The truth about alpha dogs
If you think your puppy believes it is an alpha dog, you might feel reassured in knowing that all alpha has been debunked by numerous studies and research on the topic.
Here’s the thing: In past decades, owners are often reminded of the importance of asserting their authority over their dogs because dogs were thought to play the alpha role in their “pack”, that is, the owner and family.
The basis of this theory was very popular in the past due to the fact that it was assumed that since dogs are descended from wolves, their behaviors should reflect that of wolves. Therefore, in order to gain access to power, it was important for dog owners to have alpha status because wolves in captivity have an alpha responsible.
This belief has led to decades of harsh training techniques including alpha rolls, nape wagging, and adherence to many “pack rules” such as always eating before the dog, not allowing the dog to sleep on the bed, not letting dogs out of doorways first and never letting the dog walk In front of its owner.
Today, fortunately, we have a better understanding of wolf and dog behavior than we did 30 years ago.
1) Dogs are not wolves
First, we know that dogs are not wolves, but there are many differences between wolves and dogs. Thanks to domestication, many changes have occurred in dogs from a morphological and behavioral perspective.
So while it is true nowadays that most scientists agree that our domesticated dog (the familiar Canis lupus) is descended from a wolf (Canis lupus), comparing our dogs to wolves is similar to comparing modern humans (Homo sapiens) to great apes.
2) Wolves live as families
Second, research by David Meek revealed that the behaviors of wolves held in captivity were very different from the behavior of free wolves that Schinkel had previously studied.
Schinkel’s initial studies of wolves in captivity showed that groups of wolves that lived together were monitored through a strict pecking arrangement imposed by violent interactions between alpha wolves and their subordinates.
On the other hand, Mech studies of freely roaming wolves revealed that the social structure of wolves living together was primarily family units with adult parents directing their offspring. So this latest study revolutionized how we interact with and train our dogs.
When referring to Schinkel’s studies, David Meek notes: “Attempting to apply information about the behavior of unrelated captive groups of wolves to the natural structure of the pack family has led to a great deal of confusion. This approach is similar to trying to draw conclusions about the dynamics of the human family by studying people in camps. refugees. “
3) Humans are not a dog
Many would ask, “If dogs and wolves are free-range and create a hierarchy of control among themselves, shouldn’t they apply them to humans as well?”
“There are no species in the animal kingdom that create hierarchies of control with other species,” explains Dr. Amy Pike, veterinary behaviorist and technician Jesse. “When it comes to a dog’s response to their humans, dogs are naturally late to our desires.” Sheep in an article published in Veterinary Practice News. If the owner believes that the dog is not listening and following instructions, then he should consider possible causes for this and remove the notion of “dominant dog” from the list. “
Everything revolves around this. Dogs know the fact that we are humans not dogs and bond with us accordingly. Their strong noses know we don’t smell dogs.
Research has shown that dogs respond to our gestures, stare into our eyes and interact with us humans in the same way that young children interact with their parents. Even when given the opportunity to choose their species, dogs prefer to rely on us humans for both affection and protection.
Even when humans and dogs live together, they are unlikely to be considered a career bundle. Mark Bikoff, professor emeritus of ecology, notes that “There is really no data to support that a dog or two living with humans really constitute a narrow, multispecies working group in the same sense as some free-range dogs or their wild relatives.” Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado.
So why would a puppy behave like an alpha?
So, if alpha dogs aren’t what we thought, why would they sometimes act as if they were vying for first place? For example, why does a puppy push me out when he has a bone? Isn’t that a sign that he thinks it’s alpha and is protecting a resource from me?
Sure, it sounds like this, but there are other dynamics going on. Sure, if we see a little boy holding tight to a doll and saying something along the lines of: “It’s mine! Don’t touch him! We never thought she was doing it because she wishes Alpha! There are other dynamics in play.
The question of distrust
If the puppy roars over the bone, the cause of wastage is more than a fear of losing access to a resource than anything else. He may have experienced situations that made him feel insecure, such as petting his friends while eating or repeatedly removing the food bowl for a test.
Often owners are not aware that these subtle behaviors can protect the resources in their dogs, although they instead believe that they are discouraging them.
When a puppy grows or bursts and the other person or dog retreats, the growling and biting behavior is reinforced and thus, the pup is likely to use this strategy again the next time he feels threatened by someone who gets too close to his food.
A vicious circle soon forms, as the person challenges the puppy and the puppy reacts to more and more escalated behavior as the confidence of those close to him decreases while eating.
Thus, the solution to the program is not a demotion program, but rather a behavior modification that aims through desensitization and reverse conditioning to teach the puppy that when people approach him, they are not trying to steal his food, rather they really want to start adding an appetite to his plate.
A history of punishment
At times, puppies may appear to act like an “alpha” when they have a history of physical blame (scruff flickering, alpha coils, muzzle carriers) or being subjected to punitive training methods.
Although these puppies or dogs are not really an alpha, they simply engage in defensive aggression. In other words, they are only trying to defend themselves from actions that make them feel uncomfortable or threatened. These puppies often fear their owners.
A typical example is a puppy or dog that has engaged in unwanted behavior and the owner intervenes to correct the puppy physically. The puppy may initially try to flee, hide, or display calming body language to avoid confrontation, but when cornered, with this flying instinct removed, he may engage in a fight.
So the puppy or dog may chop its teeth or try to pounce, which the owner may see as the puppy’s way to challenge him when the puppy is just trying to defend himself and get out of a scary situation without getting hurt.
According to a study by Herron M.E. And Shofer F.S. And Reisner I.R. In 2009, it was found that multiple coping techniques such as alpha rolling, scratching, or dog kicking for unwanted behavior elicited an aggressive response from at least a quarter of dogs.
These researchers, therefore, pointed out the risks associated with such training methods emphasizing the importance of gentle guidance and safe management of behavior problems.
Lack of training
If the puppy walks in front of me on picnics, or jumps on me, nibbles me or pushes me out of the door, does that not make it so? If he’s not an alpha, then why does he engage in these behaviors?
- Often the behaviors that new puppies think of “want to be alpha” simply stem from a lack of training. Here’s the thing: Puppies that are raised without any kind of training or guidance will likely develop into dogs that instinctively surrender to their instinctive impulses.
This means that they will pull on the leash, jump on people and steal food on the counters because they have not learned anything better.
It is a bit like a little kid growing up without direction and thus is allowed to grab people’s possessions, interrupt adult speech, throw tantrums, draw graffiti, never sit and throw toys. not good!
Of course, again, we never thought that young children act like alpha in these situations! Same thing in dogs.
With more recent research, it has been discovered that dogs that pull on the leash do not do this because they are alpha type, but just because they are eager to smell or meet other dogs or pull dogs, dogs that jump on people do not get a higher ranking, but only to say hello Or to get attention and dogs push you out of the way, just do so because you are on a path that you are trying to get close to. Kind of like a kid who can’t contain his enthusiasm and has poor impulse control.
In simple words, dogs act the way they do because they only act on their impulses, and training is just a way to teach dogs better impulse control and better tolerance of frustration.
So the next time you think your puppy or dog is an alpha, remember that your canine companion does not want to become a “group leader” and control your life. Instead of considering a demotion program, consider instilling a foundation of confidence and aim to train your dog in gentle ways, while ensuring that his physical, emotional and mental needs are met.