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Questions about Pack Hiearchy

1880 Views 21 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Skylar
I have been told by my trainer to always treat Sam first before Lucy and ensure Sam that he is higher up in the pack and I have done that. But I picked up a book someone recommended on here called "Feeling Outnumbered" and it talks about how as the pack leader, you should let them know there is no #2 position available and once that is established then there is no competition for position and they are happy just all being on the same rank. I was wondering what others thought of this...
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I don't know much about it so this is just my opinion.  But I agree with the book.  Duke and Tabs fight all the time, not physically but Duke will try and kick her off the chair and Tabs will bark at Duke and growl.  She won't snap at him or anything.  But I know its Duke trying to prove he is above her because he will sit in the chair until Tabs is comfy somewhere else and then go kick her off of that.
That makes sense to me...i wonder why the trainer would want one to be higher than the other?..imo that will only lead to conflict
Those are just two different schools of thought.  I have heard of both ways as well.  The first being to reinforce the "alpha" dog by doing what your trainer said and also that the owner should be first and then all the dogs. I would suggest doing some more reading and see which you agree with more :)
Personally I don't try to mess with the reinforcing alpha dog position thing either.
After reading the book, it makes total sense to me that you should be first and all dogs below in no particular order. But according to the trainer, we should feed, treat, and give affection to Sam first, then Lucy. So, now my question is once I have done this, is it possible to treat them as equals? Won't this cause more confusion with them?
I think they would get over any influence the "first dog treatment" had pretty quickly, I mean... you certainly don't have to keep doing it forever :)
How is Sam doing at the fence with Lucy?
I do believe you must treat all your dogs equal, otherwise behavioral problems could creep in.   I guess in special situations I could see a different approach.

Although in the wild, wolf packs do have rankings all the way down from the alpha position.  The beta dogs are in the second spot, and although they know their place, I believe they do try to line themselves up to take over the alpha spot.  So just from a common sense standpoint, that's not a good situation for a dog owner to welcome.
g00dgirl\";p=\"79578 said:
I think they would get over any influence the "first dog treatment" had pretty quickly, I mean... you certainly don't have to keep doing it forever :)
How is Sam doing at the fence with Lucy?
Actually, they still act crazy but it has toned down considerably for most passerbys. There are still some dogs that pass by that get under Sam's skin but we are working on it. I think Lucy has learned to stand further back though and let Sam do his thing. She is pretty sharp!  :D
Haha, that is very smart of her- she found the solution all by herself :)
we alternate treats, food etc first.  One meal, I give it to Bo first, the other, Jetta.  Treats the same...even letting them out to potty...both of them seem to be about real "alpha" and "beta".  Sure...Jetta will sometimes * I think* try to hump Bo (no moving of the hips, etc and it's usually his head) and Bo will occasionally grumble about Jetta having certain toys...but we always correct and have had no fights, bites, snarls, snaps, etc.
I treat them by who does what I want first.  If I say sit and Tabs sits first then she gets the treat first if next time Duke does it then great he gets it first.  If they manage to do it at the same time then I give them the treat at the same time or close I don't think that is a problem for them.  Tabs gets fed first but mainly because her bowl is closer to the food containers, I've never really thought of it that much.  The only problem we have with the two of them is when she is sleeping or laying somewhere thats where Duke wants to be or if we are giving her attention he wants to butt in (and he is not lacking in attention by any means  :D )
Yea, Jamie, ours do the same thing. Lucy will jump on Sams back and visa versa - sometimes it is humping but sometimes it is not. They play pretty well together with even the smallest of toys like a tennis ball (which really suprises me) but every once in a while Sam stops the game and doesn't want her to have it . I interrupt and say "play nice" and he will give it up and they will go back to giving it and taking it from each other with the chase included.
Oh yeah, I only treat mine if they do something for it, but it doesn't matter who gets it first.  I always feed Delilah first too, but b/c she is in the kitchen and Felix eats in his crate in another room.  But Delilah has to sit and wait until Felix and I leave the room and then he also has to sit before being fed. I think the important part is to make sure they do something for YOU in order to get love or food.
Do you do Nothing in Life is Free (NILF)?
Yes, I do the same thing, goodgirl, as far as whoever does what I want first, gets the treat. When I feed them, I put Sam's bowl down first but they have to wait until I say it is okay before they approach their bowl. Boy, Lucy starts blowing some bubbles if I make her wait too long. I try to trip her up though. My release word is "okay" so I instead I will count 1, 2, 3 or say another word other than "okay". She has only broken once...pretty smart chickie  :lol:
My only problem is Tabs isn't a big eater so sometimes she will only eat one meal so if I don't watch Duke like a hawk he will eat Tabs food.....GRRRR I was in the kitchen last night making dinner and he snuck into her food I don't know how I was standing right there talk about being in space....
Here's a very interesting article about canine social hierarchies.  I find that it generally jives well with what I've observed among my own dogs - namely that hierarchies are fluid and usually context-dependent.  I do agree that the human should be the 'rulemaker' but that's a separate hierarchy, IMO, than the one between multiple canines.  I've found that in general it's best to let the dogs decide who is "top" among them - and again, this generally varies depending on a number of factors; often trying to 'force' a dog into that spot causes them more stress than letting them be lower on the totem pole.  (This is assuming they can do this mostly peacefully; if there are excessive scuffles or outright fights, that's beyond just 'letting them work it out themselves'.) ... rchies.htm
Trying to influence what might be the natural hierarchy seems counterproductive.  I also notice that the trainer has you giving the treats & attention to your male first - why is that?  Is he the natural "alpha" of the 2 dogs?
[quote="Newcastle\";p=\"79686":2mqbg2b6]Here's a very interesting article about canine social hierarchies.
[quote="Nexu\";p=\"79697":2ypmmqtv]Trying to influence what might be the natural hierarchy seems counterproductive.
Ok, do you treat all of yours the same regardless and they decide among themselves who is alpha?
Pretty much, yes.  I don't do "all the same" as in everyone gets the same things every time, but the criteria for who gets what is the same.  (Like the example above, where whoever sits first gets the treat first, etc.)  I do feed in a certain order, simply because that's the way the bowls are stacked. ;)  I don't get involved in 'discussions' over toys, bones, etc. unless they're annoying me (one of my girls likes to BARK BARK BARK at someone who has a toy or bone she wants), or it gets a little too serious (in that case, the bone/toy becomes *mine* and nobody gets to play with it for a while).  I don't take a toy away from one and give it to the other; I used to do that and it just causes problems.  Either they figure it out themselves, or it gets taken away.
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