Social dominance?

Get to know other Positively members here.

Moderators: emmabeth, BoardHost

User avatar
Nettle
Posts: 10707
Joined: Sun Apr 13, 2008 1:40 pm

Re: Social dominance?

Post by Nettle » Thu Mar 07, 2019 8:54 am

This is so apt:

For example, the humping being "social dominance".... the dogs I typically see engage in that behavior fall into either very tired, over excited dogs in need of a break. Or an anxious dog trying to deal with the world around them. Both those descriptions provide much more useful information and are based on observation of behavior, not what a dog is "thinking".

Also lovely handling of a social dilemma by the husky, who was effectively saying: "You can interact with me but mind your manners because I'll stop our discussion if you forget yourself" and by doing so is teaching Mr. Mastiff how to behave. But gently, no over-the-top stuff. And Mr. Mastiff is responding in the best way he knows how to, and he IS learning.
A dog is never bad or naughty - it is simply being a dog

SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS

JudyN
Posts: 6971
Joined: Tue Jul 26, 2011 1:20 pm
Location: Dorset, UK
Contact:

Re: Social dominance?

Post by JudyN » Thu Mar 07, 2019 2:35 pm

Nettle wrote:
Thu Mar 07, 2019 8:54 am
For example, the humping being "social dominance".... the dogs I typically see engage in that behavior fall into either very tired, over excited dogs in need of a break. Or an anxious dog trying to deal with the world around them. Both those descriptions provide much more useful information and are based on observation of behavior, not what a dog is "thinking".
That certainly sounds like Jasper when he gets humpy. Do you think it can also come fron frustration (like when I've been playing with J at floor level and then stand up to leave)? And can it be a form of bullying (like when J was guarding me from Eddie) too? I get the impression that 'paws on the back' is bad manners, so 'body over the back' could be even more so. Or is it just because there's a level of anxiety in both these instances?
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

jacksdad
Posts: 4879
Joined: Thu Dec 10, 2009 10:48 pm

Re: Social dominance?

Post by jacksdad » Thu Mar 07, 2019 9:31 pm

JudyN wrote:
Thu Mar 07, 2019 3:26 am
...so there is an element of status involved, even if it's not fixed.
Yes. But in my opinion based on what I have read and observed directly (and this is just my opinion), status isn't synonymous with vertical hierarchy (aka pecking order), rather status (and it may not be the best word) is a lot about how you can inter act with another individual. Can I pop this other dog with my paw....oh ya I can. Can I mount this dog...oooops nope she isn't going tolerate that, better mind my Ps and Qs around her. it's working out how to fit into the social situation the dog finds it's self in. If I nip this dog's neck...it will chase me woohoooo..

Then there is the question of why a dog will do those things. there are many reasons. as already suggested, anxious, social awkward, OOOR another reason that is often overlooked...the dog has been reinforced for doing X (X being something we and other dogs see as rude) in order to get what they want...a playmate, attention etc. human example...how many think that toddler being annoying to get the adult to play with them is dominate over the adult human? not much different in my opinion with dogs. some dogs can and will use rude and annoying behavior to get what they want. Attention, food, play, etc, etc. some know no other way. Some are trying to deal with being anxious and are just trying to cope.

There are a lot of functions for behaviors other than "trying to be in charge", aka "dominance/dominate".
JudyN wrote:
Thu Mar 07, 2019 3:26 am
maybe it's an ego thing (people like the idea that their dog is 'high-ranking')
OMG! do not get me started on that topic. But, again going by observation...YES!!! some people seem to like the idea they have some special kind of dog that only they can control. And having a "dominant" dog provides a ego boost for them. makes them "special".

jacksdad
Posts: 4879
Joined: Thu Dec 10, 2009 10:48 pm

Re: Social dominance?

Post by jacksdad » Thu Mar 07, 2019 10:06 pm

Nettle wrote:
Thu Mar 07, 2019 8:54 am
Also lovely handling of a social dilemma by the husky, who was effectively saying: "You can interact with me but mind your manners because I'll stop our discussion if you forget yourself" and by doing so is teaching Mr. Mastiff how to behave. But gently, no over-the-top stuff. And Mr. Mastiff is responding in the best way he knows how to, and he IS learning.
EXACTLY!

