If I had a pound for every time someone mentions dominance to me, well I’d have a few £50 notes!
Dominance has been thrown around as an explanation for almost every canine behaviour.
That dogs pulls you out the door, it’s dominant. That dog humps you, it’s dominant. That dog growled at you, it’s dominant. That dog bit the other dog, it’s dominant.
Dominance and pack theory has been disproven for years but uneducated people and ‘dog professional’ still throw it around.
Well, I’m here to educate you.
To shout from the rooftops, NO!!!
Putting the dominance sticker on all of these behaviours does not solve anything. It doesn’t teach us the true reason behind why our dogs are acting that way. It is also just wrong!
Many of the behaviours people label as dominant are normal behaviours we have decided aren’t appropriate such as jumping up.
A dog who is barking and lunging at other dogs isn’t dominant. It’s scared or frustrated.
Labelling behaviours as dominant also means we are more likely to meet it with force. If someone tells you that your sweet little dog is trying to take over your home and wants to dominate you, you are more likely to use force and pain to ‘correct’ that behaviour.
If someone squares up to you at the pub you are likely to try avoidance first. ‘Please leave me alone’ when that doesn’t work what is the next go to. You are going to meet violence with violence. Even if you take a beating the first few times, eventually you aren’t going to take it anymore.
This is why using force isn't a good idea. Also in this day and age, we don't have to. There is no need for it.
Apparently, the number one way to rise to the top of the pack is to bully your dog. Buy a ‘special’ collar that will hurt your dog when it pulls. Don’t let your dog on the sofa or your bed, shout at them to get off. I’ve even had clients tell me they were spitting on their dog's food so that meant they were alpha!!!
Just because dominance theory has been around for a long time does not make it right. I mean we used to think the world was flat!
Dominance theory has been in place for as long as we have used dogs for our needs. If you look at very old dog training books. They talk about breaking dogs, dominating them using horrific, cruel ways to ‘train’ their animals.
Who was dominating who!?
Dominance was repackaged in 1946. Rudolph Schenkel studied a group of unrelated wolves in a 200m square enclosure. If you know anything about wolves you know they live in family groups and have territories that cover hundreds of square miles.
So imagine, these unrelated wolves being in an enclosure that compared to their normal territory is basically a postage stamp.
Imagine the stress those wolves were under.
And what happens when animals or people are stressed??
You get abnormal, aggressive behaviour!!
So the findings from these studied were packaged up and then related to our domesticated pooches.
Estimates for when dogs were first domesticated vary from 140,000 to 14,000 years.
Dogs and wolves display very different behaviours but for some reason, we are obsessed with relating it back to the wolf. I don’t know any other species we do this with.
So how do I know this I hear you ask??
I’ve spent thousands of pounds learning. I have a BSc (Hons) in Animals Behaviour, am a full member of the Institute of Modern Dog Trainers as well as always going to seminars and continually learning.
So if someone tells you that your dog is dominating you or if you are thinking about getting a dog trainer in and they spout off pack and dominance theory, run.
Run for the hills!!!
If you need help from your dog, then contact me today. Let's start the dominance revolution today!!