Dominance continues to be a very hot button issue for dog lovers everywhere, and with good reason. Deciding the reason for a behavior is often prescriptive for its modification, whether to increase, decrease, or change its expression.
I’d like to try an experiment with you, one that involves everyone from trainers to behaviorists to dog lovers of all kinds. I want to compare and contrast a similar behavior pattern between a human and a dog. I’ll give an example of two similar behaviors, one human, one canine, and ask you to comment and explain them in the hopes that we all gain a better understanding of both human and dog behavior.
I’ll start with an experience that should be common to us all, a recalcitrant vending machine.
The Human Experience
A person puts in a dollar in a vending machine, makes their selection, and watches. The motor makes a satisfying whine as the steel coil advances the peanut butter cracker towards the abyss from which the person will spelunk for them. You can see the anticipation in the persons face as they wait for the familiar kerplunk signaling that snack time is here.
But something’s wrong! The familiar whine of the motor has ceased without the kerplunk coda! The crackers cling to the ledge, refusing to drop into the yawning chasm below.
You watch as the stages of grief play out before your eyes. Shock and denial register on the persons face. Skipping the pain and guilt phase, they go straight to anger as they do their best to simulate an earthquake which will dislodge the crackers from their purchase. As they expend the energy they were hoping to replenish with their purchase, they finally decide that crackers are worth two dollars today and they put another dollar in.
The Experience Canine
A dog circles around its caffeine deprived owner as he stumbles out of bed to greet the coming day. Yapping and yipping, the dog follows the man from the bathroom to the living room providing obstacles for his still unsteady feet.
Once they reach the living room the dog does the auto-sit-stare (legal tender for all doggy debts public and private) in anticipation of the ritual morning treat. Severely caffeine deprived, the man decides to forego the normal treat dispensing in favor of a java fix.
As the man stands at the coffee maker waiting for his morning nectar, the dog is barking, jumping, and tugging on the man’s pajamas. As the man looks down at the dog, the dog does an emphatic sit, followed by an “I Dream of Jeannie” eye blink and nose wiggle.
- Do you think either the human or the dog is displaying dominant behavior here? Why?
Please help others by sharing your views here. Let’s learn from each other so we can be better humans for our dogs.