An expert in animal rescue and dog psychology and behavior addressed a question posed on a local mailing list about the negative effects of bestiality on dogs. Reposted here by permission of the author, Atheris.
Post #6320 on Kink in the Bay Area yahoo e-list, on June 29, 2004
In answer to questions posed by our Moderator on the negative effects of Bestiality on Dogs.
Note: Oct. 7, 2010: I have updated this a bit and added some additional resources. I hope to write a full article soon!
Mistress B- I can answer these questions for you. First of all I will say I have been studying dog behavior and psychology, training dogs, and reading as many books by other trainers as I can get a hold of since I was a small child (yes I read the ‘adult’ books and had to get permission to check them out when I was 10!). I have a lot of experience with real dogs and have been doing this much longer than I have been in the BDSM scene.
First a bit of background on the dog basics- there is NO way I can cover everything I know in this post- it would be a book and too long. I will recommend some books at the end of this post to get people started if they are interested.
But – for the basics- dogs are not human. Dogs don’t communicate like we do- they can’t speak English or Spanish or Japanese, or any other language that we can speak. They DO communicate quite fluently in their own language. Dogs do D/s and their language is largely based on it. But to make it more confusing for us humans- they do D/s much differently than we do. Most non-kinky people just ignore or don’t want to know that their dogs do D/s because they find it ‘offensive’. The dogs still communicate in it whether you like it or not. Since they can’t speak our language and we can understand theirs and even ‘speak’ it if we choose to learn how, I feel that it is our responsibility to do so.
It is in a dog’s nature to try to become Alpha- this is not something that is done once and then it is never addressed again. In a pack of dogs the Alpha dog may become ill or be killed- the pack will need another Alpha member and one of the other members will have to prove they are fit to be in the position (I am not going to go into how this is done as it is done in many different ways.)
In a human “pack” (and this IS how the dog sees your family), if you are not Alpha, then your dog is. This is a fact- not something you choose. Even if you don’t see it this way- the dog still does. This is why so many people have dogs that bite and they don’t know why. Many small dogs are dominant in their household while the human members of the pack don’t even realize it! Some people do realize it and think it is ‘cute’. IMO it is NOT cute to have any dog bite a human- whether that dog is a Rottweiler or a Chihuahua.
1. Is it any more abusive to a dog than forcing it to mate with
another dog and bear pups for human profit? When a dog is taken to
be “bred”, neither dog “consents” to intercourse and
the female doesn’t consent to bearing young which will be
snatched from her as soon as they are ready to be sold. Do the
folks who believe that human/dog sex is immoral because a dog cannot
consent find dog breeders to be abhorrent too?
Ok- you think of your family like this: (or something like this) there is you, your partner(s), your children. The pets may or may not be considered ‘family’. The dog looks at it like this: You, pack member, and your partner(s) and children are all pack members along with the dog. This is the dog’s ‘family’. The dog needs to know where he/she’s place in the pack hierarchy is. This is not ‘optional’ this is how the dog sees it whether you do or not and many problems with dogs can boil down to problems with understanding this one thing. If you are not Alpha and none of your human family is- the dog probably is, at least in the dog’s mind.
It is the right of the Alpha pack member to control sex. It is very common for only the Alpha members to mate- and in packs in which non-Alpha members mate, the subordinate members NEVER mate with the Alpha member. This is not done in dog society. So for you to set up a breeding with another dog and that dog is also not alpha you probably don’t have a problem. The minute you have sex with your dog the dog is now EQUAL in his mind in the pack position. Now if you have a dog that is naturally more submissive- you probably won’t have a problem that is overt, although I still feel it is abusive because submissive dogs really DO NOT want to be in an Alpha position. It makes them nervous and insecure. If you have a dog that is not submissive then you will almost certainly have a problem. Dogs do not just ‘take over’ in the pack status- they do it very subtly and very quietly- in most cases- only if there is a BIG blow out between two members who feel they are both qualified for the position will you have an aggressive problem between dogs.
