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The Most Misunderstood Member of Your Household

Posted on Jul 17, 2011
Flickr / Pictr 30D

When Buster is snoozing, dreams of being Alpha Dog aren’t flitting around in his brain, according to animal behaviorist John Bradshaw. The top-dog myth is just one of the erroneous memes we have about our best friend, writes the respected U.K. scientist, who goes on to argue that dogs are on the brink of a crisis.

Bradshaw’s new book, “In Defence of Dogs” (titled “Dog Sense” in the United States) is, in the words of The Guardian newspaper, “nothing less than a manifesto for a new understanding of our canine friends.” Click the link at the bottom to see why the canine expert feels that a dog’s life in the 21st century needs some rethinking. To listen to an NPR interview with Bradshaw and to read still more of his ideas, click here.

The Guardian:

Put simply: dogs are on the brink of a crisis. And as we have put them there, it is our responsibility to help them.

This is the thesis of John Bradshaw’s scholarly yet passionate book In Defence of Dogs, which is nothing less than a manifesto for a new understanding of our canine friends. It is an attempt to “stand up for dogdom” – that is, dogs as they truly are, not as we assume they are. As a canine expert and dog-lover, Bradshaw is dismayed that our treatment of dogs is based on so many mistaken beliefs and assumptions. He wants to set the record straight now because canine science has made huge advances in recent decades.

He starts by demolishing the notion that dogs are essentially aggressive creatures seeking dominance, which is based on discredited research into wolf packs. It is now known that wolves – the direct ancestors of dogs – actually live in harmonious family groups. Packs are not dominated by “alpha wolves”, but are fundamentally cooperative.

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Daye's avatar

By Daye, July 18, 2011 at 2:20 pm Link to this comment

Bah humbug, O Wind! The part you say that’s correct is meatless
compared to what you leave out, which is that only Dogs, not
wolves, are blessed with accurate abilities to read human emotions,
& have indeed clearly been selected for that most companionable
virtue. Shame upon you, Wind, for not proposing that Dogs be
elected to every Congressional seat, whereupon we could finally say
that our legislators feel & love us, as the nutters, rotters & crooks
presently in those seats do not.

Blow Wind down, & replace it with Dogs grin

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By Inherit The Wind, July 18, 2011 at 2:05 pm Link to this comment

There are so many mistakes in this article it’s practically criminal.  Dogs are pack animals and all pack animals have “pecking orders”, even chickens (where the term comes from).  Every dog knows his rank, and, once that’s understood and accepted, everyone is happy and cooperative, even affectionate, both to humans and each other.  We had a 6 month old puppy race up to a big Rottweiler who didn’t know him…the Rottie grabbed the pup by the throat and put him on his back. I thought surely the puppy was dead. Nope. The pup rolled up his tail submissively, the big guy let him go, and then they started to play and were friends ever after.  Pecking order established.

Dogs are not a “separate species” from wolves.  Wolves are their ancestors.  This is total fallacy. Dogs ARE wolves and can still interbreed and produce fertile offspring.  All dog behavior is merely a variation of wolf behavior.  Herding dogs use wolf hunting techniques to intimidate and control their charges—heading and heel and butt-nipping most obviously. Hunting dogs as well use specially developed wolf techniques.

One point is valid: We anthropomorphize our dogs (and cats) far too much.  Dogs may be intelligent creatures, and they are, but they are simple creatures, complex in ways we don’t get.

Mainly, they are lovable, adoring pains in the butt!

“Dogs have masters. Cats have staff.”

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By SoTexGuy, July 18, 2011 at 12:51 pm Link to this comment

Wolves and dogs are not seeking dominance and are naturally ‘fundamentally cooperative’?

Well, there goes a whole raft of analogies between the canines and the Republicans! We still have most of the invertebrate world as reference .. amoeba, pond scum, gut-parasites, leeches and more to use.


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By gadgetbrother, July 18, 2011 at 2:46 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I like the dog, the dog is always a good friend of mankind

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