The Alpha Theory and Basenji's

From various forums I read there seems to be a debate - sometimes heated - in regards to the Alpha theory and dogs and I was wondering where this lies with the Basenji.

Some hold strong that there needs to be an Alpha in the pack - in the wild there is the Alpha dog, the strong leader, and in the home there is the Alpha, the strong leader, aka the human in charge.

Others think that the Alpha theory is outdated and not true. That in the wild there is no true Alpha of the pack and that you don't need to assert dominance or take on an Alpha position in your home and with your dog. That through common respect between you and your dog you can live harmonious with your dog with the both of you at the same "level of dominance" without the archaic theory of Alpha positions in your pack.

I have read that for the Basenji breed in general - that if you don't step up to be the leader of the pack, the leader of the household, that your Basenji will be more than happy to fill that roll and take over for you!

Do you find that the Alpha theory holds true to the Basenji? That to keep them "in check", so to say, that you need to have the upper hand and be the one in control, be the Alpha of your pack?

Personally I don't know if it is because I have 3 very active and headstrong sons that if I didn't take the "Alpha Position" in the household we would have nothing but chaos, so I tend to be the same with Kiya. She knows who is boss of the house. Although that doesn't stop her when she is acting like a teenage girl testing the waters and toeing the line. :p

Personally, I think that the best run households are the ones where there are rules and consistency. I don't really think that you have to go out of your way to "be the boss", you do have to be consistent in your training and expectations. The are so many life rewards that we give our dogs that reinforce our position like walks, feeding, play, etc that if we use those as opportunities as relationship building opportunities that is usually enough. Basic obedience training gives good tools for communication and consistent rules and boundaries go a long way to foster harmony.

Oh, rules and consistency are a big thing with me - as well as positive reinforcement. These theories that hold true for dogs as well as for human children.

I personally believe that you can take an Alpha position - a boss position - and still conduct it all in a positive way with positive training and positive reinforcements.

With Kiya we take an all positive approach with training because even a scornful look can cause her to react negatively. But at the same time she knows that I am the one in charge here.

I know that Corky would run my house if I didn't take a loving alpha position. If I catch him doing something wrong and he stops when I say 'No', he knows that if he rolls over on his back I will reward him with belly rubs. Now if I could only get him to stop grabbing things off the table when my back is turned. 🙂

I think, based on my experience, that a Basenji thrives more on being treated/considered an equal rather than being dominated. Show him/her respect and they'll reciprocate, but make sure they are aware of the rules.

@lvoss:

Personally, I think that the best run households are the ones where there are rules and consistency. I don't really think that you have to go out of your way to "be the boss", you do have to be consistent in your training and expectations. The are so many life rewards that we give our dogs that reinforce our position like walks, feeding, play, etc that if we use those as opportunities as relationship building opportunities that is usually enough. Basic obedience training gives good tools for communication and consistent rules and boundaries go a long way to foster harmony.

I completely agree with the above. If you go back thru various threads here, you will see the different views we have on this topic regarding this topic 🙂

@TuckerVA:

I think, based on my experience, that a Basenji thrives more on being treated/considered an equal rather than being dominated. Show him/her respect and they'll reciprocate, but make sure they are aware of the rules.

I'm not sure being "equal" quite cuts it either. Maybe if we differentiate between being "alpha" or "dominate" and "leader".

I don't think Basenjis respond well to being "dominated", but they do respond well to a strong "leader".

They need to know that someone other than themselves create the rules and boundaries under which they live, and once they understand those rules and boundaries they function pretty well.
Try to force the behavior and I think it'll take you significantly longer to achieve the behaviors you desire.

@JazzysMom:

I'm not sure being "equal" quite cuts it either. Maybe if we differentiate between being "alpha" or "dominate" and "leader".

I don't think Basenjis respond well to being "dominated", but they do respond well to a strong "leader".

They need to know that someone other than themselves create the rules and boundaries under which they live, and once they understand those rules and boundaries they function pretty well.
Try to force the behavior and I think it'll take you significantly longer to achieve the behaviors you desire.

Totally agree:D

@JazzysMom:

I'm not sure being "equal" quite cuts it either. Maybe if we differentiate between being "alpha" or "dominate" and "leader".

I don't think Basenjis respond well to being "dominated", but they do respond well to a strong "leader".

They need to know that someone other than themselves create the rules and boundaries under which they live, and once they understand those rules and boundaries they function pretty well.
Try to force the behavior and I think it'll take you significantly longer to achieve the behaviors you desire.

I agree with this too 🙂

Thanks for your replies.

You say Alpha and people automatically think Cesar Milan, alpha rolling, e-collars and correction based training. There is such a stigma with the word.

I guess the term "Alpha" was the wrong word to use because of the negative connotations that come with the word. Strong leader - I think that would be a better term to use.

However even in households where behaviors are molded through positive reinforcement, rules and boundaries have been established for which the dogs live by and follow, and while humans and dogs live in harmony and respect is given by both parties, the reality is that the humans are the ones in control of the situation. You are the leader, you are the boss, you are essentially in the in the alpha roll position. It just comes down to how you lead. Iron fist with negative punishment or gentle with positive reinforcement.

I know with my own personal experience, not only with children but with dogs, positive reinforcement and gentle redirection will yield better, faster, and longer lasting results than the iron fist with negative punishment approach. But at the same time I am the one in control. Everyone knows the boundaries, what is to be expected, and what is not tolerated.

There are all different types of breeds and breed personalities. There are some dogs which are mellow, easy going, and just want to please. There are the other dogs which are more active, curious, and they have a mind of their own.

Obviously approaches in how to handle these dogs are going to be different. While you are still going to use positive reinforcement you may need to take a more leadership approach with the more active dog with a mind of its own.

I guess my question I guess is, do you find the Basenji breed falls into that category, the category that you need to take a more leadership roll with your dog because of their "free thinking" personalities.

And from the answers it sounds like yes, with Basenjis you do need to take a leadership roll. One enforced through rules, boundaries, and respect.

Honestly, I think that all dogs require having someone in the leadership role, setting the rules, boundaries and gaining their respect… I also believe that all humans in the pack should be "above" the dog in that pack pecking order. I really don't think that it applies to just our Breed.... Even in Basenjis you have different personalities ranging from dominate, shy and everything in between...

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