop on the rear and told him no. No issues after that. I don't know how such training would have worked in the long run though, because all of my dogs had to leave our care within a relatively short time.

People on here don't seem to like dominance training that much. I was wondering exactly what dominance training is and why people don't like it.
 

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Get the bunnies!
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I use tugging a LOT in training as a reward, I think you'll find that a lot of people in dog sport use tugging as a reward.
 

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IT is in a dogs nature to be submissive to man. Period.

Dogs are pack animals but WE allow them to be part of our pack. Dogs are a very visual animal. They realize we walk upright, have constant access to the food, and lay down the rules of the house. Its pretty obvious who the alpha is. Any descent pet owner shouldn't have to go out of their way to show they are the leader of their "pack". Their day to day life should be a testament to their "status" in this pack.

Now personally I think the pack thing and all this alpha junk is a little bit overkill. I have been around some very Civil dogs, and some very Dominant dogs. An even though they had these strong drives, and wore very aggressive to humans, within there home and there normal people they knew there place.

If you really want to read about an animal trying to jump places in the pack order, read about people who try to raise a wolf or wolf-hybrid. Dogs of even the most dominant are poodles compared to their cousins(wolves). Dogs and wold share many similarities both in behavior and in genetics but they are from from the same animal. Dogs have been selectively bred for ages to work for humans(to be submissive/to be controlled). Pack dynamics are still present in dogs but are a far cry from the intensity of their wolf cousins.

Just be fair and consistent in your training. Have fun with your dog, and treat them like a dog! You will not have issues. The alpha rolling school of dog training has been far surpassed by positive/operant conditioning methods.
 

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Holier Than Now
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...I don't know how such training would have worked in the long run though, because all of my dogs had to leave our care within a relatively short time...
Um, why did all your dogs have "to leave [your] care within a relatively short time"?
 

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Who wants to play (tug) with the playground bully? That's not a game, it's a "I'm taking my toy so THERE!!" moment. Tug is a GAME. It's supposed to be fun. The idea that letting your puppy win will turn him into a "blood thirsty alpha male werewolf" is as much an urban legend as bigfoot.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Um, why did all your dogs have "to leave [your] care within a relatively short time"?
Alright, this may end up being a long story, but bear with me.

First dog was a retired greyhound rescue. We fostered him for about.... two weeks? It was quite a while ago; I was about twelve or thirteen. Guess it was such a short time that he didn't really count as 'ours,' but he really made an impression on me. He was a good dog, but the foster group had told us he was potty trained, which he was not (and you know how greyhounds are notorious for being difficult to potty train), that he did not have separation anxiety (he chewed up two pairs of $1000 blinds when we left him alone the first time), and that he was good with small children, which he was not. I was naturally confident around him, which he must have picked up on, but my four year old brother wasn't. One day he walked up beside Ty and Ty bit him. On the face. It was not a full-blown attack, but my parents immediately drove Ty back to the foster group, as they should have done. I still remember how hard I cried though.

Second dog was a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. I think we must have got him roughly a year or two after Ty. Unfortunately, we got him from a BYB. We honestly didn't know any better. He was a gorgeous dog, but very sickly and very slow. He never learned his name and was never potty trained, and had a very weak temperament, always whining or whimpering. In a moment of desperation, my mother sent Winston to one of those doggie boot camps where they are taught by a professional. Normal staying time was two weeks. The trainer kept him for four. He was no different when we got him back. We were constantly cleaning up his mess; constantly paying vet bills for this and that infection or inflammation.

During our second year of owning him, my brother and I became very sick and my grandmother died. My parents asked a friend to watch Winston for a while while they tried to keep everything under control. After about two weeks, my parents realized that the friend loved Winston, and after informing her of his numerous medical and intellectual issues, told her that she could keep him. Almost seven years later I hear that he's no different.

Diesel, an Olde English Bulldogge, was by far our best dog, but again, we got him from a BYB. This one was slightly more knowledgeable than the first BYB (if that's possible), and Diesel at least was eager to please and very tolerant of any sort of discomfort or pain, even if he did have his moments of stubborness.

Again, the BYB's poor breeding struck. A few months after owning Diesel, he started smelling super bad. Then he started scratching, so much that he would bleed. The vet told us that he had a full-body yeast infection, and to change our dog food. We did. The problem stopped for a while, then came back. We kept cycling the food, but nothing was helping. The vet couldn't figure out what Diesel was allergic to. His allergies to grain, cheese, and peanut butter were obvious, but there was some other obscure ingredient that we couldn't find. I suppose we could have switched to raw, but we were listening to the vet, and you know what they're trained to say about dog food. To keep his skin under control was $150 a month, not including his frequent eye infections and constant colds. He also was extremely difficult to manage around people.

