Monday, August 16, 2010

Stilwell Vs. Millan _ My Take

I was introduced to yesterday's article by a friend of mine. And the title of his email was: What's your take on this?

It took me a while to want to post on this because I do not play on the same field as many dog trainers. For one, I find it irrelevant to discuss hierarchy, dominance, alpha rolls and all that goes along with this, especially when speaking to pet dog parents.

Second, I have a respect for animals beyond what may be proven. I believe they are capable of: feeling emotion, thought processes, higher level intelligence, critical thinking etc and many would disagree. I don't know to what degree any of this goes on, but when I interact with an animal of any kind, I will immediately give respect.

It's hard to explain in writing, but its almost like dealing with an infant to a two year old. I believe they are aware of a lot more than we give them credit for or that can ever be proven, because we can not get into a infant's mind and will never be able to. There is much left to the unknown.

Third, our relationship with dogs has evolved so much over the years and continues to do so that we are almost dealing with a different kind of dog man once called their best friends.

Our involvement in breeding such needy, dependent dogs, anxious is one way our relationship with this species has evolved, and taking away the work they are bred for is the second way by which we struggle to develop a strong understanding for the species.

But back to my thoughts on "DOMINANCE..." Irregardless of our definition of the term Dominance, and philosophy in training, it is like saying dogs growl at other dogs to communicate possession. So humans should growl at their dogs when they catch their dog chewing on a shoe. Really????

Dog's lick sometimes because of appeasement, sometimes because they are hungry, sometimes while grooming themselves or another animal. So, instead of using a brush to groom out by dog, I should lick my dog to convey that message. Really????

Without going into any scientific discussion, I do believe Dominance is a status. I believe the action associate with dominance is ALWAYS used sparingly and rarely by dogs. I believe the body language associated with dominance when speaking about the alpha roll or "pinning a dog" is purely a matter of height advantage and body language not force. To keep it simple, most dogs are of the same height. To attain this leverage, the so called "alpha" may heighten his/her body to show a height advantage over the other dog. The most exaggerated manner win which to do this, is to have one dog lying down on his back or side leaving that dog completely vulnerable, while the other dog stands over him/her.

I find as humans this is completely unnecessary and very cruel as there is already a height disadvantage to dogs when raised in human households. In my opinion it is that that presents a lot of confusion in a dog.

This probably sounds very confusing. I find it hard to put my "thoughts" in words, but if an animal is respected for having it's own needs, and is cared for in a manner in which it meets its needs first, this would not be an issue anyway.

However, due to conflicted upbringing, destroying our dogs spirit, removing/eliminating work from their daily lives, there are many dogs that need firm control and handling. I believe this does boil down to giving them a job adn leading them through it.

More on this later.

Dog Responsibly.

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