Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Dominance Theory/Making Eye Contact

What was the first thing they told us as kids when interacting with a dog? Put your hand in a fist and offer it to the dog to sniff before attempting to pet, but also, DON'T STARE A DOG IN THE EYES!

I work with someone who believes in the totally archaic Dominance Theory. Today I playfully amped Seppel up to go after the guy, and he proceeds to stare Seppel down. This guy is 6ft+ and is challenging my dog by staring at him. Seppel felt threatened and responded by barking at him.

I was like "Are you really staring him down?" And he says "He needs to know his place." I was like "You really believe in that dominance theory stuff still." He said "Yeah. You believe in training a dog to be aggressive." I said "It's not about aggression, it's about obedience." He stalked off saying we would agree to disagree.

You wouldn't stare a dog down for any reason other than to intimidate them. A submissive dog, or a dog who lacks confidence will look away, or get small. A confident dog who recognizes what he perceives as a threat is going to bark and challenge the person staring. Seppel is saying, 'Why are you looking at me like that? You're making me uncomfortable. Stop doing that." He's not trying to be boss, he's not trying to be nasty, he's saying he's not comfortable. I also believe that a fearful dog may react the same way. They aren't saying "I'm so boss!" They are saying "You are freaking me out."

I wish the dominance theory would just hurry up and die.

I would like to add also that yes, I am doing bitework with my Pit Bull. It's a GAME, I don't think he would actually go after someone who was not wearing a suit. If he did, the situation would probably have to be very serious and he would have to be feeding off of my actions. The thing that gets him going for bitework is a bite sleeve and a bite suit. He has never bitten a hidden sleeve or a human arm. When he's given a bite he is given the sleeve - like a toy - as a reward. As we continue to progress in training more commands will come into play, he will bite when told, he will release when told. Slowly he is learning to control his impulses without even knowing that is what we are doing. I would like to think he would go after a person if necessary, but this type of training is for us to go to trial and work for a title, it really doesn't resemble or mimic any sort of real life situation, at least not at this point.

I just have to remind myself that people tend to be against things that they don't full understand or are afraid of. I will continue learning different ways of training, educate myself on different dog sports, try to be as well rounded of a handler as I can be. I'm also not going to worry about my dog appropriately responding to a threatening situation.

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