My father is a banker, so the economy hit us really hard. On top of the facts that he supports a family of six, I got a bone spur in my foot that needed operating on, Diesel knocked my 98 year old grandmother to the floor and broke her hip, and that my dad's friend was looking for a pure bred OEB, it was a no-brainer for my parents to give Diesel to my dad's friend. We were all very sad, but he had turned out to be much more of an expense than we had signed up for. Current owner is well-off and doesn't mind it.

EDIT: We had Diesel for a little less than two years. Despite the breed's stubborness, I was able to teach Diesel to sit, stay, shake, come, roll over, play hide and seek, and ring a bell on the door when he needed to go out without any guidance from a trainer or self-help book or whatever. Really great dog.

So I guess you could say that my experience thus far with owning dogs has not been a good one. We definitely did some things wrong, but I would like to think that we just have had bad luck with dogs as well. I'm here to learn, and if that means being chewed up and called a horrible dog owner.... so be it.
 

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No ones going to call you anything. Not one of the above decisions sounds like it was yours. Do you have a dog at the moment? Do you still live with your parents?
 

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joie de vivre
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I agree with Tperkins. My Dobes know I'm in charge because, guess what? I just am.

I believe there are some dogs that are too much dog for some people to handle, but that's not an issue of lack of "dominance training" in my opinion. That's just an owner/handler that's not experienced or knowledgeable enough to handle a certain dog, or in some cases a certain breed.

This is why it's so important to do your research and know what kind of dog you're bringing into your home. Can you (general 'you') live with their energy level, temperament, personality, size, potential health problems, etc.?

It sounds like circumstances for dog ownership have been out of your control. Hopefully you'll be able to make better, more informed choices when the choice is yours to make.

Welcome to the forum.
 
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I don't like anything that has to do with being "dominant" or "alpha", etc. I think many of these are dated techniques, and I don't like using any methods that involved flooding, fear based training, or forcing your dog to submit through fear. These are great ways to get your dog not to like you so much.

I do what I would call my own version of NILIF. I don't follow the program, per se, but in my house EVERYTHING is earned. And once something is earned, it's allowed as long as things stay ok. Example, at first, not allowed on furnuture. After a few months of good behavior, allowed on the couch by invitation... A while more of good behavior, and the invitation is no longer needed. The priveledge has been earned, so enjoy it. But, if I give an off command, I also expect a quick off.

In terms of tug, that is such an old myth. There's nothing wrong with letting your dog win a round of tug, in fact, it's a great confidence booster, and a great way to get out some extra energy. Why would a dog want to do something if he always loses? I always let a dog win tug. For a dog with a decent prey drive, tugging is amazingly fun, and winning and getting to kill the tug becomes the reward. I also use it as a reward in training, and just for general play.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
No ones going to call you anything. Not one of the above decisions sounds like it was yours. Do you have a dog at the moment? Do you still live with your parents?
No dog at the moment. With the economy and our past failed attempts, my family is a bit wary. Which I understand. I am still living with my parents, and I plan to for my first two years at college at least, since it's so close to my house. Once I'm on my own and stable, I'd love to own a dog. It's still a while off, but it's never to soon to start learning imo.

So it sounds like there's a difference between making it clear that you're the alpha and dominance training. So dominance training relies mostly on fear?
 

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joie de vivre
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So it sounds like there's a difference between making it clear that you're the alpha and dominance training. So dominance training relies mostly on fear?
My perspective is that I don't have to make it clear I'm the alpha. The very nature of the human-dog companionship puts the human in the position of being in charge because the human controls the resources - food, water, exercise, training, play. There are some dogs that require extra effort to build a trusting relationship but never, in my opinion, should dominance theory be a part of it.

Dobes are notorious for challenging control of certain things as they mature - they may growl over a bone, or being told to move off the sofa, or they may blatantly ignore a command but you don't have to handle them roughly to get the desired response. I've seen that often times that will backfire and you end up with a dog that doesn't trust you and the situation will escalate rather than convince them your way is the best way and they should adhere to your request/command.

I don't even like to say "I'm the alpha." I'm not a dog. My dogs know it. I could never do anything to convince my dogs that I'm a dog. I'm never going to be mistaken for a dog pack alpha.

