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Sophia Yin on the Dominance Controversy...

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by fun4fido, Jul 19, 2009.


  1. fun4fido

    fun4fido PetForums Senior

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    Hi all,

    Before you read this very informative article, please be aware that my reason for posting it is purely to share interesting information with those who are keen to know more, and learn about dogs.

    I am not posting it to begin a debate. My intention is to share information.

    Take the time to read through and view the ALL the videos, some great stuff here, and lots of other links for those who want to dig deeper.

    Sophia Yin on the Dominance Controversy
     
  2. Colliepoodle

    Colliepoodle PetForums VIP

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    Brilliant.

    Read it all, watched the clips and am now even more convinced that Cesar Millan shouldn't be allowed near averagely-disobedient pet dogs, let alone on TV. To be honest, watching the way he treats some of his "cases" makes me uncomfortable enough to actually get upset.

    I have no doubt that he has some success with last chance, red-zone dogs (although even that, to me, doesn't entirely excuse his methods) but I wouldn't let him near an animal of mine with a barge pole.

    Loved the clip with the JRT having his face blown in! Now THAT'S the way to do it - doubtless CM would have had the poor little dog pinned down within seconds :rolleyes:

    I've heard him described as setting dog training back twenty years and I don't think that's an exaggeration. If only people wouldn't fall for his teeth and smile and charisma and actually WATCHED what he is doing to these poor dogs, he might not have so many wannabe's hanging onto (and quoting) his every word.
     
  3. Savahl

    Savahl Guest

    excellant read. I have a one of sophia yin books, a very well written, balanced book. This post is no exception, good well balanced arguments without being too judgemental on CM and his methods; or disregarding absolutley everything he says.

    I also loved the JRT with counterconditioning - this is how i got buster away from being possessive of bones and toys.
     
    #3 Savahl, Jul 19, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 19, 2009
  4. goodvic2

    goodvic2 PetForums VIP

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    An interesting thread! Unfortunatley I cannot hear the videos as the sound on my PC does not work. I have however, seen all the episodes, so am familar with his methods.

    I have deliberately waited a few hours before I have replied, as quite honestly I am sick to death of the constant slurs on CM. However, seeing as the OP has gone to the trouble, I thought I should reply.

    As far as most anti cesar people go, she is far more balanced. She makes some good points.

    The point about some of his techniques not being safe for families to use is correct. Hence, it says "don't try this at home".

    I agree that sometimes he does not do enough rewarding.

    I also agree that sometimes he can be a bit heavy handed with dogs, and maybe they are scared, for a short time. But I also disagree that it is doing them any lasting psychological damage.

    I also agree that "alpha rolls" are not suitable for everybody. I myself have used them and I did not see any benefit. However, I would not critize him for it, because he gets results.

    What some people see as fear, some see as the dog submitting. What some see as excitement, some see as dominance. Everybody has their own perspective on it.

    As you know I agree with his methods, I only wish I had known about them from day 1.

    The way I see it is this:

    1) He successfully manages a pack of 30-40 dogs, of different breeds and nearly all of them rescue dogs. You may argue that the pack manages itself now, and to a degree it does. But he had to start it off at some point.
    2) I use his methods and I am achieving some great results. For the past 2 weeks I have had 5 dogs, my 3, my sisters male bulldog and a male rottweiler. All dogs quite clearly see me as the dominant one/pack leader and it is why I am able to manage a pack like this. Also bare in mind that I have 2 troubled dogs, who have had dog aggression issues.

    All the time I am seeing results, why change it?

    In actual fact I hope to start Max off at agility later in the year. This is a dog who has had so many problems adjusting to normal life and has had serious dog aggression issues. I firmly believe I have made this possible by using the dominance theory and being able to impact his behaviour.
     
  5. Colliepoodle

    Colliepoodle PetForums VIP

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    It isn't as simple as everyone having their own perspective though, is it?

    Basically from what I can make out, EVERYONE who has studied dog behaviour properly agrees that the "dominance theory" is flawed.

    Saying that everyone has their own take on it is a bit like saying "Well, all qualified brain surgeons do things one way but some people who aren't qualified but have studied the brain in a medical book do it another".

    I've not read ANY articles written by experienced behaviourists, who have studied dog behaviour properly, that agree with CM's methods.
     
  6. goodvic2

    goodvic2 PetForums VIP

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    To be honest, I only replied because I thought it was disrespectful to the OP, seeing that I have quite strong views on it.

    I am getting sick to death of trying to justify my belief's and the constant harping on about CM. Not everything he does is right, but then again, not everything he does is wrong. People are obsessed about it.

    I have heard people on the forum complaining about being bullied and I have to say that at times, if I was a weaker person, I may feel like this (not refereing to your post, but other posts that are running). We each have a different opinion and what works for one person does not another.

