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Interesting article regarding dominance theory

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  • Interesting article regarding dominance theory

    Here's an interesting article regarding the dominance theory and training:


    Whatcha think?
    Laurie Higgins
    "Expectation is premeditated disappointment."

  • #2
    I think it offers an interesting an well-articulated distinction between leadership and dominance.

    I think MANY people have trouble with some of the things specified in their description of leadership - in particular, setting boundaries.

    The worst behaved dogs and horses I have met have owners who THINK they are correcting/rewarding/disciplining in a way that sets consistent boundaries, but do not actually have enough self-awareness or sense of good judgement/observation to see that they are NOT actually being consistent.

    For example, the person whose horse drags them around, pushing them, grabbing grass here and there, etc. - every fifth or sixth time, they say "no, no" and jerk on the halter, but they don't seem aware of the other five times that the horse subtly or not so subtly pushed or pulled, and so they don't address it consistently, then wonder why the horse doesn't learn. Then they get frustrated, and maybe they turn to some theory of dominance to try to make the "training" work, because they are annoyed and angry that they can't make the animal behave.

    So I guess my take on the article is, that's a nice analysis, but for the average person who is having training problems, they need really broken down step-by-step training (for the person!) to help them understand what consistency means and how to be able to observe and respond with good timing and accuracy to the wanted/unwanted behaviors.


    • #3
      Describes what not to do but offers no alternative.

      I actually have a dog aggressive dog right now and am not sure what to do with her. I know it is all about fear and anxiety but am stumped as to how to get her to understand that launching and attaching yourself to other dogs is not acceptable. She is clearly not used to being around other dogs and is as socially inept as can be. I feel I have no choice but to repremand and sometimes get physical when she is attacking some poor unsuspecting dog. Others have said "wow, she is fearless" when she (20lbs) attacks a 100 lb Rottie or whatever but she isn't.....she is terrified. She constantly misreads "play with me" as aggression from my Dobe and he looks baffled by her response (stiffens, tail goes up, shows teeth...). I am trying to not put her in a position where she will "snap" but it happens (last night....walking in woods on leash and 3 off-leash dogs come running up out of nowhere...she is hanging off a big choc-labs face in seconds with him screaming).

      My hope is that eventually she will understand that other dogs for the most part are not looking for a fight and relax. But she is 2 yo and I am worried that her history combined with her Terrier mind will make it tough.

      Anyways, good article but would be better if it offered alternatives.
      "look deep into his pedigree. Look for the name of a one-of-a-kind horse who lends to his kin a fierce tenacity, a will of iron, a look of eagles. Look & know that Slew is still very much with us."


      • #4
        Originally posted by twofatponies View Post

        For example, the person whose horse drags them around, pushing them, grabbing grass here and there, etc. - every fifth or sixth time, they say "no, no" and jerk on the halter, but they don't seem aware of the other five times that the horse subtly or not so subtly pushed or pulled, and so they don't address it consistently, then wonder why the horse doesn't learn. Then they get frustrated, and maybe they turn to some theory of dominance to try to make the "training" work, because they are annoyed and angry that they can't make the animal behave.
        This is basic operant conditioning theory- it's the same thing that trains us humans to use slot machines and play the lottery The rule is that intermittent random reinforcement is the hardest to extinguish. So if a behavior randomly works, it will increase in frequency and be extremly ingrained (also a good explaination for things like superstition!).

        I don't think that's leadership/dominance. It's basic training.


        • Original Poster

          This is not a training article; it's an article written by vets for vets.

          The article does suggest strategies and makes a recommendation: Seek out a trainer well qualified to train with positive-reward methods.
          • Instead, the AVSAB emphasizes that animal training, behavior prevention strategies, and behavior modification programs should follow the scientifically based guidelines of positive reinforcement, operant conditioning, classical conditioning, desensitization, and counter conditioning.
          • The AVSAB recommends that veterinarians identify and refer clients only to trainers and behavior consultants who understand the principles of learning theory and who focus on reinforcing desirable behaviors and removing the reinforcement for undesirable behaviors.
          You may want to look into the book, "Control Unleashed," by Leslie McDevitt. It can be purchased from www.cleanrun.com.
          Laurie Higgins
          "Expectation is premeditated disappointment."