It was an amazing interaction to watch. I wish i could have caught it on camera. That social interaction was really a "life altering" experience for him. He was putty in her paws. :lol:

Mr Mastiff taught me a lot. Like Jack (my dog), he was his own "dog behavior university". Biggest lesson I learned from him...don't be tied to protocols/the "book". focus on principles. I had followed "the book" and tried to use sit as an alternate behavior when someone was leaving the house to keep him from charging out the door. wow did that back fire...after two repetitions he refused to sit for me for over 6 months...he had learned to associate me leaving with siting...verse being stubborn and dominate. he sat just fine for his people, and had previously for me as well...but after sit predicted my leaving...he stopped sitting for me for 6 months. I got him to sit again, but didn't see that one coming.

Another example with Mr. Mastiff. By Not viewing behavior through the lens of everything is "dominance" with dogs saved me is when he suddenly started to grab my arm in his mouth. Not easy to stay calm with a 100lbs mastiff hanging on your arm. But the best explanation I have was this was his version of "grabbing" my hand when in a panic. By staying calm, and not jumping to "dominance" assumptions, i was able to stay focus on what I knew of him, what his behavior (his whole body, not just where is mouth was) was "telling" me. I had seen him "angry" and with a hard blood chilling stare back when I first met him...none of that was "there". just panic.

His people treat him like a king, he wants for nothing, he is well loved, but they were not physically able to take him on walks. so I was taking him for a walk 3 days a week and playing with him for the better part of about 3 years. And because he was scared in those early days, protecting him from scary. needless to say we got closer than typical for a dog and trainer.

User avatar
Nettle
Posts: 10707
Joined: Sun Apr 13, 2008 1:40 pm

Re: Social dominance?

Post by Nettle » Fri Mar 08, 2019 3:41 am

That's plain lovely, jacksdad.

This morning, after another irritating he-just-wants-to-say-hello interaction, I thought about a parallel people situation. I often match people situations with dog behaviour because there are some striking similarities, and often, giving owners the people equivalent helps them understand better what is happening - because of course ALL dogs want to BE FRIENDS with All dogs - don't they?

It's when someone wants you to do something you don't want to do.
You say no, politely.
They keep on. You say no less politely. They keep on. You say no very firmly. They keep on.

They only stop when you roar NO. Sometimes they STILL keep on. Finally you really go for it in whatever manner suits your character.

Then they say huffily "There's no need to be like that."

But - with some - there is.

To me, that is a type of bullying.
A dog is never bad or naughty - it is simply being a dog

SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS

JudyN
Posts: 6971
Joined: Tue Jul 26, 2011 1:20 pm
Location: Dorset, UK
Contact:

Re: Social dominance?

Post by JudyN » Fri Mar 08, 2019 4:57 am

That scenario is so familiar to me, Nettle - with J as the pestered one and often a lab as the pesterer. The ones that make me laugh are when J finally goes 'RRRRAAAAARRRHHHHH!!!' and the other dog goes scarpering back to his owners to complain about the nasty pointy dog.

Though there's also the scenario where they both want to play, one is completely over the top, controlling and maybe humping, and the other one, although clearly not happy, still wants to play and keeps coming back for more, only to get duffed up again under the pretext of play. Relating this to humans - according to my mum, this is very similar to me and my older brother when young (without the humping, I hasten to add). One moment I'd come to her crying, the next I'd be right back again asking for more. (This was also J and a cockerpoo friend, with J being the OTT one. I intervened after Nettle said that humping was self-rewarding and could become a habit and J seems to have got bored of playing with his friend anyway.)

Reading the original article by Victoria, she (or whoever edited it) seems to be equating 'social dominance' with 'controlling behaviour'. But though it's easy to see them as similar ('I'm in control here, you have to do what I say'), in a way they are complete opposites. cf the boss who everyone respects and trusts, so is motivated to follow his lead and direction, vs the boss who feels s/he has to come down on you like a ton of bricks to demonstrate their authority and status. Correspondingly, I think a lot of J's behaviour that people might see as 'dominance' is a need to feel in control born of insecurity.
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

Post Reply