    In actual fact, this is the last comment I am going to make on this theory. Because we all just go round in circles and end up detracting from what the OP is asking.

    In answer to your question about this theory, I have read books by Cesar Milan, Jan Fennell, Barbara Sykes, Bruce Foggle and Bonnie V Beaver. Although most do not advocate the "alpha rolls" which everyone is obsessed with, they do talk about the pack heirachy and leadership.

    Now that is me over and out x
     
  7. Colliepoodle

    Colliepoodle PetForums VIP

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    Pack hierarchy - yes. Among dogs. Dogs do not think people are other dogs though.

    Leadership - yes again. It does no harm for a dog to realise that you, the human, control resources and that tuning in to the human and responding to cues will lead to Good Things.

    However, there is a lot of confusion over the line between leadership and dominance.
     
  8. Minbari

    Minbari PetForums Newbie

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    Hooray common sense at last!!! I have read Sophia Yin's work before, and as a result i've always thought Ceaser Millan's methods to be far to wide of the mark,:eek:ut: "Dog Whisperer" my left pad, more like dog shouter!

    I am so sick and tired of having people, say to me "ooh you should watch that Ceaser Millan, he knows everything about dogs" it was inexperianced hands using Cms Bullying Methods that caused some my Ollies problems in the first place, who was it that said "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing"
     
  9. fun4fido

    fun4fido PetForums Senior

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    Thanks for the thoughtful comments guys.

    goodvic2 I'm not in to bashing CM, as I hope you realise. My passion is teaching humans how to have better relationships with their canine companions, and therefore improving the quality of life for canines as well.

    I appreciate that you may sometimes feel that everyone has it in for CM, but this is not really the reality. Many behaviourists myself included have a problem with his methods, however I know very well that CM is not the only dog professional out there using dominance based training methods, he is however the only one who has such a wide audience. So this is the reality of why he gets so much attention.

    I recently commented on a blog post which relates to this thread, and also to the Sophia Yin article. I have also posted and article on my own blog which raises questions on what determines social canine behaviour.

    I'll link to them here as a copy and paste would make this reply too long.

    Post: Dismantling Cesar’s House of Dominance (My comment)

    My blog post: What Shapes Canine Social Behaviour?

    My view (as well as many other behaviourists), is that the behaviour of domestic dog is very much shaped by their environment and experiences within that environment.

    So if a dog owners decides to use dominance based training methods, by default the owners is setting up a dominance based environment, and this will result in a dog that is either a) fearful, timid, subdued, shut-down, or b) reactive and aggressive.

    The majority of my work is re-training humans to be benevolent leaders, and NOT pack leaders. This is not easy when some clients view CM the same way they view religion :D However, people counselling is very much part of what I do, and I enjoy it, and find it very rewarding when suddenly the light goes on, and clients realise that their behaviour and training methods have lead to the very problems they were looking to prevent/avoid.
     
    Colliepoodle likes this.
  10. Colliepoodle

    Colliepoodle PetForums VIP

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    I often wonder if Cesar would have quite so many followers - or at least would they be quite so rabid and unwilling to consider even the remotest possibility that Cesar's advice is based on flawed research - if he wasn't quite so photogenic and charismatic.

    I am convinced that if he were female and looked like Mo Mowlam, at least half of the females who quote him so adoringly wouldn't be quite so vociferous in their defence of their hero...
     
  11. Thorne

    Thorne PetForums VIP

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    Really interesting, well written article! :) I believe i've heard of Sophia Yin before, may look into her methods a bit now if only out of interest.

    I think i can liken CM to Freud - enormously reductionist evaluations, largely flawed psychology and old-fashioned. People either support both of these guy's approachs hugely or condemn them only with Freud everything is sex/aggression and with CM it's dominance, dominance, dominance!
    When i first heard of CM i searched him on Youtube out of curiosity and saw frightened, exhausted dogs who were by no means "cured" and certainly not happy. There is no quick-fix training, contrary to what CM's show would have you believe.

    As for the alpha roll, well. I have never in any real-life situation (visiting a friend of mine with 7 dogs of very different temperments and breeds is a notable example!), documentary etc with either dogs or wolves have i seen a dominant dog force another to the ground. Ever. What i have seen is the more submissive dog reacting to aggression from a superior by rolling onto it's back or side of it's own accord.

    But i do believe that some dogs are dominant over their owners and for last-chancers, CM's methods are probably worthwhile in the long run. But then again, if such a dog finds itself with new owners for whatever reason who don't continue the dominance regime, might the dog become a "ticking time bomb" (just thinking as i go here) who may well revert to aggression if it finds rewards for such behaviour? I don't know, i'm still learning ;)

    CP, i could hardly agree more.
     
