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Ok, I am confused, slightly. I think I kinda know the answer to this question, which I'll enumerate later for your judgment, but would like your takes on it.

Well, I've been reading a lot on this forum concerning mixed interpretations of Caesar Millan's methodology. He seems to be all about pack theory and as far as I can tell, Caesar's methods are very controversial. I have also read a fair amount of Dunbar, who seems to believe Caesar's methods aren't good at all and also seems to discount pack theory.

Yet, every dog breed article I read (about the different breeds I'm looking into), there is a perfunctory mention of the strength of each particular breed's pack mentality. Some seem more driven by this mentality than others. But it appears in almost every breed description on www.dogbreedinfo.com for example.

So I suspect there is a middle ground concerning pack theory. That yes, there is a pack tendency in dog behavior, but perhaps not so much as Caesar claims? And maybe not so little as some others claim?

Thoughts?
 

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now are you talking just...

"Dogs tend to make social groupings with loose pack structure amidst their own species"...pack theory...


.or...



"To train your dog well you must be utterly dominate over him/her"...pack theory..


?
 

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First off, I've seen some weird stuff come out of dogbreedinfo, so I'm not sure if I would use them as a definite source of information.

Second, what is your definition of pack theory?
 

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I live with a dog pack and I'd have to say that I see pack mentality in these dogs every day. Not WOLF pack behavior, but DOG pack behavior. Racing greyhounds are raised on farms where they grow up with their litter and retain a lot of natural dog behaviors before starting their racing training at over a year old. They are socialized with humans and taught basic manners, but aren't ripped from their moms at 8-9 weeks old and dropped into a human environment. I think this has a tendency to make dogs neurotic...because they aren't humans. They're dogs. And have different needs than a human would.

A dog-dog relationship is different than a dog-human relationship and my role in our pack is not as another dog, it's as the human. Humans are lucky that dogs willingly accept a human leader into their life, provided that leader meets certain needs of each individual dog and the pack as a whole. It's that willingness to follow that comes from the pack mentality, IMO.
 

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The pack instinct among dogs is real. However, selective breeding has altered canine social structure, and certain breeds have had their pack instincts tweaked more than others. Individuals within a breed can vary considerably. What this means is that over relying on a rigid theory of pack dynamics can cause as many problems as pretending it is a myth. Likewise "dominance theory".
 

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I think there might be some confusion between Pack Theory and Pack Drive. Every dog has both Prey Drive and Pack Drive but, that varies by breed and individual dogs. Some dogs/breeds are independent and aloof (low in pack drive - high in prey drive) with other dogs and humans. Some are cuddlers and social butterflies.
These drives have nothing to do with the 'pecking order' of Pack Theory.
 

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now are you talking just...

"Dogs tend to make social groupings with loose pack structure amidst their own species"...pack theory...

My vote here.

.or...



"To train your dog well you must be utterly dominate over him/her"...pack theory..


?

My "pack" pretty much housetrained the newest member of the family. I found her roaming near where I work, so had no idea of her history. No one claimed her, so she stayed. She only wet the floor twice (duh, yes, right in front of me), and was immediately shuttled outside with the other three dogs.

They taught her what "outside," and "be quick" means way faster than I could have.
 

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I do not REALLY get into dominance side but your dog MUST respect you and think of you higher then self. Dominance has a bad ring to us humans, you say I dominate my dog and people "See" dog cowarding under the table when you walk in the room. That, my friends, not dominance but fear!!! You do not want your dog to fear you but you want him to respect you and think of you as "Higher being". Does that mean you dominate your dog? You decide.

BTW: Cesar's dogs do NOT seem scared or fearful they rather LOVE him. If he is such evil why would that be so? But of cuz how many books there on bring up a child? ;)
 

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You do not want your dog to fear you but you want him to respect you and think of you as "Higher being".

BTW: Cesar's dogs do NOT seem scared or fearful they rather LOVE him. If he is such evil why would that be so?
Re: respect, how does one know the internal thoughts of a dog? Still more, how does one derive a training protocol around those internal thoughts?

I'd also question how you determine "love" for the same reason by what you see on TV.
 

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Re: respect, how does one know the internal thoughts of a dog? Still more, how does one derive a training protocol around those internal thoughts?
We use words to describe behaviors in dogs that approximate the meanings of those words. I don't know what my dog truly thinks of me. He might think I'm a total jerk. I don't really care. If he "respects" my personal space, and he "respects" me enough to not attempt to snatch food off my plate, then that's close enough for me.
 

