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The Trouble with "Dominance" in Dog Training

We've all heard it before: "You have to be the alpha!" or "Your dog is trying to dominate you!" This idea that dogs are constantly trying to be "in charge" runs deep, but unfortunately, it's a big misunderstanding.

Wolf and dog may look the same, but they are entirely different species
Wolf and dog may look the same, but they are entirely different species

Outdated Ideas vs. Science

The idea of an all-powerful "pack leader" came from a flawed study on captive wolves in 1947 by Rudolph Schenkel. Since then, science has shown us that this doesn't apply to our pet dogs nor to wolves. Even the wolf scientists stopped using this term nowadays https://wolf.org/headlines/44265/. Dogs actually thrive on cooperation! Imagine if the opposite were true – it'd be a messy world, wouldn't it?


Why the Dominance Theory Hurts

Here's the problem with trying to "dominate" your dog: it leads to force, fear, and makes training a constant battle. It's like having a boss who only knows how to yell and punish rather than encourage and support. Not good for learning or building a loving relationship!


Dogs Aren't Trying to Take Over

Think about it: aggression is actually a way for dogs to communicate. Fear, feeling threatened, or guarding something important can all make them lash out – it's how they say "Back off!" or "That hurts!" Just like humans use words, dogs use their bodies to talk. Understanding why they're acting a certain way is key, not just squashing the behaviour.


What Works: Cooperation & Trust

Dogs have lived alongside humans for thousands of years – there's a reason we're such great pals! Ditch the "boss" mentality and focus on positive reinforcement and what your dog wants to learn. Think of it like being a coach, not the drill sergeant. That's where the true connection and joy of living with a dog shines through.


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