Calm, consistent determination is what it takes with these dogs to reinforce that they listen to you. And as long as you're fair and handle them with respect and understanding, they want to do what pleases you. They are super smart dogs; independent thinkers. If all you do is bulldoze them with force and the attitude of an irritable mule, they aren't going to do a damn thing you want. Even if you do have a Dobe that responds to that kind of crap, it's stemming from fear and/or intimidation and you've got a dog you can't trust. A dog that only does something because they're afraid of you or intimidated will only comply until they see an opportunity to not do it. Sometimes that comes in the form of becoming aggressive.

You can inadvertently train a dog to be hostile with you. When they're sick of being bullied by you they'll confront you about it and some dogs learn that's what gets a person to leave them alone. You handle them roughly, they snap, you jump and back-off (they will pick-up on your discomfort) and that reinforces that they can snap and you leave them alone. Then you've shaped a dog who will confront you dangerously over things they don't want to do.

A Dobe that respects and trusts you and wants to do what you want is a wonderful dog to have. They'll go to the ends of the Earth for their people but you've got to show them you're someone worthy of their love and trust. Dominance training isn't the way to get that.
 

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One thing I've noticed with my dobe is that he learned VERY quickly who he can get away with things around, and who he can't. My dad rules the house mostly, and Korben is 100% a suck-up to him, as well as my sister's husband (the man doesn't have to do anything, all dogs just seem to love/listen to him, it's sickening! D: ) but around my mom, who just spoils the pups, he knows he can push his luck, because she's less assertive and more passive.

Dobes are insanely smart, you just need to make sure you stay consistant with training, and just keep in mind that it's an all or nothing kind of world for dogs. Don't give them an inch, unless you plan on giving them a mile (with some anyways, all dogs act differently after all). And if you're not the only one around the dog, make sure everyone is on the same page, so people aren't undermining one another with the training, I've had a few problems with that. It's annoying, even if it's not intentional.

If you're worried about establishing dominance/leadership early on, I've read a lot of places that hand feeding your dog can help with that a little. I've even done it with Korben. The change wasn't huge, but every little bit helps. Also helps to prevent food aggression. Just teaching them who rules the food shows who has control over the more higher ranking roles in a pack, assuming you plan to stick to that kind of mindset.
 

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Calm, consistent determination is what it takes with these dogs to reinforce that they listen to you. And as long as you're fair and handle them with respect and understanding, they want to do what pleases you.

:nicejob:

Amen!
 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
Thanks guys! Ya'll really helped. :)

EDIT: Wow, I never really thought about how The Dog Whisperer promoted dominance training. We watched him a bit, but mostly just for entertainment. Didn't completely buy into his training theories. We did use that sorta hissing sound when our dogs did something wrong though. Less obnoxious than a loud 'no!'
 

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It's tricky, because the word dominance and alpha get tossed around a lot and there are horrible ways out there to "establish dominance." Yet, it is very important to be a calm, fair leader and not let your dog push you around. And these guys will push, push, and push some more if you let them. Certain breeds are softer and would do fine with the mushiest non-leader owner. Others need a stronger presence in their owners. It's not about alpha rolling, or getting angry, or yelling. The Nothing In Life is Free practice is a good one, I think. In another thread I was talking about taking high value items from my dogs and that I should never hear a growl or a protest about it. Now that's not because I bully them around and they're afraid what will happen if they protest, but it's a learned response that this bone/toy/chew is ultimately mine, not yours. Sometimes I take it away, and give it right back. Sometimes I take it and put peanut butter on it and give it back. But there are times when I do just take it away, sorry. Of course I don't mess with them and take their things all the time, but when I do need to for safety reasons I should be able to immediately. I don't think I'm articulating myself all that well...

I know people who let their dogs get away with anything, and go solely reward-based and never give any consistency with rules or guidelines, because they have a hard time separating being firm, fair, and consistent with yelling, hitting, and making a dog slink away from you. There is a difference. I think Cesar screws a lot of things up but I do agree with him on some points - that dogs need "rules, boundaries and limitations." ;) I also think that many dogs need more exercise than most of the general public gives them. And I also like his "tsh" noise, too. I have always used "ah ah", but honestly the "tsh" does often cut through better, is easier to do in a totally calm and collected manner, and is less obnoxious when other people are around. :)

Not sure if I'm getting my point across (need coffee) but I think it's important to make a distinction because you'll hear on DT that dominance theory is generally outdated and not a good practice, however, that doesn't mean that it works to be a soft mushball owner either. And I think people have a hard time seeing that area between the two. It's like with kids - you teach them with positivity, teach them that they are loved and amazing, and you make them eager to learn and want to please you. But you can't just let them run around like maniacs whenever they please, either. And it doesn't mean you have to knock them around to get them to be respectful kids that listen, you just have to be consistent and follow through. (And I don't have kids, so take that as you will. :) )
 

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