The Pack Experience
Measuring Dog Intelligence
Chapter 2

There is a part 1
(
The Pack Experience Chapter 1 )

12/20/05

What you are about to read are my hands-on experiences with 35 years of working with dogs. Being of an obsessive compulsive nature, I have researched through thousands of sources from books, journals, magazines, periodicals to natural videos, National Geographic series, and other documentaries. Along the way of those 3 decades-plus, I have attended numerous workshops and seminars by dog trainers, handlers, field & hunt trialers, judges and anyone else purporting any experience with dogs. I have participated in countless animal science courses and studies, so any similarities to anyone else's training methods or theories is purely possible/coincidental. My philosophy when working with dogs is very simplistic, give them dignity and try different things until something works.
I don't claim to have all the answers, but I promise that I will keep looking until I am close to that point. 

     

  

The Pack Experience Chapter 2 Measuring Dog Intelligence

 

The intelligence of a dog in part is measured in how readily a dog identifies where it fits into a pack of dogs, in other words, how accurately the dog perceives its social standing and then implements those innate traits for assimilation into the pack’s social structure. Wild canines of Africa and Australia survive according to how efficient the pack works together as a cohesive unit in hunting for food and defending the territory against predators. Each member of the pack has a specific function and the pack’s survival is totally dependent on how each member does their job and how well the group works together.

 

Performing tricks such as shaking hands, rolling over and other antics as playing dead are not by any stretch of the imagination any indication of canine intelligence!

 

During the physical part of the evaluation, I will determine how quick a dog assimilates my assertions of dominance. Since each dog is totally unique in personality traits, careful attention is paid to the reactions of the hands-on manipulations and how the dog reads and accepts/rejects authority and dominance.

 

Acceptance of course is directly dependent on how I execute my role as the dominant identity. Through body posture, mannerism, voice and other subtle signs of authority and leadership, I will convey to the dog that I am the identity to be reckoned with. Ultimately the dog will realize that I am the leader of the pack of this territory. Acceptance is not a total commodity; rather it comes in degrees from the dog. These differing degrees helps me to distinguish certain characteristics of uniqueness of each dog that is being tested.

 

Likewise with rejection of authority, it too is displayed in varying degrees. There are three observable rejections to authority and dominance. There is confusion, distraction and outright challenge. Determining why a dog will not follow a command is essential in order to identify those characteristics and in order to apply the appropriate behavioral correction if any is warranted.

 

Through a series of complex physical manipulations on my part and through observations on how the dog interacts with the environment and other dogs in the territory, conjectures can be made about the dog’s social status, confident levels and dominant/recessive nature and yes, intelligence, but this is canine intelligence versus the rollover play dead, shake hands, people-oriented intelligence.

 

The individual character traits of each dog will determine the type of training that will be prescribed for it. The mode of training will therefore reflect the dog’s need according to temperament and behavioral type.

 

It has been my observations that dogs can be divided into 3 major distinctive behavioral types. These 3 behavioral types have special functions in a pack of dogs and each serves to form the social structure of the pack. These 3 behavioral types can be listed as dominant types, active types and social types, of course there are countless authors and books that detail each of the preceding with different terminology and vocabulary, bottom line is that they are all talking the same language using different words.

 

A pack of dogs does not need multiple leaders, on the contrary most packs are ruled by only one dominant dog, be it male or female. Therefore, what we see is that a pack of dogs is almost evenly divided between the other two types of temperament/personality types, the active types and the social types.

 

Having worked with thousands of dogs, in class settings, seminars, and workshops and in private sessions, I have only found three dogs that fit the true “dominant dog” type perfectly. That works out to three dogs out of thousands, an incredibly small number!!!!! These dogs were truly "alpha" in nature, not just in their own environment, but in any new environment that they traveled to. Since there have been so few of these dominant types, I will start the discussion about them first and will keep in rather short.

Keep in mind that just because a dog asserts itself with his family or with a small group of dogs, does not make it a real alpha or dominant type personality. I encounter this erroneous assumption almost on a daily basis with dog owners, but the mistake is easily made by those with few experiences with dogs and how dogs relate within a pack. As social animals, each dog is always looking to dominate or be dominated according to the innate traits it was given at conception. This fact leads to the confusion about dogs being "dominant" when they really are not of the dominant type. For instance, in a setting of three social type dogs, one of them will assume dominance over the other three, however that dog still is part of the social type and not of the dominant type.

 

The majority of dogs that I have evaluated have almost fallen evenly into the other two types, with the “social dogs” edging out the “active dogs” slightly. This aberration might be explained by the fact that I see more Labradors that were bred from show lines than those bred for hunting, which by nature would produce more “active types” through selective breeding for that trait.

 

For simplicities sake and to avoid writing a book on genetics and modes of inheritance, we will accept the scientific postulate that behavior is innate. That is determined at the moment that the male’s sperm fertilizes the female’s egg. Given this mandate, we will then accept that each puppy is born with its own set of behavioral preferences. This preference is thus pre-determined and highly unique to each dog. If the level could be measured using a measuring stick, no two dogs would have the exact value. Of course environment will affect how a dog behaves and acts, but the core of personality type is there way before birth.

 

Let’s define what the three behavioral types are like, starting with the least encountered, the “dominant type”.

 

The role of the dominant type is to lead, to make decisions that will perpetuate the pack’s existence in the wild, remember Darwin’s theories of survival of the species dictates that each specie will do what ever it can to survive at all cost, therefore survival is paramount and wild packs of dogs demonstrate these ideals on a daily basis as a unit.

 

Without leadership the pack would disintegrate and survival or better yet, the lack of survival is a matter of weeks away as chaos would take place and the pack would be susceptible to attacks from other animals or even other packs of dogs, let alone the fact that they would not be able to hunt as a unit and starvation is inevitable.

 

Domination is total by the leaders, there is no dealing, negotiating or complaining. Those dogs that do not abide by the rules set up by the hierarchy are “taken” care of. Dominant types are steadfast in their roles as leaders, they never retreat, nor do they accept competition without a confrontation. Higher testosterone levels fuel these dominant types, which keep them at a razors edge constantly, both for domination and for breeding purposes.

 

In the domesticated version of canines, we still encounter the same dominant behavioral types. Although, I suspect that their testosterone levels are not as peaked since they do not have to constantly demonstrate their authority nor their breeding prowess. Another factor that I have observed over the years is that once identified in a litter of dogs or from early-on observations, they are “put” in their places as puppies and young dogs by their breeders and owners. This tends to keep them from peaking and achieving “full status dominant type”.

 

Of course there are many variables that will determine how high each individual dog reaches in their behavioral type. With the dominant type, a strong hand early one will keep the dog somewhat in check as it grows and matures, conversely a weak-willed owner will have the opposite effect and will probably create a “problem dog” later in on during the high testosterone periods of growth.

 

In my dealings with thousands of dogs, I have found that there are no two dogs with the exact level of behavioral type, as each dog has one main type that rules its existence, but each dog seems to have fragments of the other behavioral types in its genetic code of personality and temperament that also determine how the dog acts in different situations.

The Pack Experience Part 3 dominant type dogs

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