Friday, May 22, 2009

Cesar Millan: Pack Leader or Predator? (updated)

This is an updated version of a previous post (now deleted), which includes a few more insights, and a helpful graphic.

Cesar Millan: Pack Leader or Predator?
One of the constant bits of advice you’ll hear from Cesar Millan on The Dog Whisperer is: “you have to be your dog’s pack leader.” In fact on his website he even sells T-shirts and hoodies with Pack Leader printed on them. Millan is not alone. This is a popular notion among a lot of trainers, and has been for years.

This idea has a lot of appeal for most people. “Yes!” they think. “That’s what’s wrong with my relationship with my dog. He doesn’t see me as his pack leader!”

Here’s the problem though. According to David Mech, the world’s leading experts on the behavior of wild wolves, real wolf packs don’t have pack leaders. The idea that they do came from studies done on captive packs, culled from various sources, who didn’t know one another, and behaved more like rival wolves than true packmates.

Here are some facts about wild wolf behavior:

No wolf always walks ahead of the group when they’re traveling. They take turns. That’s a fact.

No wolf always eats before other members of the group. That’s a fact.

No wolf always goes through an opening or crosses a threshold before other members of the group. That’s a fact.

No wolf ever puts one of his packmates in an alpha roll. That’s a fact.

No wolf tells his packmates how to behave. That’s a fact.

Dominance displays are rare in wild wolf packs and usually only take place between the mother and father over how to disburse food to their young. The female almost always wins these battles by acting “submissive,” which would mean she’s supposedly subservient to the male, when she’s actually almost always victorious.

These are all facts. And here’s what they all add up to: 

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A PACK LEADER.

Yes, it’s true that in any animal group there will be one member who is more experienced, more knowledgeable, and who has more animal magnetism than the others. And most members of the group will tend to be drawn to or gravitate toward him or her. But animal magnetism—which is felt on a visceral levelis something quite different from rank, leadership, and authority—which are purely mental constructs.

There’s another factor. In wolf packs it was long believed that the alpha or leadership role changes hands during the hunt. We now know, through the principles of emergence theory, that the reason this seems to happen is simply because one member of the pack will have a better skill set for a certain type of terrain at some point during the hunt, or another wolf may have more emotional flexibility for adjusting to the changes in the prey animal’s energy during that part of the hunt, or what’s even simpler: one wolf may suddenly be in closer proximity to the prey at certain points, giving the impression that the others are now “following” his leadership when in fact the hunt is always led by the prey.

Going back to dogs, anytime dogs are in conflict it’s always about who has control over resources, i.e., things in the environment. And I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but you automatically have more control over your dog’s environment than he does. Who has the keys to the car and the house? Who knows how to operate doorknobs? Who knows how to use a can opener? Clearly, if a dog is capable of perceiving things like leadership or superiority, your dog already sees you in that light.

So why doesn’t your dog listen to you the way the dogs on TV listen to Cesar Millan? Well, for one thing there’s a lot of stuff Millan does that ends up on the editing room floor. (I know for a fact that this is true.) Plus, to his credit Millan always seems to act fairly cool under pressure (as long as you don’t look at the anger sometimes simmering in his eyes). But ultimately he acts more like a predator than like a pack leader.

A predator?

Yes. The spatial relationship between two dogs or wolves takes place on the horizontal. Their eyes face each other. They’re on the same level. But the spatial relationship between dog and human is quite different. We move through space on the vertical. Our eyes are far above theirs. They look up at us, we look down at them. Spatial relationships—which are concrete and visceral—are far more important to dogs than intangibles like leadership or status—which again are more abstract and conceptual.

This brings up an interesting point about wolves, which is that in the wild the only animal that poses serious threat of deadly harm to a wolf (other than homo sapiens) is the same animal the wolf usually hunts: elk, moose, deer, bison. These animals have sharp horns and hooves that could easily kill or maim a wolf. When a moose, for example, is running away from the wolf, the wolf is energized by its movement, and is highly attracted through his desire to chase and bite. But if a moose finds itself cornered, and as a result he turns and stares down at the wolf, brandishing his antlers, the wolf will stop dead in his tracks.

