Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Is Dominance Necessary?
Dogs love to help. It gives their lives special meaning and makes them very happy. Help is not just trained behaviors. There are so many things dogs do for us that go beyond training. Happy, upbeat, positive training is important to do with any dog. Heck, you're training the dog one way or the other, because the dog is learning from every experience. It helps both the dog AND YOU to learn desirable behavior in positive ways.
Dogs have evolved and grown alongside mankind for thousands of years. Their wants and needs are parallel to our own - to be physically well, to be safe, to know friendship and love, and to be content in their lives. And as dogs help us find these things for ourselves, as friends we should help them do the same. If you can start with one simple premise it should be: treat "man's best friend" like a friend.
Much ado is made in current dog training of the "pack mentality" of the dog's wolf ancestors. The theory is that our dogs must be taught their place, with we their owners as the "alpha" canines. Most behaviorists know (and research supports) that dogs are NOW not wolves, and even if they were, a pack is not a group of unassociated animals fighting for dominance. A pack is a family unit; the alpha pair are the parents, and the pack works together to supply its needs. Think about it - a group of animals continually fighting each other for dominance would not survive for long in the wild. And they won't survive long in any home either.
The methods I now use are based on respect for dogs as sentient creatures with feelings, intelligence, and dignity and creatures with a special relationship, developed and honed over thousands of years, with humankind. I have been where the harsh trainers are - it was the way I was taught long before the Internet and 'dog training schools' ever existed.
I challenge all "new" and "old time" trainers to join me in using methods that celebrate the relationship between dogs and humans.