If you don't follow the 'pack' idea what would you advise on this?

(26 Posts)
TheGoodEnoughWife Wed 17-Aug-16 19:51:29

Hi, we are having an issue with our dogs. We have three, 6, 2 and 7mths, the older one is starting fights with the two year old particularly over mealtimes. Some other times too but mostly meals. If we try to separate them to eat then the older one senses this and kicks off anyway.

The 2 yr old is grumbly and growls on and off but maybe this is a reaction to the older one?

We have had a dog behaviourist out who follows the pack idea of behaviour. This makes a lot of sense to me and what they said seems feasible with lots of actions we can put in place to hopefully help the dogs see us as their leaders.

But I know I have read posts on here that the pack idea has been disproven - my question is what would one advise if we have the thought that it is not a pack issue. (Or that the pack idea cannot be causing an issue as dogs of today are so far removed from the past)
Thank you in advance for any input :-)

needastrongone Wed 17-Aug-16 20:02:46

The pack theory has been thoroughly debunked, even buy the guy who came up with it in the first place. I can provide a raft of evidence to substantiate this if needed. smile

Can you describe exactly what happens when the incidents occur?

TheGoodEnoughWife Wed 17-Aug-16 20:11:18

Started by one looking the 'wrong way' at the other when eating and they would fight.
Tried feeding them separately and the older one would know it is mealtime and would start getting stressed as we try to put her out.
They now know they get fed when we come downstairs in the morning and the older one will start to have a go at the younger one before we have even left the bedroom.
(They sleep in our room and always have, used to sleep on our bed on and off but we have stopped that now - this has really only been an issue in last month although older one has always bossed the younger one a bit)
(2yr old was neutered just over 2 months ago, older one is spayed)

Shriek Wed 17-Aug-16 20:16:58

be interested to see the raft of evidence... and hear the suggestions

needastrongone Wed 17-Aug-16 20:33:25

Okay.

Try Dominance in Dogs by Barry Eaton. Really succinct and easy to understand.
Dominance Theory and Dogs, James O Heare.
In Defence of Dogs - John Bradshaw.
Don't shoot the Dog - Karen Pryor.
The Culture Clash - Jean Donaldson.
Anything by Sarah Whitehead.

These are just on Amazon, along with many, many more. smile

Have you considered getting in a APDT accredited behaviourist in? The website would help you find a local one. Someone who would be able to observe first hand the situation with your dogs.

There's also a Facebook page, called Dog Training Help and Support (I think!), if you join, then post a specific question, this will be vetted, and a trainer will answer.

TheGoodEnoughWife Wed 17-Aug-16 20:49:16

Will look for that FB group. Thank you

Book ideas are good but really need a quicker help. And am concerned about spending time reading a book that proves to be unhelpful.

Surely the dominance IS a pack thing?

What does APDT stand for please?
Although having just had one behaviourist out we will not be having another just yet!

Just really wanted to know how this behaviour would be described without considering a pack.

Shriek Wed 17-Aug-16 21:13:47

ah ok... these are books... not necessarily 'evidence' of which there are tons and millions that espouse differing theories, so not really meaningful.

needastrongone Wed 17-Aug-16 21:17:34

Okay, I chose the wrong word, was trying to help, I apologise. Others will do a better job I am sure.

Scuttlebutter Wed 17-Aug-16 21:20:58

I occasionally refer to our "pack" as we are a multi dog household, but it doesn't mean I subscribe to pack theory, quite the reverse. As others do, I think it's been successfully and thoroughly disproved.

However, there are issues that arise when you have a multi dog household and tension around feeding is a common one. I'd look at mixing this up - it sounds as though everyone is getting stressed about feeding at this time and in this place, so I'd think seriously about moving feeding times and rather than putting older dog out and stressing them, can you feed them somewhere else and effectively "move" the younger ones? We have an elderly girl who has her food brought in to her on her bed in the living room - she finds this much less stressful than the scrum in the kitchen when the others are getting their grub.