In the wolf’s experience the prey has now become
the predator.

Here's the graphic again. 
 
Note the similarities in the spatial dynamics between the moose and wolf on the left, and the dog and man on right. Then note how different they are in comparison to the spatial dynamic of the two wolves in the center.

I
m not suggesting that a dog thinks his owner is a moose. What I am suggesting is that even there were such a thing as a pack leader in wild wolf packs (which there isn’t), and even if dogs had inherited that behavioral tendency from wolves (which they haven’t), there is no way a dog could confuse a human being for another dog, i.e., his “pack leader.” It simply could not happen. As I said before, the relationships between objects in space is concrete while the idea of the “pack leader” is more abstract and cerebral. So when you add yet another cerebral elementthat the human owner or trainer is a stand-in for or symbolizes the already abstract idea of the pack leaderyou’re getting into mental territory that is way beyond what a dog’s brain is capable of.

The facts of nature and evolution strongly suggest that wolves, and by extension dogs, have a long adaptive history of being cautious about any animal whose eyes are set in a large head and are looking down at them from above, particularly when that animal is facing them directly. They would feel even more fearful or cautious if that vertical being happened to be coming toward them.

Now think of the way Cesar Millan acts when he enters a room and believes he’s being a “pack leader.” Picture the way he stands and stares down at a dog. The level of gaze he has seems “magnetic,” correct? The dogs are on their “best behavior.” Is that because they see him as a pack leader? Of course not. The spatial dynamic is nothing at like that between a supposed pack leader and another dog or wolf. But remember, when a moose suddenly turns and looks down at a wolf, the wolf stops dead in his tracks. And that’s exactly how most misbehaving dogs act when Cesar Millan enters a room. So the feeling Millan is actually stimulating in dogs is the polar opposite of magnetism or leadership.

It’s really just a form of fear or intimidation.

Another way to look at it is that when Millan acts the way he does the dog isn
’t thinking, “I respect your authority and position of leadership over me, so I will do as you ask.” Its far more likely that the dog is thinking,“What can I do to survive this moment? Show me how I can prevent myself from being killed.”

So why does Cesar Millan (and others like him) get results?

This “pack-leader” act essentially stifles the dog’s energy. Then, once that excess energy is contained (i.e., the dog is no longer bouncing off the walls), Cesar takes the dog on 2 - 4 hour walks, sometimes forcing the animal to wear heavy weights, or he puts the dog on a treadmill for several hours to burn off all that energy.

Is there a better way to teach a dog than by stifling his energy and/or wearing him out?

Of course. The more intelligent and effective option is to give the dog a positive outlet for his energy and emotions. That’s kind of what the long walks do, except that while long walks may wear a dog out, they don’t really satisfy his true energy needs. That comes through playing games that stimulate and satisfy his hunting instincts. For example, 5 - 10 minutes of playing tug-of-war—where you always let the dog win and praise him enthusiastically for winning—is roughly equivalent to a two hour walk in terms of the amount of energy expended. Plus, when played correctly, tug always has the positive side-effect of increasing a dog’s desire to learn and obey you. The same can be said for playing fetch for about 20 minutes or so.

Cesar does sometimes play fetch with his dogs, but from what I’ve seen he doesn’t know how to teach a dog whose energy has been stifled to become un-stifled, or to teach a dog how to release his energy through play. From my perspective that should be the first order of business when working with any behavioral problem: teaching the dog to play.

Max von Stephanitz, one of the originators of SchutzHund, wrote, “Before we teach a dog to obey we must teach him how to play.”