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Re: respect, how does one know the internal thoughts of a dog? Still more, how does one derive a training protocol around those internal thoughts?

I'd also question how you determine "love" for the same reason by what you see on TV.
Well, I see "respect" as "accepting my direction, guidance, and leadership". If a dog (for example, Wally) follows my directions and leadership in situations, I'd say he respects me.

Especially for Wally, first I had to gain his trust, i.e. I'm not going to kill, crush, hurt him, etc. I know when he first got here, it was more fear of me than respect for me. He stayed away and wouldn't do a THING I asked (willingly) and showed no inclination of (willingly) learning.

First thing that freaked him out, he would only think about trying to get away. No listening to my directions or anything. Now, he looks to me for direction on how we should proceed. He'll come back to me, sit, shaking and shivering, and looking (literally) at me for direction. I'd say that's respect and trust in my leadership, guidance, and direction.

Training protocol? No idea. I've only had one dog in my life (Wally) and have going on seven months of dog ownership experience. I don't think I, myself, follow just ONE protocol, so I couldn't describe it to you - except that I do what works and what brings no harm to my companion. And even then, I may not know what to do with a "normal" dog since I've never experienced owning one. Only fearful-but-becoming-less-so Wally.

EDIT: Oh, and I think you can learn internal thoughts through external actions. Dog barking at the door, bumping it with his nose (speaking from personal experience again), means dog wants out - NOW. Dog comes up to me when I'm not looking at him and he whines and barks, he obviously thinks there's something that warrants my attention whether he's hungry or needs to go potty, etc.

Do I know what the voice in his head is saying, no. But that doesn't mean I'm totally in the dark about what he's thinking. Same for the scenario above - shaking/shivering, well something is worrying him. Looking up at me, he's trying to focus on me and wants me to guide him on what to do, especially if his ears perk forward at me for a second and then go back - that's definitely his "huh? what now?" or "please tell me more" signal to me.
 

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Well, I see "respect" as "accepting my direction, guidance, and leadership". If a dog (for example, Wally) follows my directions and leadership in situations, I'd say he respects me.
What if Wally has an overriding fear that prevents him from complying? What if he stubbed his toe and he mechanically can't do as you requested? What if a bee is buzzing in the background and he hasn't generalized your cue to bee buzzing? What if you're sad one day and you ask for a recall and your saddened face is an overriding cue for him not to recall? What if Wally chases after a squirrel and you're trying to lure him with a tennis ball? Are any of these examples of disrespect? Or is it possible Wally cold choose not to follow your direction and still respect you?

There is an inherent problem with guessing at a dog's internal thoughts and motivation...we're guessing. It's not uncommon for dog owners to label their dog as stubborn, hard headed, stupid, or disrespectful, based on non-compliance alone. That's unfair to the dog, and often leads to punitive training protocols, when punitive training protocols aren't warranted.

Yes, you can make some judgment on your dog motivation by his behavior. However, we better be certain we're qualified to make a judgment before defining our training protocol, especially if that protocol is punitive by nature, as most pack theory protocols are.

A few threads ago someone posted a video of a dog being trained with an e-collar. The dog was constantly looking away from the trainer, and yawning...these are calming signals, signs of distress. The trainer labeled the dog "tired". Had he guessed overly stressed, he may have ceased the training session at the first few obvious signs of distress, not minutes later after what he was attempting to do failed after way too many trials.

First thing that freaked him out, he would only think about trying to get away. No listening to my directions or anything. Now, he looks to me for direction on how we should proceed. He'll come back to me, sit, shaking and shivering, and looking (literally) at me for direction. I'd say that's respect and trust in my leadership, guidance, and direction.
I'm not saying you were or are punitive to your dog, but dogs can be forced into compliance too. No question. However, just because a dog chooses to follow direction, this does not necessarily mean the dog enjoys doing it, or that he respects his owner while doing it. I've seen dogs lunge after a cat, heed a cue to cease, and redirect his aggression onto his handler. Not at any one moment is this dog being disrespectful. Yes, the behavior is no less unwanted, but really, the dog's internal thoughts are not valued in his behavior.