So in your case, could oldie have their food in the bedroom while the others eat elsewhere? The seven month old is still basically a "teenager" and is still learning the ropes of behaviour and what's acceptable and it's OK for the others to occasionally tell him/her off.

Time spent in reading won't be wasted - you''ll get a very good understanding of dog behaviour and interactions from the books listed which will help enormously in all sorts of ways including thinking about training as well as behaviour and day to day interactions.

TheGoodEnoughWife Wed 17-Aug-16 21:44:11

Mixing it up has helped in the evening as we can surprise them more easily (feeding outside, different times) but the morning is very stressful.
When we began to exclude the older one for food things got a lot worse so tomorrow the new plan is to feed her first then the other two.

With the pack idea the thought is we need to be in charge as head of the pack. With a non pack idea does that still hold? But maybe in a more gentle way? Surely we should be in charge?! Lol

Having searched a bit on the Internet and putting some ideas in place things have improved but those ideas do obey the pack rules.

I agree re books and I would find the theories interesting but am just very concerned about the day to day right now.

WyldFyre Wed 17-Aug-16 21:58:44

Even if dogs DID exist in packs (which they don't, as PPs have said its been debunked) they do know we are human and could never be part of that.
It sounds like your oldest might be resource guarding. Have the others tried to steal her food in the past.

As for the science that backs up the debunking of pack theory, I can't remember the name of the paper but it's by L David Mech and was published in 2008.

georgedawes Wed 17-Aug-16 22:09:17

It sounds like classic resource guarding. Id be really wary of following dominance theories as you could make it worse.

Slightly different but when we got our dog she was terrible around food with our cats. We fed her completely separately (still do) and she was very agitated about her food, I think due to fighting for it in her old house. She did better when I hand fed her in a separate room or even sat quietly whilst she ate. Gradually she has trusted that she doesn't need to worry about anyone stealing her food and she will sit and wait whilst I dish up tea, although I still then feed separately.

Scuttlebutter Wed 17-Aug-16 22:18:43

I see my relationship with our dogs very much as a partnership, partly because I do lots of training with them (we do Rally and are just starting in competitive obedience). Everything I do with our dogs is based around the idea of deepening and strengthening the bond between us, and improving how we communicate.

TheGoodEnoughWife Wed 17-Aug-16 22:32:13

Older one has never had her food taken, or an attempt on her food and really the 2yr old just wants to be left alone to eat! But I do see that older one may perceive a threat and so is guarding. I will look up Resource Guarding.

I do like the idea of working with the dogs and having a partnership but at the moment this is not very two way! They are, I feel, ruling the roost so to speak!

I am hoping that our new plan gives the dogs confidence that they are all safe and looked after and that they have no need to guard anything as we are on top of things - but is that a pack thing or just good dog ownership?

Thank you for all replies :-)

PikachuSayBoo Wed 17-Aug-16 22:37:33

If the morning feed is the issue can't you drop it? Just feed in the evening?

I'm no expert on this as I lazily leave kibble down 24/7 for my dog but I'm sure my mum only feeds her dog once a day.

PikachuSayBoo Wed 17-Aug-16 22:38:13

Though the 7 month old may be too young for only one meal a day.

Fuzzywuzzywasabear Wed 17-Aug-16 22:40:33

When we first got our second dog, we would feed the older first then the younger pup, we've worked our way up to feeding them at the same time now but the younger will always hang back at meal times and often won't eat until the older dog is finished unless he's super hungry.

tabulahrasa Thu 18-Aug-16 00:05:36

"With the pack idea the thought is we need to be in charge as head of the pack. With a non pack idea does that still hold? But maybe in a more gentle way? Surely we should be in charge?! Lol"

The reason that pack theory doesn't work as effectively in training is that, yes, you should be in charge, otherwise you've got chaos...but with pack theory based training what you're actually doing is putting in place strange irrelevant rules and rituals to create that supposed pack leader status rather than just being in charge by being in charge and addressing the actual issue you're having.

