Friday, September 20, 2013

Who's the True Alpha?

Sweetie and I have determined we are not "The Alpha", having never caught the elusive technique for achieving this.
We have been told multiple times that Max is trying to "seek status", "dominate us" or "become 'The Alpha'". We were perplexed. Max has a great deal of freedom because he is a great dog. True, we sometimes ignore behaviors that are annoying but not incompatible, we rearrange our lives a bit to make sure his is meaningful, varied and interesting, species appropriate and within his thresholds. We try to set Max up to succeed, even if it means changing our habits. We don't ask for more than he can handle and we don't punish with force or retroactively. Does that mean he's "the Alpha"?

After careful consideration Sweetie and I identified the characteristics of "The Alpha" in our house.

The Alpha:
-rarely comes when called.
-eats whenever he pleases.
-begs for food and we oblige.
-bites and claws when he's unhappy and we don't discourage this.
-Has free access to almost the entire house and sometimes back yard.
-Gets treats for performing no polite behaviors or "just because".
-Sleeps on the bed or where ever else he wants (including the middle of the dining room table).

So Who's the Alpha?

This one.

That's right, Charlie is the Alpha. Max does none of the above, except beg for food. In addition to all the things listed above, Charlie swats at Max periodically, climbs curtains, routinely knocks things off flat surfaces and eats grass to barf. Thank goodness there's not litter box mutiny (knock on wood!).

Sure, he's cute and all but let's get real.

This is more likely to happen between nuzzles and purrs. Charlie's only enforced rule? You can't clean your boy bits on the pillow while we're trying to sleep. So yeah, we're not the Alphas. We are all owned by the cat.

In case you seriously thought I believed in "dominance theory", check out some awesome perspectives below by people way smarter than me about why dominance theory in it's popular incarnation, in domestic dogs, is generally a big fat crock of crap. Then please turn off a certain NatGeo "trainer" and go play with your dog.

In case you missed him, here's Max at our local tennis courts. Glorious, fenced, nail-wearing-down tennis courts where rubber balls bounce sky-high with room to run after them. Love it!


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