There’s a great documentary called “In the Company of Wolves,” where Timothy Dalton goes to the Arctic Circle with David Mech and observes these wonderful animals in their natural habitat. (By the way, if you’ve seen footage of the wolves in Yellowstone, keep in mind that those wolves were taken captive in British Columbia, drugged, outfitted with electronic monitoring collars, and forcibly relocated to a completely new, and in many ways, quite foreign environment. So while they’re still living in the wild, Yellowstone is not really their natural habitat; not yet. So their behaviors are sort of halfway between those exhibited by a truly wild pack and a group of unrelated wolves held against their will in captivity.)

At one point in the Timothy Dalton film a papa wolf (i.e., the pack leader), rolls over on his back, “signifying submission” to his puppies, and encourages them to jump on his stomach and chest and even allows them to nip at his ears and nose. In other words, he’s playing with his pups. (Do you ever see Cesar encourage a dog “dominate” him like this? Why not? If his intent is to be a true pack leader why wouldn’t he want to imitate what a real pack leader, i.e., papa wolf, does?)

Immediately after I saw this documentary for the first time, which was in 1995, I decided to imitate what the papa wolf did with my own pup, an unneutered male Dalmatian named Freddie.

First I got down on my hands and knees, did a play bow. Then I started batting my hands at Freddie’s body, getting him riled up and in the mood to play. Then when he was really in the mood to play bite, I rolled over on my back, pretending to be submissive.

“Oh no! You got me! You killed me! You’re alpha! You’re the king dog!”

He loved it! First he jumped on top of me. Then he tried to get lower than me! Then he began to twist around the way dogs do when they’re rolling around in the grass on a nice spring day. When he was done he raced to find one of his bones and began chewing it, quite happily.

Later, on our evening walk—as he wandered a bit too far ahead of me—I sort of absent-mindedly gave him his recall signal, expecting him to do his usual routine, which was to cock his head, look at me, then look back at whatever he’d been sniffing, and then slowly come trotting back about halfway or, if I was lucky, a maybe a little more.

That’s not what happened.

As soon as I called him he turned on a dime, and like a shot, he came running back at full speed, ending up in a perfect sit right in front of me.

I was astonished! I tested him further by quickly giving him the down command. He dove into position as fast as he could, eager to hear what I wanted him to do next. This was totally amazing and unexpected. I had no idea why this happening until I realized that for some reason, when I’d acted “submissive” toward him a few hours earlier I’d changed something about the emotional dynamic between us. As a result he was immediately far more obedient to all my commands. Plus his response time went from semi-lacksidasical to lightning-fast!

Over the next few months I tried my “submissive” act on most of the dogs I was training (you have to know how to choose which dogs are ready for these kind of shenanigans and which aren't). And in every single case it made the dog far more responsive and quicker to obey.

Why? Because I did what a true pack leader—a papa wolf—does with his pups. I got down on their level and let them “conquer” me.

And here’s the real distinction, which goes back to the dynamic between the wolf and the moose. Remember, when the wolf is chasing the moose he’s releasing his energy in the most optimal way possible. It’s what he was genetically engineered to do. But when the moose stops and turns, the wolf is suddenly like a deer in the headlights, in fear for his life. He’s not a happy camper. So when Cesar Millan thinks he’s acting like a “pack leader,” he’s not only stifling the dog’s energy, he’s instilling a lot of fear into that dog, which would be fine, I suppose, if fear had a positive effect on learning. Sometimes it does (very rarely), but for the most part it creates an inability for the dog to learn anything new.

But when you become a prey animal, by getting down on the dog’s level and playing with him—which is closer to the way dogs learn naturally—you’re opening up an enormous encyclopedia of learning that goes far beyond anything that Cesar Millan or others with the pack-leader mentality could possibly imagine. (Maybe Cesar wil
l get there one day, but he’s not there yet.)

If you want to be a true pack leader, just imitate the papa wolf. Get down on your dogs level, act submissive, and encourage him to play with you. (Please be careful and use common sense though; don’t try this with just any dog, particularly one you don’t know very well.)

LCK
"Changing the World, One Dog at a Time"

16 comments:

Kasha said...

