Dominance Shmominance

7 Apr

People who believe in all that dominance/alpha hooey would most likely look at our little family and declare that Emma’s the alpha bitch of the pack. She regularly throws her weight around, pushes everyone out of her way; she once literally bulldozed Charlie by sticking her head under his stomach and going where she wanted to go (he happened to be in her way). She tends to get on top of me as much as she can and is generally very gratuitous with her personal space encompassing everyone else’s.

I just spent a good 30 minutes breaking up pieces of treats for this weekend’s KPA workshop with Emma (jeez it came quickly!!!). Whenever I do this all three of them sit and drool, praying that one might have their name on it (Tigress joins in the fun, of course). Every single time, without fail, that a treat lands between Charlie and Emma, if Charlie so much as breathes in its direction, Emma will turn her head away and look to me for more goodies. Even if the treat is next to, under, or had just bumped off of Emma’s head, if Charlie wants it, it’s his. In this most indicative trial of dominance, Charlie clearly wins out.

Actually, I believe the correct definition of dominance runs something along the lines of it having to do with ability to gain and keep access to a desired resource, in this case, the treat (so all that hooey about one dog standing over another, walking out the door first, pulling on the lead, etc, is just that, hooey). And one dog may be dominant in one context but not in another, it all depends on what’s important to him or her. Charlie certainly wouldn’t bother using his powers to gain control of which leash he’d prefer to wear today. So my beleaguered, constantly shoved, often whipped, even more often bumped Poodle, is a dominant little fellow when it comes to access to treats. He also uses his great powers of world domination to get the best spots on the bed. That and his incessant whine will pretty much get him anything he wants.

With all that said, I still despise the term and never use it. Well, except for in this post. It’s too often misused and I’d like to not add to the madness.

But I would  like to point out that Charlie’s signals only work because Emma is so intuned to them and so incredibly respectful of them (if not his personal space). Which is a wonderful trait to have in a dog, and honestly a little unexpected in a Pit Bull, but that’s why we work so well.

And all that aside, Tigress is still more than willing to literally grab food out of either dog’s mouth if the opportunity presents itself. Like I said, dominance shmominance!!!


We run this joint, yo.



3 Responses to “Dominance Shmominance”

  1. Fiona (and Abby the Hippobottomus) April 7, 2011 at 9:19 pm #

    Mr. Bufus (an ancient Maine Coon) TOTALLY ran our house until he crossed The Bridge. He had no teeth and was declawed (a rescue cat) and had EVERYONE under his iron paw. He trained generations of dogs the proper respect for a cat!

    -Dr. Liz

  2. Kari April 8, 2011 at 10:21 am #

    Big Carl runs our house (when Baily lets him)


  3. jan April 8, 2011 at 12:35 pm #

    One of the reasons Misty is alpha dog here is that she knows what the other dogs want and takes care of them, not because she is dominant. Timmy doesn’t like to be splashed when the water dish splashes him so he will wait until Misty makes more water come into it.

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