Friday, March 5, 2010

Doors & Tug & Eating

Play or dominance? 5 week old ACD on 7 week old Rottweiler

And the answer is:
What are three things that are often falsely thought of dominance behaviors?

Going through Doors first:
Some trainers say that going through doors first establishes dominance. No it won't.

Playing Tug:
Some trainers say that playing tug will make your dog dominant. No it won't.

Eating First:
Some trainers say that eating first established dominance. No it won't.

All of these mentioned have nothing to do with dominance.
Take the test.

Doors: Have your dog pack by the door and open it to release all dogs at the same time to an outside area that is save to run out to. Don't ask for a sit of down. The alpha may or may not go first. The fasted, most boisterous dog usually does. If you mix big and large the biggest usually go, since the little ones stay back to avoid being trampled.

Tug: If you are physically able, playing tug with your dog is a great way to exercise your dog and yourself. It is also a great way to reward your dog during training. Establish rules. No biting hand, not even by accident. Teach releasing the tug when you ask the dog to. Sometimes you can let the dog win, sometimes you ask for a release.
It is not a game that should be played with dogs who have toy guarding issues.

Eating: Without saying anything to your dogs, throw a handful of kibble on the ground in front of the pack. Unless you have some resource guarders there is not going to be any growling. All dogs eat as fast as they can until all the kibble is gone. Alpha does not eat first while all the other sit quietly on the sideline. The ones that may squabble are the ones that guard their resources which is a behavioral problem not an alpha behavior.

Don't confuse dominance, with reactivity, with aggressive behaviors. Dominant dogs don't bully, fight or demand anything.