Wow! This is a great blog! Thanks for the training tips. I thought I had it going on, but you sir, know your stuff! Very cool. I will add you to my blog list and keep in touch.
http://trainingboerboels.blogspot.com
Kasha and Africa

Lee Charles Kelley, said...

Hi, Kasha,

Thanks for the comment. And thanks for the link to your blog, and all the photos of Africa. She is a beautiful animal!

LCK

tz said...

I enjoyed your post, however I see many flaws in your ideas.

First of all, the fact that you are a dog trainer, and your personal dog has a terrible recall, I have a problem respecting your opinion. "slowly come trotting back about halfway or, if I was lucky, a maybe a little more."

2nd. Why is it so important to play in Schutzhund? Not to get on the dogs level and let it be alpha! Come on, ball+movement=preydrive
drive = good for work (schutzhund)
I know plenty of Schutzhund dogs who would never be given the chance to dominate over the handler... Why, because some of those dogs would take advantage of it, and take things to the next level.

3rd. PAPA, and puppies playing is one thing. Handler and working dog is another. For your average pet this might be a way to connect with them , but not most of the dogs I work with.

I could go on, but don't have time. Like I said, I like your idea, because I don't think there is a pack leader either, but I didn't agree with some of the reasonings of your argument.
Best regards.

Lee Charles Kelley, said...

TZ: "your dog has a terrible recall ... I have a problem respecting your opinion."

Thanks for contributing to the blog.

Here's a little more CONTEXT:

This event took place 15 years ago.

Freddie had a terrific recall -- he could turn on a dime and come racing back to me at full speed when we were in the park or at the dog run, I could call him away from a bitch in heat with no problem -- but I had gotten lax when we were out on our last walk at night.

TZ: "Why is it so important to play in Schutzhund? Not to get on the dogs level and let it be alpha!"

There is no such thing as alpha. That's a myth.

"I know plenty of Schutzhund dogs who would never be given the chance to dominate over the handler..."

There is no such thing as dominance and submission. They're also myths.

Check out my blog articles at PsychologyToday.com: "Is Your Dog Dominant?" parts I, II, and III.

TZ: "some of those dogs would take advantage of it, and take things to the next level."

Maybe. Maybe not. If the dogs are well-trained it's doubtful they would do anything but enjoy the experience.

TZ: "3rd. PAPA, and puppies playing is one thing. Handler and working dog is another. For your average pet this might be a way to connect with them , but not most of the dogs I work with."

Since you've never tried it, you have no way of knowing; your argument is not on solid ground, particularly since you still believe in dominance and "alpha." I have tried it, not just with Freddie but with a lot of the dogs I've worked with. And it has always made them more obedient and has always quickened their response times.

TZ: "I like your idea, because I don't think there is a pack leader either, but I didn't agree with some of the reasonings of your argument."

Right, except the ideas of dominance and submission and the "alpha" wolf are part-and-parcel with the idea of the "pack leader." These are *all* myths.

But that's okay, TZ. It's hard for us to let go of our beliefs.

Thanks again for taking part here.
LCK

tz said...

I don't agree with much of your comments to be honest.

OK, so you think there is no alpha? Look into the breeding aspects in wolves, and you will soon find out about alpha and beta wolves. I'm in no way saying the alpha is the top wolf 100% of the time, but there is some sort of structure in place.

I'll go further, you didn't address the question about playing in Schutzhund. You just avoided the question by saying there is no alpha. Play in schutzhund is all about building drive in the dog, so that it will work for you via a ball. Not getting down and letting the dog be the "PAPA".

"There is no such thing as dominance and submission. They're also myths."
hahaha are you serious?
Watch this video, specifically at around 5 min into the video and watch puppies submitting to other puppies.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNQuqY1oXpE

How do you explain this behaviour? Play fighting?

"Maybe. Maybe not. If the dogs are well-trained it's doubtful they would do anything but enjoy the experience." Ever see police dogs doing this Lee? Hell no, because they would get there face eaten in most cases.

