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  #1  
Old 02-14-2013, 02:44 PM
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Unhappy 'Dominance theory' - making Cooper scared?

Hi guys!

Since getting Cooper I have done a lot of research (reading, advice from breeders and vets) on correct ways to interact with your dog, understanding doggy body language and correct ways to train. Almost everything I found talked about how humans NEED to dominate and be the 'pack leader' by doing things like walking through doors first, walking ahead of the dog, eating before the dog, getting the dog to allow you to touch his food etc. It seemed reasonable and these sources claimed that if you don't, the dog gets upset as there is no 'leader' and this is distressing for the dog and may 'force him to become the leader' which can be dangerous.

What I am noticing however is that Cooper just seems terrified when he thinks I will be upset (Say if he runs through a door first and I tell him 'Cooper no'. He just gets extremely submissive (flops onto his back etc) and looks really scared which BREAKS my heart. I do NOT want him to be scared of me!
I also notice he does this when I do something he doesn't want to do (for example when I open the living room door and he runs to the couch and jumps on and I walk over to pick him up off it. He will just flop on to his back like he is scared of me and do that 'whale eye' thing that dogs do when they aren't happy/about to bite/scared/unsure.

I have never hit him (nor would I) or do anything to make him so scared other than tell him off when I see him doing something naughty, such as in pee in the house, chewing the walls etc. To which he gets a "no!". It is beginning to make me think all this 'dominance' thing is just crap. And then I came across an article saying as much.

Using 'Dominance' To Explain Dog Behavior Is Old Hat

The thing that makes me the most sad is that Cooper has always been super submissive to people (always flopping onto his back, showing his belly, avoiding prolonged eye contact, getting down lower etc). Even in the morning when I walk out to greet him he gets super excited but goes to 'flop onto his back' which I try to get down low and avoid eye contact so that he 'trusts' me more and realises he doesn't have to do that. (Which works! I see him go to do the flop and and soon as I get low etc he then comes towards me and starts cuddles/kisses etc)

My question is I feel fearful now that we may have practised these dominance things too much that Cooper may be fearful/scared of us.
Remembering he was always like this - what are some things I can do now to reverse this and build the trust? I feel so bad

Thanks everyone xx
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  #2  
Old 02-14-2013, 03:24 PM
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I believe, like with kids, dogs are all different. Not one type of training for all.

It sounds like Cooper will respond to positive training, instead of telling him no, really praise him when he does something he is supposed. Also, what about clicker training! Have you check it out? I don't have much luck with it. I am not coordinated enough. I have inadvertently come to use "good boy" as a clicker substitute.
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Old 02-14-2013, 03:33 PM
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I have had dogs for 30 years in groups of 3 and never had any problems. I believe in tough love, training tailored to the individual dog is the key. Just like children, they are not generic and neither are animals.

When I say tough love. I mean being kind but firm. Dogs are dogs and they are happier if they are taught boundaries and are allowed to be dogs first and foremost. xx
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Old 02-14-2013, 03:45 PM
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Just last night I had to be "tough" with Angel. He wouldn't stay away from the sink and stove area in my tiny kitchen. So I put him in his crate for a few minutes, 2 or 3 times, only for about 1 minute. All night long he trailed me and stayed in my lap! He is usually in hubby's lap. hehehe. And he is by no means, submissive! It took quite a while for him to learn that he is not the leader! In fact, I am still working on some issues with him.

So, I agree with Rubbianne. You have to be firm, but it can also be kind, sort of!
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Old 02-14-2013, 03:47 PM
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Yes I totally agree! I still think Cooper needs to be told 'no' when he does something very wrong, praise him like no tomorrow when he does something (even little) right and have clear boundaries, but I mean the general 'dominance' that these things teach seems to be too excessive for him. (Us eating first, going through doors first etc) It seems to have made him scared of us at times. I don't want him to always feel like he has to do 'submissive gestures' as he is doing now when we just walk over to him for example.

