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Category: Dominance Series

  1. The Prevalence of Dominance – Part 8, Why do so Many Still Believe?

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    Easiest way to dominate this dog?  Tennis Ball!So, after 7 blogs outlining why the dominance theory is no longer valid you may be left asking yourself, if dominance theory is wrong, why do so many people still believe it?  Surely this is evidence in itself that there is some truth in it?

    Firstly, consider this - just because a lot of people may think something is true, doesn’t make it true.  There was a time when everyone believed the earth was flat and supported by 4 elephants on the back of a giant turtle.  Or held up by a huge guy called Atlas.  And that the earth was the centre of the universe and the sun moved around the earth.  And that the atom was the smallest thing in the universe.  And that goldfish have 3 second memories.  And that Praying Mantis females always eat the males after sex.  All untrue – well actually the latter does happen sometimes, but not all the time - a recent study of 69 copulating mantis’s showed only 1 ended up eating the male!  The fact is many things that we have often held as definitely true, are not.  That we ever believed them in the first place doesn’t make us stupid, the same possibly can’t be said if we continue to believe these things despite it being proved they are wrong. 

  2. The Prevalence of Dominance – Part 7, Aren’t you just being Pedantic?

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    Rewarding a Good Recall Works Much Better than Punishing Bad OnesIn the first 6 (yes I do like to write!) parts of my blog I explained the reasons why I, like so many other modern dog trainers and behaviourists today, no longer feel that the dominance theory can be used to explain our dogs behaviours and I also touched on some positive methods for dealing with problem behaviours.  Hopefully these arguments have successfully explained to you why the dominance theory is so flawed, but I suspect that you still may be wanting to point out that even if the theory is wrong, the methods work!  That dogs still need to be shown ‘their place’ in the household and when they’ve done wrong.  That nice methods don’t always work – you’ve known someone who tried treating their dogs all the time and their behaviour got worse, not better.  Am I (and all the other trainers who get so riled up by dominance theory) not just being a bit fussy and naïve in promoting rewarding training methods? 

  3. The Prevalence of Dominance – Part 6, Aggression

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    Is aggression a sign of a dominant dog?

    It is all too easy to see why aggression has been labelled as dominance.  So many of us still believe in the concept of violent wolf packs with its members fighting for a dominant role, that whenever we see any signs of aggression, barking at people or dogs, snarling or even fighting and attacking, we simply label it as a dog feeling the need to challenge for status.  Even now knowing that wolves do not live like this, that they prefer to live peaceably, not in constant tension, we wonder why there are still so many aggressive dogs that come from happy, ‘normal’ homes.  Dominance seems like a fitting explanation.  But is it?  What else could cause aggression?