How do you know I have not tryed this? I have indeed, and I almost the dog thought he was king of the castle, then started to take too much. I'm not saying every dog is going to bite you if you play with it on the ground, but some will take it the wrong way.... I work with working dogs, not Dalmations.

I have 2 more things I would like to add.

1st. If Cesar was a predator in the eyes of these dogs? Why wouldn't they just run away from him in the house? Watch the show and see, even when they are not on the leash, they don't run. They submit.

2nd. I train working dogs all week, these dogs are not your normal shelter dogs. They are breed to have serious drives, so before you assume that every dog loves to get down and play with PAPA, please work a working Belgian Malinois, or a czech shepherd, and then tell me if your PAPA theory still holds up.
Working dogs, and pet house dogs are a whole different story.

Peace

Lee Charles Kelley, said...

TZ: "Look into the breeding aspects in wolves."

“The alpha male or female are merely the breeding animals, the parents of the pack ... Thus calling a wolf an alpha is usually no more appropriate than referring to a human parent ... as alpha.” –- David Mech

TZ: " there is some sort of structure..."

I covered this in a number of my other blog articles. So please read them before you try to make arguments here.

Most people can't wrap their minds around the idea that structure doesn't have to come from the top down, it can (and does) come from within the group itself. In a nutshell, every member of the pack makes choices based on his or her own temperament and past experiences. When you calculate these choices over time, a structure emerges. So the pack is not being controlled by any one member at any one time; the pack is constantly structuring and re-structuring itsSELF.

TZ: "Play in schutzhund is all about building drive in the dog, so that it will work for you via a ball.”

Again, you haven't been around this blog much or you'd realize that we talk a lot about building drive in our dogs. But the ball or tug toy is really just a transitional object, which allows the dog to download his drive into his handler.

What every SchutzHund trainer wants, whether he knows it or not, is for the dog to be plugging her drive energy into him. And by getting down on the dog's level, you overcome the social resistance she feels because we're vertical beings. When that resistance disappears (or is largely eliminated), she feels safer about plugging her drive directly into us, and is therefore more obedient. It’s simple math.

Kevin Behan recommends similar exercises. And his background is in training attack dogs for police depts. in NY and New England.

TZ: "watch puppies submitting to other puppies. ... How do you explain this?"

If you had read the articles I suggested, you would already know. Google "Is Your Dog Dominant?” In the meantime, your interpretation of the behavior is just that: an INTERPRETATION. It's not what the puppies are really doing.

TZ: "How do you know I have not tryed this? I have indeed, and I almost the dog thought he was king of the castle, then started to take too much."

Please proofread your posts before hitting "publish," okay?

TZ: "I work with working dogs, not Dalmations."

Okay, this is *my* blog; no snottiness allowed. Also, 1) it's Dalmatian, not "Dalmation." 2) if you think training a Malinois is hard, just try a Dalmatian. 3) Dalmatians ARE working dogs. 4) I've done this exercise with all types of dogs.

TZ: "If Cesar was a predator in the eyes of these dogs? Why wouldn't they just run away from him in the house? … They submit."

Fear doesn't always cause a dog (or any other animal to run). But since there is no such thing as submission (not in dogs or wolves at least), they're definitely not submitting either: they're just exhibiting a non-threatening posture. Also, they’re almost always in an enclosed environment so they can’t escape. I’ve never seen him work with a dog outdoors, in an open space, off lead. Plus for all we know, some of them DO run away, we just never see it on TV.

Besides, dogs have a long evolutionary history of living in very close proximity to the most dangerous animal on the planet: homo sapiens. And the dogs that survived to pass on their genes did so by being as non-threatening toward humans as possible.

Please don't submit a new post until you've read more about this, either from my other articles, for from a whole host of other experts. I’m happy to clarify things, but you just seem to want to pick a fight. Go someplace else to do that.

Also take a second look at Cesar. Most of the time when he says *he's* acting "calm," his eyes actually show pent-up rage. And when he points to a dog he's just intimidated and says, "See how calm she is," take a moment to look at how frozen and desperate her eyes are.