So for example, if you're having an issue where your dog/s run out of doors without you (or you just prefer your dog not to walk out a door in front of you) then yep, you train your dog to only go out of a door after you...but it will have no effect on your dog's behaviour not related to doorways.

The same is true of when you and they eat, whether they get to sit on furniture etc. Etc. Etc.

Pack theory is based on flawed assumptions and in fact flawed research, dogs don't live in a hierarchical pack at all, wolves sort of do, but actually it's a family and those in charge are the parents, so they're not dominating by behaviour...they're just being parents.

The non pack theory training methods are based on behavioural science.

There's plenty of evidence about why pack theory is flawed and behavioural science...and all very easily available on Google for whoever asked.

So yes being in charge is not a bad thing, but, it's in the same way you are with children, you just are and if you're having an issue, you need to address that issue not just unrelated things.

TheGoodEnoughWife Thu 18-Aug-16 07:12:17

Thank you, that makes a lot of sense.

To the person who said about not feeding them at all in the morning they just get more and more worked up (including fighting each other) until they have been fed. Now, maybe if I separated them in the morning (on signs they are about to kick off) playing the long game and then if they don't behave enough to get fed then they don't get fed that may work.

Anyway, thank you very much to all that have replied. I am looking things up that have been mentioned and taking everything on board. We really want to sort this issue as they are all lovely dogs apart from this!

georgedawes Thu 18-Aug-16 07:25:19

Could you put them on leads in the morning and lead them straight to their feeding place? Straight after their wee so no chance to get worked up.

Id also try an adaptil diffuser to try to calm the environment and work on positive interactions as much as possible between them and not allow any opportunity to reinforce the behaviour.

TheGoodEnoughWife Thu 18-Aug-16 08:44:09

We were putting older one on a lead as soon as she showed signs in the bedroom that she was getting worked up.

This morning older one came down first, was fed and then out into the garden, then other two same. Which has worked and there has been no issue apart from the other two being unhappy about being left in the bedroom (I did stay with them, showering and so on) but it did feel we were in charge of the situation which felt better!

(We do have the Adaptil infusers upstairs and downstairs)

I do think there are areas where we are not in charge (although there are situations where they behave really well and have a solid routine too) and of course we are giving out signals that we are concerned which probably doesn't help but it is hard to stay calm and relaxed when we are worried they are going to hurt each other. (They haven't as yet and although looks and sounds bad no blood has been drawn in either of them)

LilCamper Thu 18-Aug-16 09:07:17

A good book on Resource Guarding is 'MINE!' by Jean Donaldson.

The FB group mentioned by a pp is 'Dog Training Advice and Support'.

needastrongone Thu 18-Aug-16 09:09:55

In general, do they get lots of exercise and mental stimulation? Tired dogs (a bit like tired kids) can generally be easier to deal with. Also, what food do you give them? Again, small things, like additives can make a difference.

We have 'interactive' food bowls for our dogs. They look weird, they have lots of plastic spikes at the bottom, but they make the dogs really work to get their food out, which take 4 times as long as a standard bowl, and makes them think. Something for in the future, when the situation has calmed down perhaps.

needastrongone Thu 18-Aug-16 09:09:59

In general, do they get lots of exercise and mental stimulation? Tired dogs (a bit like tired kids) can generally be easier to deal with. Also, what food do you give them? Again, small things, like additives can make a difference.

We have 'interactive' food bowls for our dogs. They look weird, they have lots of plastic spikes at the bottom, but they make the dogs really work to get their food out, which take 4 times as long as a standard bowl, and makes them think. Something for in the future, when the situation has calmed down perhaps.

LilCamper Thu 18-Aug-16 09:13:11

BTW, RG is all about the fear of losing the resource, it has nothing to do with that dog wanting to be 'alpha' over the others.

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