Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Canine Dominance or Leadership Styles

"If Hemi does this all the time, she is well reinforced for the behavior. If I am giving you what you want all the time; I'd say that makes you dominant over me or just a spoiled brat about to get your butt handed to you. Which do you think it is?"

Spoiled brat is right. Hit the nail on the head. Behavior is so complicated!
Mels replies are in italics.
"You say that Hemi's mom is the boss dog, what does her dominance/leadership style look like?"
(Also Shaker's mom)
She is very "quiet" about it. You would never know she's the boss walking in the house at random moments. She definately controls resources when it matters. Most times there is nothing to fight over, spoiled house dogs, plenty of food, plenty of bones, plenty of soft squishy places to lay... Certain times it is quite evident. When new meaty bones are out she can approach any dog in the house and gently take their bone. No one will contest. Often when they are handed out she will inspect each one and she gets to choose the one she wants first. She is the only one with this ability. When the other bitches are in season, she controls Stoney's (the intact male) proximity to them. He is not allowed around the other bitches. Period. This is the only time she can be "ferocious". She especially exerts this when the bitches are coming out of season and don't want male attention. In day to day life there is not much exciting.
Dominance/leadership styles vary; don't they?
The obvious here I am, I'll take what I want styles all can see. When Blondie arrives on the scene, she heads straight to the food dish. No matter whose head is in it. She bumps into dogs on the way in without a care. She's tough and athletic, so is her style. She is also a me-me girl.

Blondie's status comes from the fact that she can and will kick butt.

Nilla, Shaker's mom is an example of a more subtle leadership style. These are the leaders that fascinate me the most. Anyone with a subtle leader in their pack, please, tell us about how your dog leads.
The more subtle leadership styles we miss much of the time. And why wouldn't we miss subtlety in a dog?

We are a verbal species, yet if we don't see the speaker communication becomes more difficult. Body language is a part of our repertoire, just nod your head.

Imagine what we would know about each other if you could hear the other's heart race or read each because we could smell the change in body chemistry.

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