Good luck,

LCK

summerinbrooklyn said...

Jumping in here very quickly... I know a trainer here in Singapore where I moved to who trains ONLY working dogs in PROTECTION. Not even Schutzhund. He works with individuals who want protection animals who will learn how to bite without a sleeve. Who will do a fearsome hold and bark and attack on cue. He helps with the local K9 units. He trains Belgian Malinois, Dutchies, GSDs - working line dogs. I once had a very long conversation with him about training and building drive and working with working line dogs. There were many things I took away from the conversation, but the one thing I loved most was when he said in protection work, the dogs MUST have a high play drive and to them all protection work is a form of play. He told me he plays tug with his dogs and he lets them win a lot. Not all the time but a lot. And he always takes the tug away before the dog has lost interest. I didn't talk to him about getting down on the dog's level to wrestle with the dog, but I won't be surprised if he advocates that. He's been training for 20 yrs now. Not all schutzhund trainers are about the e-collar and being "dominant".

BTW I have a Malinois mix who is spazzy drived but when I do play tug with her (which is virtually every night) I let her win, and I fall on the floor and let her jump on me, and then I tell her Out and she spits out the tug, I tell her Down and she slams her belly on the floor, I tell her stay as I run away and then I tell her to come get the tug and she flies directly at my face and rappels off my chest to grab the tug. And after that she thinks nothing of letting me take food from her feed towel (I feed raw) and she doesn't grumble when I push her further down the sofa because she's a space hogger. By your theory, she should be walking all over me now. Alpha is a myth. I let my dog walk in front of me, I let her win at tug, I let her eat before I do, but the girl knows which side her meat is buttered, thank you very much.

Lee Charles Kelley, said...

SummerInBrooklyn wrote: "By your theory, she should be walking all over me now. Alpha is a myth. I let my dog walk in front of me, I let her win at tug, I let her eat before I do, but the girl knows which side her meat is buttered, thank you very much."

I think readers should know that your last paragraph, particularly the part I've quoted above, is directed at TZ, not moi.

But I love your descriptions of Summer's behavior, particularly where she rappels off your chest!

What a wonderfully fun doggie she is!

LCK

summerinbrooklyn said...

Ooh yeah, sorry forgot to state that, ha! Yes my comments were in response to TZ's comments, not Lee's.

summerinbrooklyn said...

Oh and another thing... Summer is only 4+ yrs old, and I will wait until I am a little more settled, but my next dog will be a working line Belgian Malinois to train in Schutzhund. (I'm going to ask the trainer to help me source for a reputable breeder - there's one in Thailand who looks good on paper, I might consider visiting their kennel to check them out some time next year.) You betcha I'm going to using Lee's and Kevin's methods to work with the future dog. And I'm sure Summer will enjoy having a little brother to boss around! :)

Librarian Lee said...

I can't believe that I found this blog post the day after I wrote this blog post: http://librarianlee.blogspot.com/2009/06/meet-bear-and-some-thoughts-on-being.html

Then I read the other comments and while I feel like your words are more in harmony with something I just "know" - there are others who would scare folks like me. I better get that big dog IN CONTROL AND BE HIS LEADER NOW or I am others in my community are in great danger! So, I'll keep reading your blog and thanks. I'd just like to feel more confident in my moving forward.

Dog Prodigy said...

Hey Lee,

It's Kevin. Not Behan, but the new kid on the block from Dog Secrets. I find your blog pretty fascinating and agree with everything you are saying. That is rare coming from me. :-)

Although I'm pretty sure you'll like my book too, but may disagree with some parts. Especially the parts that I refer to how to become your dog's leader. I don't really use the term alpha though. The chapter is called: How to Get Your Black Belt in Dog Psychology.
Catchy huh?

Now pay a very close attention folks. The reason Lee Charles Kelley is as effective as he is with his style of training and knows what he's talking about, is because he does everything else right with his dogs.