Although maybe that's my fault, thinking back, every time he does flop on to his back I try to 'reassure' him by ignoring that behaviour and just petting etc but that's probably just led him to think he is being praised for being submissive!

However what I wanted to know is if anyone had any exercises or techniques to teach Cooper he doesn't have to be submissive ALL the time and to trust us more/relax more etc.
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Old 02-14-2013, 04:28 PM
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I am not big on the whole pack theory thing but I certainly do expect manners.

I was all worried about who was the alpha dog and have now been told by 2 trainer/behaviorists groups that my dogs work really well as a unit and I need to get over which of them is the alpha so I have.

Treats are only given for a reason. They are very limited and given when they do things I want and need them to do. They do not get them because they expect them or because I want to "spoil" them. There is no mistaking that I am who they listen to and follow. You will never read a post here from me saying that my dogs "rule the roost" or how they get to do what they want because they are cute. Operating like that would be a HUGE disservice to them. Just like with my human kids, they have learned to mind.

I use the words, "manners" and "pleasant" when they are getting annoyed with each other and I promise that even without yelling, they all know and do not like the word, "naughty".

They sit before receiving a treat and they wait for their name to be spoken to begin eating from their dish. I feed all on one placemat and we have zero issues with anyone eating from anyone else's dish. They also have no issue if I shift their dish while they are eating or reach in to add or take away food.

As a result, everyone knows the rules and it has made them happy and relaxed.

A motto of our in-home trainers I think says it best-LEAD: So they follow. TRAIN: So they win. EDUCATE: So they understand.
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  #7  
Old 02-14-2013, 04:36 PM
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Default 'Dominance theory' - making Cooper scared?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jesuschick View Post
I am not big on the whole pack theory thing but I certainly do expect manners.

I was all worried about who was the alpha dog and have now been told by 2 trainer/behaviorists groups that my dogs work really well as a unit and I need to get over which of them is the alpha so I have.

Treats are only given for a reason. They are very limited and given when they do things I want and need them to do. They do not get them because they expect them or because I want to "spoil" them. There is no mistaking that I am who they listen to and follow. You will never read a post here from me saying that my dogs "rule the roost" or how they get to do what they want because they are cute. Operating like that would be a HUGE disservice to them. Just like with my human kids, they have learned to mind.

I use the words, "manners" and "pleasant" when they are getting annoyed with each other and I promise that even without yelling, they all know and do not like the word, "naughty".

They sit before receiving a treat and they wait for their name to be spoken to begin eating from their dish. I feed all on one placemat and we have zero issues with anyone eating from anyone else's dish. They also have no issue if I shift their dish while they are eating or reach in to add or take away food.

As a result, everyone knows the rules and it has made them happy and relaxed.

A motto of our in-home trainers I think says it best-LEAD: So they follow. TRAIN: So they win. EDUCATE: So they understand.
This is excellent advice. I've followed much of Karen's advice with Toby and he is better for it. I've benefited from the money she's put into training, that's for sure!

I tend to shy away from the idea of "alpha". Toby knows I am in charge. He listens when I calmly and assertively give him a command. He certainly knows that I am the boss- he doesn't question it. When he is scared or nervous, he comes to me. I give him confidence and strength. I think that is how you can tell a good leader.


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  #8  
Old 02-14-2013, 04:42 PM
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Saving treats for a very good reason is a great point you have Jesuschick, and definitely something i need to work on (sometimes I feel guilty I am leaving the house and give him a treat to distract him) but it sounds like I will need to stop that!
You have a lot of greats tips/knowlege and experience there!

The only thing is discipline/training/manners etc isn't really a problem. He is very well aware of boundaries and that we are in charge and he needs to follow rules. / The problem is Coopers reaction to a lot of things that he doesn't need to be submissive over- If I just take him off the couch he acts submissively, If I just walk over to him to say hello etc. So I was hoping for things I can do to more build trust and so that he learns to not be scared of things like that and that he doesn't have to be submissive over those things.
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