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Our girls are 4 1/2 months old already. We still can't decide who is the alpha dog. Are they too young yet to tell? They are from the same litter. Sometimes Maggie seems like she is alpha when it comes to food and play. Bust mostly she just eats faster. Then when we are out walking, Flash HAS to have the lead. How can we tell?

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Our girls are 4 1/2 months old already. We still can't decide who is the alpha dog. Are they too young yet to tell? They are from the same litter. Sometimes Maggie seems like she is alpha when it comes to food and play. Bust mostly she just eats faster. Then when we are out walking, Flash HAS to have the lead. How can we tell?[/b]

Thats because the whole "alpha Dog" concept is more myth than reality and certainly not something you want to base any interaction you have with the dogs one. In the end if you honestly look at it you will find one that is more interested in certain things than the other, This is often mislabled as being "ALpha" one that has to be on the couch not the chair etc but you will find it is not always the same dog. Nom if the reason you are asking this is so you can "support the Alpha" then you need to reasses your thinking because it rarely works, not because of some instutional flaw in the theory but because humans general are not capable of such callus discrimination. A much better way of controling so called "status" proplems in a multi dog hosehold is not to have a alpha, because simply having a heirarchy creates advantages to moving up much better to have all omega. This is done basically by teaching the dogs defference. Far to often the ruder/bolder more Pain in the A$$ dog is rewarded over the more easy to live with dog. Is it any wonder the household decend into caos. However if one actively rewards the quite dog, the dog with more self control all the while working individully with the dog with less self control the household becomes more peaceful over time. This is the basic concept of FEELING OUTNUMBERED? - HOW TO MANAGE & ENJOY A MULTI-DOG available in both DVD and booklet format I can't speak for the DVD but the booklet is more than worth the price . For a Fair review click here
The guiding premise of the booklet is the value of teaching "polite, patient, and respectful" behaviors and making a conscious effort to reinforce these in situations where dogs might otherwise be pushy and demanding. The authors point out that, left unguided, many dogs will get pushier as they grasp for their own rewards, resulting in a mob of rude, potentially contentious dogs.

...To their credit, London & McConnell don't focus on identifying and favoring the most dominant dog, nor on allowing dogs to work out their own conflicts. Rather, they stress that, "The best way to prevent status-related aggression... is to be a calm and confident leader, projecting a sense of benevolent power."[/b]

Pack hierarchy myth and theory abouind in human-dog interactionand most of them are just that myth.

1. dogs are not pack animals, they do not naturally form packs in the wild ( feral dog) they will however loose informal social groups that are tranisient at best

2. Pack heirarchy asscoiated with the dog comes from wolf studies that were severly flawed in the 30-50 studying wolves in capativity in over crowdeded condition. Those that study wolves in the wild say the natural arrangment of a "wolf Pack" is that of a family a mother father and off spring. Dominance displays, actions etc are unheard of.

3. Expert who espouse pack therory as it relates to dogs can even agree how dog arainge them selfs and a such can't agree when observing the same group of dogs wich is dominate or submissive.

4. So called dominance reducing exercise( dogs fed last, no dogs on the bed or elevated areas, humans walk ahead etc) have not shown to reduce aggression in dogs.

5. there are better tools like behavioral theory to explain how dog learn , think and interact with other dogs and humans than pack hierarchy.

domance theory myth links

<a href="" target="_blank">The Social Organization of the Domestic Dog
A Longitudinal Study of Domestic Canine Behavior and the Ontogeny of Canine Social Systemsr</a>
Not the easiest of reads :rolleyes:
the short version with liberties would go something like this. While dogs are always looking out for their own intrests they are contious of the other various individuals in their suroundings and interests as well. To avoid conflict they take into acount others best interests as well. Fore expample Duke the oldest dog is a bit arthritic envariable ends up with the best sleeping spot because this is the most important thing in the world to him, and quite frankly the difference between one dog bed or another dosen't really matter to the others. while for rex the two year old has domaine over the toys and ...
To expect dog packs or any animal society to work simply on a linear heirachy is nieve.

Myth 29: The domestic dog is a naturally aggressive species

10 life-threatening behavior myths
"Dogs that are aggressive are acting dominant."
Aggression is more likely due to fear or anxiety than to dominance. The terms dominance and dominance aggression are probably the most overused and misapplied terms related to animal care today. And worse, a misunderstanding of aggression and dominance has resulted in training methods that make no sense from an ethological point of view and can cause a lot of harm.[/b]
Position Statement on the Use of Dominance Theory in Behavior Modification of Animals by American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior

Debunking the Dominance Myth
So-called dominance exercises were — and in some circles still are — widely recommended to
prevent the dog from taking over the entire household. These exercises include not feeding him
until after you’ve eaten, letting him through doorways only after you, forbidding access to
furniture, and not playing tug-of-war.
In reality, there is no evidence that these procedures prevent dominance aggression or any other
behavioral problem. One study found no correlation between playing tug-of-war or allowing a
dog on the bed and the development of aggressive behavior.[/b]
What ever happened to the Term Alpha Wolf?
For example, 19 prominent wolf biologists from both Europe and North America never mentioned the term alpha in a long article on breeding pairs of wolves. The article, titled “The Effects of Breeder Loss on Wolves,” was published in a 2008 issue of the Journal of Wildlife
Management. In the 448-page, 2003 book Wolves: Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation, edited by Luigi Boitani and myself and written by 23 authors, alpha is mentioned in only six places and then only to explain why the term is outdated. What gives?

This change in terminology reflects an important shift in our thinking about wolf social behavior. Rather than viewing a wolf pack as a group of animals organized with a “top dog” that fought its way to the top, or a male-female pair of such aggressive wolves, science has come to understand that most wolf packs are merely family groups formed exactly the same way as human families are formed. That is, maturing male and female wolves from different packs disperse, travel around until they find each other and an area vacant of other wolves but with adequate prey,court, mate, and produce their own litter of pups.[/b]
Dogs and humans are alien to each other and our societies have different rules and mores. If our
household were in fact a canine pack then we should have to expect to live by dogs’ rules, and that is
clearly impossible. Dogs must live by human rules, which means that dogs have to surrender their
ordinary modes of interaction insofar as they are interacting with humans and not other dogs.
This fact alone tells us that our relationship with our dogs is not intraspecific but interspecific. The
same actions which if directed by one member of a given species against another member of that
species would lead to some settling of hierarchy and order take on a far different quality when
directed by a member of one species against a member of another species. As Lindsay suggests, our
acts of physical “discipline” are in fact a form of interspecific aggression.[/b]
Beyond the "Dominance" Paradigm

The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory

<a href="" target="_blank">" Being the Alpha
The Truth About Dominance</a>
Most of your dog's behavior is driven by one of two things:
1. Instinct
This would include fear responses of fight and flight, hunting (frequently manifesting itself in the form of cat chasing), herding breeds nipping, and puppies mouthing. These behaviors are not driven by a status struggle. They are traits carried over from dogs' wild ancestors and/or traits humans have selectively bred for in order to enable the dog perform a given task such as herding or hunting.

2. Training
I don't mean formal obedience training. I mean conditioning. Your dog has learned which behaviors get him what he wants.[/b]


Some Thoughts on letting go of the Dominance Paradigm in Training DogsBy Beth Duman (Court certified wolf expert and dog trainer)

“Pack Leader” Myths

How Wolves became dogs

Controversial origins of the domestic dog

The trouble with being the alpha dog

New Study Finds Popular “Alpha Dog” Training Techniques Can Cause More Harm Than Good
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