I once had a very interesting dominance confrontation with a small dog (this dog weighed less than 10 pounds). If there had been anyone else there, I am betting most people would have not even realized that it went on. It was entirely silent and all body language and I never touched the dog. It took about 5 seconds and at the end the dog recognized me as Alpha (even though he didn’t recognize his Mistress as such). If this dog had been a large dog and an established Alpha it may have not gone so quietly and I might have ended up in the hospital- dogs do have some idea of their ability to hold that position, even though people like to think otherwise. This dog would listen to me and obey me – he stopped barking incessantly unless his Mistress was there- since she encouraged it without realizing it. She encouraged all the behavior problems by not being Alpha.
You cannot train a dog unless you are Alpha in the dog’s mind. You have NO right to tell a dog what to do or when to do it unless you are Alpha in the dog’s mind. This is not something you can change. You either understand it and utilize it and communicate clearly with the dog in his/her language or the dog will misunderstand you. This is the reason I don’t ‘train dogs for people’ and it is the reason that when people go to an obedience class with their dog- the trainer can get the dog to do things that the owner can’t- because the trainer establishes Alpha status in seconds and the owner has not done so. It is MUCH easier to take a young dog- establish Alpha status and maintain that status than it is to take a full grown dog (especially a large one) and ‘take the dog down a notch’.
2. Regarding the proposition that allowing a dog to have intercourse
with a human will result in an aggressive dog which will have to be
killed because intercourse in dogs is related to dominance, I ask
whether it is any worse than allowing a dog to do the following
activities, e.g., allowing a dog to sit on furniture, allowing a dog
to sleep in your bed, allowing a dog to eat at the table with you,
etc? These activities are also related to dominance, but I have
never heard folks who do these things be accused of dog abuse.
It can be equally as bad to allow the dog to sit on the furiture as it is to have sex with them- depending on the situation. I have no problem letting my dogs on the furniture when I want them up there- BUT if I say “get off” they get off- no questions, no arguments. This is because they recognize me as Alpha in the pack. If they were Alpha and I said “get off the couch” They would not listen as I would have no right to tell them what to do- in fact THEY have the right to tell me what to do. The Alpha pack member controls ALL resources- including food, sex and ‘comfy places’. This doesn’t mean that they can’t have sex or they don’t get fed- but instead they do so at the direction of the Alpha or AFTER the Alpha member. Sex is more complex than this and I get into it a bit here but this can’t cover the entire scope of what is going on in the dog’s head.
A while ago it was believed that dogs only understood short one word commands and were not able to understand more complex phrase or ideas- this is not true. I have had dogs understand “get down here right now” (calling a dog from upstairs where I was not, to downstairs where I was) and my dog understands that “I can’t ever get on the bed but I can get on the couch however I have to get off if Alpha says so”)
A lot will also depend on the individual dog’s natural tendency toward Dominance or submission. All dogs have some place they fit on that scale- the more dominant dogs will constantly strive for the Alpha position and the most submissive dogs never will. Unless you really understand dog language you have NO way of knowing where a dog is on this scale. There is an excellent scale for evaluating puppies to find out what their natural tendencies are (breeders use this to determine if a dog will be a good working dog of any sort, for competition or for guide dog or service dog jobs).
One example I will give is one Lhasa that I knew of- I was visiting a friend whose mother had just got a Lhasa puppy. While I was there the puppy was chewing on something he was not supposed to be chewing on- I pointed it out and my friend’s mother took the item- the dog didn’t let go. Instead the dog growled. SHE let go and the dog stepped up the ladder in the pack hierarchy without her even knowing it! Six months later NO ONE- not family nor guests could sit on the couch if the dog was on the couch. They thought it was ‘cute’. If the dog had been a large one- they would have had a problem. Dogs of all sizes do D/s the same way- but the fact is large dogs can cause humans more damage – even kill.
