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Do our dogs try to dominate us?

By: wetnosesfb | June 22nd, 2009 6:28 pm

Hello dog friends,

I have been asked by a few of my website visitors about their dog’s behavior that looks to them like he/she was trying to dominate the house and the available books and articles by old school trainers suggest that all dog owners should take the bull by the horn and show the dog who is the BOSS and any bad behavior on your dog’s part is due to him trying to dominate you.

Now, you wonder if you have got the right answer? Well, let me surprise you, YOU HAVE NOT!

Dogs have never ever tried or will dominate you. This myth is just not true.

I know, you may ask as why so many books and celebrity trainers claim that “Alfa” dogs or “Leader of the pack” will take charge if you do not suppress their drive to lead you. The answer is simple: it sounds dramatic and it makes an attractive TV show. Not only that, they will give you 101 ways and show you how to get down on your poor dog and make him submissive. But even if you like watching those TV shows go for Animal Planet channel and see that even Victoria Stilwell will not blame dogs for dominance and will strongly suggest a positive reinforcement methods.

This “dominance” theory relating to dogs living in groups has been in circulation for many years and qualified behaviorists around the world are rapidly shying away from this as it became clear that domestic dog groups simply do not operate in this way.

The source of this myth is an outcome of an old research done on wolves gathered from various locations in captivity where a sort of hierarchy seamed to be observed. Although, wolves out in the wild do live in packs, they are all offspring and family related and will never challenge the hierarchy. And although, you will find the “Alfa pair” in each pack, they don’t necessarily lead the pack for hunting, for instance.

But domestic dogs had been living with humans for thousands of years and are no longer hunting for their own food so it would be wrong to compare their behaviors to those of wolves, they have evolved to be a completely different animals. And for those who insist and associate today’s dog with its wolf ancestor, it has been clearly observed that wolves will never challenge the pack hierarchy.

So the bottom line is that your dog is not trying to dominate you and you should get guidance as to how to positively reinforce your dog when training for wanted behavior and gain mutual trust and respect with your dog. Do not just try to copy TV shows ways for training.

My observation of canine behavior leads me to the conclusion that where there is a miss-behaving dog there is usually an even more ignorant and miss-behaving owner.

Your trainer, Gil

Posted In Dogs Behavior