I don't think I, myself, follow just ONE protocol, so I couldn't describe it to you - except that I do what works and what brings no harm to my companion. And even then, I may not know what to do with a "normal" dog since I've never experienced owning one. Only fearful-but-becoming-less-so Wally.
Here, let me offer you a gift...you can pay me back later. I don't care what dog you are handling, this is your protocol...ABC. "A" stands for antecedent, "b" stands for behavior, and "c" stands for consequence. An antecedent is anything in the dog's environment that is driving the dog's behavior, anything. Behavior is what the dog observably does...wag his tail, sitting, roll over, blink his eyes, etc. A consequence is a result of the behavior...food rewards, leash jerks, withdrawal of attention are all consequences for behavior. Within the the ABC's, you, as the dog's handler, have control over only two parts of this equation...antecedents and consequences. How your dog behaves is determined by him and him alone. How well you control the antecedent and consequence determines what behavior you can/will elicit from your dog.

So how do you train a "normal" dog? Control the antecedent and consequence. How do you train a fearful dog? Control the antecedent and consequence. How do you train a deaf, blind, tripod dog? Control the antecedent and consequence.

Oh, and I think you can learn internal thoughts through external actions. Dog barking at the door, bumping it with his nose (speaking from personal experience again), means dog wants out - NOW. Dog comes up to me when I'm not looking at him and he whines and barks, he obviously thinks there's something that warrants my attention whether he's hungry or needs to go potty, etc.
There's no doubt we humans are learning creatures too. We evaluate antecedents, behave upon them, and experience consequences for our behavior. No differently than your dog would. If you've recognized your dog's cue to potty, you're likely to prefer the consequence of knowing you're dog's bladder is empty versus the piddle puddle he leaves for you on the carpet. I don't think though these cues tell you how the dog feels about piddling on the grass or the carpet, or if he's choosing to piddle on the grass for you.

Do I know what the voice in his head is saying, no. But that doesn't mean I'm totally in the dark about what he's thinking.
Here's how I deal with this evaluation. If what I've concluded about my dog's thoughts benefit my dog...I'm okay to imagine with as colorful of a canvas as my brain will paint. If, however, my conclusion does not benefit my dog from her POV, I need to control all possible antecedents to minimize the use of punitive consequences. Dominance theory or as it is sometimes called pack theory, doesn't approach it from an antecedent control standpoint. The dog is this, therefore, do this to the dog is dominance theory. A recipe for disaster IMO.
 

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Loved the CP-ABC explanation, only problem were I attempt to explain that to my customers it would be a rough road. It's much easier on them and me to use a pack-leader explanation. I use a disclaimer telling them that it is just my way and wording that I use and not necessarily written in stone.
 

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Its obvious one can not control environment (to a degree thought) but Behavior and Consequences can be controlled and guided gently pushing your dog towards where YOU think he needs to go. Why would he do it? I would think because he looks up to you, because you had been directing him all his life, because he respects and loves you, because you are his leader. What if environment changes to the situation dog never been to before? I would think you want the dog to "ask" you about the guidance - Sit, Heel, Lay, Wait, etc whatever it might be appropriate. Please, understand that i am not saying that dog must ask you for every little movement and action. NO NO! That is not what i mean. But in unfamiliar situation, i personally believe, dog needs to look at the handler for directions on actions. That is why its important to be there and provide your dog with that guidance or after a few times i would think that dog will figure that handler is no guidance to him and will take matters in his own paws.

That is what I think anyhow. :)
 

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That is why its important to be there and provide your dog with that guidance or after a few times i would think that dog will figure that handler is no guidance to him and will take matters in his own paws.
I think the point I would make is that it's not necessary to evoke pack theory to make this happen. It's not as if the dog has a choice in how we are to be responsible owners. But we seem to often blame the dog when we lose sense of that responsibility, and I don't think we should question the dog's nature in doing so.

Yes, some environments are more challenging than others and they can be difficult to control. My approach to that environment is no different if it were less challenging. I'm still manipulating the antecedent the best I can, and the consequence the best I can. In the end, I want the dog to choose a behavior that benefits both him and I. If he chosen one that benefits only him, it is my responsibility as his owner to restrain the dog for his safety and mine. The decision of leadership is not in question here, it is a responsibility. It is not necessary to think pack structure for this to be true.
 

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Yes, i generally agree. Perhaps maybe not a PACK theory but still dog looks up to you and therefore you ARE his leader/handler/guider/older bro/daddy/mommy/weird tall friend/whatever you want to call self. I do believe in that.
 
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