You see, you can let the dog get away with a few things here and there and even let him win, but as long as you do the 'majority' of the things correctly, that's all it really matters and the dog will get it. What Lee didn't mention was he doesn't let the dog walk all over him and yet still be able to pull it off. That's not gonna happen.

Think of it as playing with your kids. Do you always let them win? Well, an effective parent would mix it up a bit. It builds their character.

Some of you will get this and some of you won't.

Thanks again Lee and keep up the good work. I am like you in a lot of ways. People either love me or hate my guts. There is no middle ground. :-)

Think of it as staying in shape. You can break and even bend the rules by eating unhealthy once in a while. But as long as you do everything else right the majority of the time, you'll stay fit and healthy.

The other factor about Lee is he doesn't believe about 'over training' a dog. I am like that too. I want the dog to be a dog for crying out loud and not a soldier or a robot. You gotta be your dog's buddy, his protector AND his teacher.

Lee Charles Kelley, said...

Hi, Kevin,

Thanks for your kind comments. I've looked at a few things on your website and it's pretty cool. Lots of good information.

It seems to me that this piece, "Pack Leader or Predator," is an important article for you, though, because of what you wrote here:

"The reason Lee Charles Kelley is as effective as he is with his style of training and knows what he's talking about, is because he does everything else right with his dogs."

I think you should go back to the video on your website, where you're working with a pit bull mix who's aggressing toward two Labs, because from what I see of the result (and I'm not clear on how you got there), this is a perfect example of a dog who sees his trainer as a predator, not a pack leader. (Hint: the dog looks scared of you...)

As I've written here in this article, "Yes, it’s true that in any animal group there will be one member who is more experienced, more knowledgeable, and who has more animal magnetism than the others. And most members of the group will tend to be drawn to or gravitate toward him or her. But animal magnetism—which is felt on a visceral level—is something quite different from rank, leadership, and authority—which are purely mental constructs."

So instead of saying that I'm "doing everything else right" (which I take to mean I'm not being enough of a "leader" for your taste), I would take another look at both your video and this article. Maybe you can see something I saw years ago, back when I still disagreed with Kevin Behan about the whole dominance and pack leader thing.

I look forward to reading your book.

LCK

Kevin said...

Oh, I forgot.

I don't think you are not being enough of a leader Lee. I have never met you face-to-face and never seen you work with your dog. But hey, if you say your dog does what you tell him under ANY circumstance, then you are doing something right. And that's all it really matters.

Folks, if you can get your dog under your control around other dogs, cats, kids, the mail carrier and even from a distance and off-leash, then you can be certain you either have a great dog, or did lots of great training.

Any moron can beat or bribe a dog to death and call it dog training. I do it by relying on my skills, instinct and experience. Most importantly, you gotta know when to push and when to back off. By pushing, I mean not just pushing the poor dogs but also the lovely owners. :-)

Boz Ozkurt said...

I am curious about what your thoughts are regarding a tamed captive wolf and your philosophy of pack leader vs. predator. I've worked with captive wolves for the better part of 30 year and I am one like you who believes that humans are not alpha over either dogs or wolves nor are they in a pack with them.

In fact, to that extent, it goes along somewhat with one of the methods of working with wolves and that is to never put yourself in a position that would trigger aggressive/predatory behavior in a wolf. In simpler terms, build trust and respect with the wolf, never hurt the wolf and the wolf will not want to hurt you. In this case youare not portraying yourself as predator, prey, or pack leader.

Handle the wolf aggressively and in a domineering manner and when the female matures at two and the male at three you'll eventually trigger an attack.

In my experience I don't think that a captive wolf looking up at a human thinks of it as a predator or as an alpha which alters it's behavior to make it want to stop dead in it's tracks. I've seen captive wolves attack people both from the front and from the back.

Look forward to your thoughts.

thanks

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this article, it's really nice to see some people who don't think you should traumatize your dog for it to obey you for a change. I'm 100% behing what you're saying!

Elena