  12. Blitz

    Blitz PetForums VIP

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    maybe that is why I dont like his methods. To me he is not in the least attractive and very smarmy and rather unpleasant!
     
  13. Blitz

    Blitz PetForums VIP

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    I am very impressed with Sophia Yin's attitude to training dogs. Very relieved that she will use an e collar etc if really needed. All the 'old' methods still have their place, albeit a limited one. But is any of this 'new'. I started taking dog training classes over 30 years ago. At our local club I took one pet class in an evening and someone else took the other. Even back then I was not happy with the way the other trainer used one method for every dog instead of seeing what was needed for each dog. Even then I recommended that a dog aggressive dog was taught that an approaching dog was a nice experience and that it wasnt hung up and shouted at. But I still prefer to show a dog what is wanted. I still prefer to put a dog into the sit physically rather than wait till it chooses to sit.
    CM certainly doesnt read dogs in the same way that I do. That pit bull, whatever she was called, she doesnt have an aggressive bone in her body, she is excited and trying to get to other dogs. Because she is yanked about on that ridicluous harness and the owner is terrified she is going to become worse and worse. CM then takes her and makes a dog coming towards her turn into an even worse experience. What is wrong with sitting her quietly on a loose lead and feeding her titbits/fussing her/playing with a toy and gradually, over a few training sessions, get another dog to approach closer and closer till she realises that another dog means good things not pain and fear.
    Other trainers that have been deeply into dominance would still do the 'nice' bits too. I have never seen anyone but CM constantly stay on top of dogs in that way or assume that every misbehaviour is caused by dominance.

    This is getting rather long, sorry, but another point over the dominant animal having to constantly assert themselves and dominance not lasting long.
    I had a sheltie who was 'boss' dog. The pack changed over the years (usually 3 to 5 dogs) and she stayed boss. She never fought, she never raised a lip but she was always boss, the others would move out of her way and never approach her food bowl. Then she got old and they started walking all over her so I had to help her keep her place.
    We had a boss cow in the herd and again she never did anything obvious to keep her place but when she got old she went to the back of the line when they were moving instead of leading the way.
    It is nature, it is dominance surely, as in dominance being leadership. It happens with people too, very assertive, leader type people dont need to be nasty to other, they are naturally looked up to - but when they get older they lose it.
    The animal or human who is constantly fighting to keep themselves on top are not the dominant ones, they are the ones that are trying to assert themselves because they lack self confidence and feel better if they are being looked up to.

    Not sure if anyone will bother to read this essay!
     
  14. goodvic2

    goodvic2 PetForums VIP

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    A very balanced post, I tried to rep you for it, but it said i couldn't give it to you again!
     
  15. Blitz

    Blitz PetForums VIP

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    thank you for the comment, much appreciated.
     
  16. Colliepoodle

    Colliepoodle PetForums VIP

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    Same here actually - his twinkling teeth are enough to put me off for a start :D
     
  17. flufffluff39

    flufffluff39 PetForums VIP

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    What about victoria stillwell ??? She told a family to have a dog put down and they filmed the family in bits when they actually had it done?? I know barbara woodhouse was strict but come on victoria is just a dominatrix disguised as a dog behavourist they even dress her like one??? Not good.
     
  18. Colliepoodle

    Colliepoodle PetForums VIP

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    I quite like VS from what I remember of her but haven't seen her on telly for a few years. No idea about the instance you mention so can't comment. Maybe the dog DID need to be PTS??

    They dress her like that for TV, to give her a recognisable "image", just like they make Supernanny Jo Frost dress like a schoolmarm.

    Barbara Woodhouse was barbaric - but in her day it was more the norm I suppose.
     
  19. flufffluff39

    flufffluff39 PetForums VIP

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    Yeh babs was barbaric but in those days choker chains were rife and the recommended thing to use on an unruley dog. God do you remember the hand signals..lol...sit and choke your dog if he does'nt listen...perhaps ceasar learnt from her vids :) I hate the damn things always a harness on my dogs.
     
  20. Blitz

    Blitz PetForums VIP

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    But I hate harnesses, I have never seen a dog walk properly in one and they are being restricted as they move and having immense pressure put over their lungs and heart. A correctly used check chain does not EVER choke the dog and is certainly kinder on it than a harness. Barbara Woodhouse's choke chains were horrible though, the links were such that it couldnt check and release so took away the whole point of them. Her ridiculous hand signals and one method solves all are I suppose rather similar to CM but nowhere near as violent. The one good thing she did was to bring dog training classes to the attention of the pet owners so that dogs did start to get trained. I remember taking a rowdy dog off an owner and sitting it at my feet while I was doing an induction to new class. The owner was gobsmacked and said he thought it was only Barbara Woodhouse that could get that result.
     
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