I am a promoter of responsible dog ownership all the time- not just on this list. I am active in my dog club too- although I keep my ‘doggie’ activities very separate from my kink life. I try to help people understand dogs- vanilla or kinky people as it IS as much of a problem to allow a dog to be dominant in any situation- whether you are having sex with them or not- and if you have a large dog you are playing with fire and you might get burned, you might not and someone else might- you never know.
Many here [on this list] may not know but there is a LOT of activity in certain Cities trying to pass breed specific legislation (banning certain breeds- of which my main breed is one of them). Dog owners have been hurt most recently by that incident in SF involving the large dog that killed a women (and I have heard they were having sex with the dogs but I have to research this more before believing it).
People often think a good protection dog is aggressive- this is a myth- good protection dogs are well trained. Police dogs are NOT aggressive as many people would think they are. They are very well trained and the Human part of the team is Alpha. The police officer that handles the dog MUST work with the dog a lot – it is not something you just ‘issue’ like you do a gun since there is a relationship there that has to be established and maintained. I actually believe that most of the people that are a danger to responsible dog owners are not kinky people- they are people who want ‘an aggressive dog to be a good watch dog’ and instead of learning what they can about dogs- they just try to make a ‘quick’ mean dog and they succeed.
But you can’t do that if you don’t know anything about it. Most people (both kinky people who want to have sex with dogs or vanilla people who want a dog to play with the kids) don’t want to bother with learning about the animal they have chosen to share their life with. This is the reason the shelters are so full of unwanted animals- most of those animals are very healthy and there is nothing wrong with them- they just need some training, including knowing their place in the pack. They need exercise (many people grossly underestimate the amount of exercise a dog needs).
Dogs are highly social animals- just like us, and they have a very complex language just like we do. They understand social heirarchy and in many ways are so much like us- but yet so different. All I ask is that people try to understand them before doing things that might hurt them.
The books I recommend are:
Mother Knows Best, a Natural Way to Train Your Dog
Carol Leah Benjamin
If you get just one book- get this one. It lets you in on a lot of the ways that dogs communicate and teaches you to ‘speak’ and ‘read’ dog language as well as train your dog in a way that the DOG understands. You take over from Mother (mother dogs are ALWAYS Alpha to the litter of puppies.) If I EVER have a litter of pups I would give this book out to people that take a puppy (I have very strong feelings about breeding dogs too- and am NOT into breeding dogs unless they have had all the health checks and are bred for a purpose- type of work purpose NOT want to make money purpose. I believe breeders have the responsibilty for every puppy they bring into the world- for life- not just until money exchanges hands. I won’t get a puppy from a breeder that doesn’t have a ‘take back’ policy and discourage people from getting a pup from backyard breeders or pet shops)
Dog Psychology, the Basis of Dog Training
Leon Fradley, Whitney
This book is out of print- it is very old, but very good. It contains a very good example of positive reinforcement training. The dog was a hunting dog that was gun-shy and through positive reinforcement the dog was transformed into a good hunting dog, no longer gun-shy. ALL positive training is done the same way as described in this book.
I think this post is probably long enough- I plan to write a more in depth article on this subject particularly addressing the problems with Bestiality (with dogs since I don’t know enough about other species to make a comment on it)
Further Questions posed by Twilite
thanks for the information regarding dogs, their care and psychology. I appreciate the concept of responsibility through informed decisions. I do love animals, and it is heartening and encouraging that someone cares enough to discuss using reason why something is the case, passionate enough about it to share feelings.
May I direct a few questions towards you. I welcome your knowledge or pointers to sources.
You are very welcome and I am very happy to answer any questions on this subject.
Does the gender of the dog make any difference in regards to their behavior or possible perception by the dog of D/S?
Not really- Females can be dominant too. Males tend to be more driven to move up the hierarchy in general but many females are also dominant by nature. Also certain breeds tend to be more dominant than others. Dobermans, Rotts, and German Shepherds tend to be a lot more domiant than Spaniels for instance. This is why you can see females mounting people or other dogs- they are not sexual- they are telling you they are dominant over whatever they are humping.
