For many years, we have been told that we need to be the leaders of the pack to earn the respect of our dog. Many training programs have forced us to believe that our dog’s undesirable behavior is due to their claim to dominance, primarily making dominance a personality trait in our children.
Dog trainers around the world have begun to question these methods over the past five years, saying that positive reinforcement is the way to go. So how is dominance training harmful to human animals? Let’s dive!
What is Dominance Theory?
The dominance theory is a model that revolves around the behavior of our dog’s wild ancestors, the wolves. This theory states that since wolves rely on certain classifications within their packs, this is a natural relationship that our dogs have been searching for to this day. Unfortunately, there are some issues with actual research on wolf behavior.
Most of the initial studies on classification within wolf packs were done with captive wolves. These studies show that men and women usually dominate each pack, but this may be due to their unnatural environment. Many of these wolves were unable to avoid the presence of other wolves that were kept with them, and they were forced to follow a pack structure to prevent conflicts.
When studying wolves in the wild, Researchers It was found that wolves prefer to live in families rather than packed and arranged packs. These families often consist of an important breed of males and females, and a few breeds of juvenile wolves. These families rarely have alpha leaders, but they are still able to keep the peace.
Do we need to be “leader packs” to earn respect for our dog?
Many of us are familiar with the famous “Dog Waspir” Caesar Milan. Milan teaches us the need to dominate our domestic children, explaining how important it is to have a pack leader in your home. This helps us to understand that our dogs are afraid to obey us and that a dog needs strict limits to be happy.
As we mentioned above, the “pack leader” mentality assures us that any undesirable behavior in dogs is due to those who try to dominate their owners. Not only is this wrong in most cases, but it ignores many of the basic social and behavioral struggles that our children are trying to run.
Dominance theory relies on strong gestures and consequences when misbehaving, which has been shown to create fear and worsen dog insecurity. With this new understanding, many dog trainers today do not believe that fear is equal to respect or obedience.
What are the challenges of being an alpha leader?
The most common difficulties in this training method are:
- Increased fear and anxiety: Many dogs have been shown to use hateful methods to increase fear and anxiety. Instead of working to build their confidence within their own skin, this style of training can add new worries to their list of struggles.
- Assumes that all aggression is related to dominance: Many dogs that show aggression are doing so out of frustration or fear that they are unable to work. Aggression is the dog’s defensive mechanism in stressful situations, and it is not certain that he is more dominant than others. Many times, aggressive dogs are actually extremely insecure in their current setting. Using harsh consequences in these situations, we can increase their current insecurity.
- It forces him to answer rather than teach: Many dogs will respond to their owners when their leashes are applied or they will face consequences, but does that really solve the bad behavior?
- Ignores the struggle of real behavior: By ignoring the underlying cause of the behavior and simply establishing dominance, you are not necessarily solving the problem. For example, if a restless dog who is not getting enough exercise on a daily basis is engaging in destructive behavior, stern signs and consequences may be only a temporary solution.
Which method of dog training works best?
Positive strength and reward-based training is now an important part of most dog trainers. This training style has been shown to avoid the side effects of unwanted behavior and strengthens the relationship between you and your dog throughout the process.
Reward-based training techniques show your dog that when he behaves well, he is rewarded with the things he enjoys. It prevents any fearful consequences and teaches your child to be a well-rounded and confident member of a loving family.