You will probably be less likely to get an aggression problem with bestiality with a more submissive dog but I still consider it abusive to the dog. For a submissive dog- they DON’T WANT to be in charge. So if you do something that tells the dog that you consider them over you in the hiearchy- have sex with them or feed them before you eat, etc then the dog is stressed. It is very unfair to keep a dog in a constant state of stress just the way it is cruel to do that to people (of all ages).
What kind of difference might there be between a dog who simply licks, as in an oral act, and a dog permitted or encouraged to mount a human?
Licking probably is not as much of an issue as the actually sex part. Dogs lick everything- they are like children – at that stage where they put everything in their mouths. Dogs won’t naturally lick a person’s genitals for long periods of time though. If you wanted to have the dog lick you and not have sex- AND you were very aware of the psychology of the dog- it probably would not hurt the dog in any way (including psychologically). But be aware that dogs, if they are naturally dominant, will look for any signs that the position of Pack Alpha is open and they will try to move into that spot.
Is there research that discusses the psychology of donimance for canines? I realize there is, I’m asking for sources you’d recommend.
Oh yes- there are tons.🙂
Here is a list and some comments:
Leader of the Pack
by Nancy Baer, Steve Duno
This is my current favorite book for several reasons. The authors focus on simple and non-confrontational ways to take back the position of Alpha and maintaint it. They explain the way the dog thinks and the psychology of dog behavior in simple ways that anyone could understand. This book just makes sense. It is also dead on. It is very cheap too! If I ever have a litter of pups I would buy a bunch of these and give them away with the pups. This book lets you know they ways in which you tell the dog (without knowing it in most cases) that the dog is Alpha. The only thing I don’t like about this book is they have stories of wolf packs before each chapter- that part if ok but they tend to anthropomorphize the wolves a bit which IMO sort of works against the whole idea of the book- that being that dogs don’t think they way we do and while they have a complex social structure, they have a completely different set of rules than we do. They do have a language but not so much a verbal one as we do- but instead one of body language.
Dog Psychology, The Basis of Dog Training
by Leon Fradley, Whitney
This is one of the first books I read on the subject. I think I was about 8 or 9 when I read it. It is out-of-print but available used through Amazon. (really cheap too)
The Dog’s Mind: Understanding Dog Behavior
by Bruce Fogle, Anne B. Wilson
How to Speak Dog: Mastering the Art of Dog-Human Communication
by Stanley Coren
I also highly recommend:
Mother Knows Best: The Natural Way to Train your Dog
by Carol Lea Benjamin
If you get one book on dog training- get this one. It gives you insight to the way to dog thinks as well as being a great book on training the dog in a way the dog will understand.
It seems to me that D/S would clearly be an issue in all areas of dog ownership, and I appreciate the concept being introduced, I haven’t considered the issue from the perspective you’ve presented. What type of training methods work with dogs that incorporates their natural psychology? Are there “dog whisperers”?
Yes there are “dog whisperers” – people who can speak dog and understand dogs and then communicate with the dog on their level have the ability to train dogs while others might look at it from the outside, just wondering how they do that! The book- Mother Knows best and Leader of the Pack give ways of training your dog, and establishing the position of Alpha.
I have been around dogs my entire life- I was literally raised by a white German Shepherd. I think I may have learned to speak dog right along with English. I started reading dog training books and moved into the adult section of the library to read dog training books and dog psychology books at a very young age- about 8 or 9 years of age. I sort of took this for granted for a long time and it was not until my partner and I moved it with someone who had a small dog that I realized that not everyone can speak dog. My partner is clueless. he is completely in the dark here. The day we were moving in- I told him that the male dog (a very small dog) would be likely to bite him as he thinks he is dominant in this household and he will try to establish that with us (new people to the ‘pack’). He sort of blew off my warning and later the same day the dog tried to bite him. He was astounded that I had known it and asked me how I knew! It was so obvious to me that I really had never thought about how I knew that before. I just read the body language. The books above will help you to understand and speak dog language too!🙂
Whenever I raise a puppy- I do t-posturing with the puppy- I do this with adult dogs too – but ONLY with more dominant dogs. More submissive dogs don’t want to move up so they don’t need the reminder. T-posturing is sort of like mounting- if you ever see dogs together you will usually see t-posturing and/or mounting so it is a very good way to establish dominance in the dog’s language. with dogs- one dog (the more subordinate) will be standing and the more dominant dog will come up and put their paws on the back of the other dog. There is no humping motion they just stay like that for a few seconds.
Is there any literature or information on whether STD’s are given to or transmitted by dogs?
There are no STDs that can be transmitted from dogs to people or the other way around. There ARE Diseases that can be transmitted but not by sex. Rabies is the most deadly- and everyone should be getting the dog vaccinated (this is a LAW for those that don’t know- by LAW in CA you must get a rabies vaccine administered by a vet- this is a requirement for the dog license). Also there may be some parasites but most parasites tend to be species specific (or several species specific for those parasites that have a cycle of hosts they move through). The dog tapeworms are different species from human tapeworms. There are a lot of really nasty parasites out there that like human hosts (I can describe in intimate gory detail the life cycles of many of them too!!!! ) but none of them come from dogs. The most common parasites that will go for human hosts are fleas and ticks- neither of which care if you have sex with the dog or not.
What part does manual or oral stimulation of the dog play in the D/S of dog psychology?
I am not sure I understand the last question- but it sounds like “do dogs have any D/s built into oral sex or masturbation like they do with actual sex?” If that is not the question please let me know and I will answer it!
Dogs don’t really masturbate or do oral sex so they don’t have anything built into it like we do (or like some of us do). I have known of vets that have ‘jacked off dogs’ – to get a sample (sperm counts for instance in dogs that will be used for breeding) and there doesn’t seem to be any connection to dominance there. There have not been any real studies on this so all I have to go on is my personal experience. There could be a chance that engaging in oral with a dog might give the dog (if he is more dominant) the idea that he can move up in the pack order.
Also- let me make the point again- that I am not against the fantasy- just the reality (as I feel sex with dogs is harmful to dogs just as I feel that sex with children is harmful to children). I have NO problem with the many stories that abound out there- some of them are hot, I must admit. But like the stories I write- the author controls everything in the story. You don’t have to worry about dog psychology in a story because the dogs are not real- as I don’t have to worry about legal issues or any harmful effects of rape on my victims in my stories because those people don’t really exist (at least not in our tangible world).
If you have any other questions I am happy to answer. If I don’t know the answer I will do what I can to find one for you.
I want to add to my list of references as this was written before the Dog Whisperer was on TV! I HIGHLY recommend Cesar Millan’s show The Dog Whisperer for understanding how to act so your dog behaves. He teaches people how to act properly with dogs and he is VERY successful. He has even taken some very aggressive dogs and worked with the dogs and the people to balance the situation and help establish the owners as the Leader of the Pack in the household. He has also written several books which I very highly recommend:
Be the Pack Leader
How to Raise the Perfect Dog: Through Puppyhood and Beyond
Cesar’s Rules: Your Way to Train a Well-Behaved Dog
I also really like Victoria Stilwell’s show “It’s Me or the Dog”. I think that kinky folks in particular will enjoy her particular style. She has also written a book:
It’s Me or the Dog: How to Have the Perfect Pet
You can find clips from the shows on YouTube- just search for Dog Whisperer, Cesar Millan, It’s Me or the Dog, Victoria Stilwell. Once you get one video you will find others.
In addition to my books above, I also recommend:
How to Behave so Your Dog Behaves
By Sophia Yin
If you go to Resources on the menu- you can get to videos. These videos are amazing examples of behavior modification using mostly positive methods.
If anyone has any further questions or believe I can help them in any way, please feel free to contact me:
www.darksideofpassion.com (currently down)
Atheris on FetLife