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Dominance theory

A lot of people believe that in order to have a well-behaved dog, you need to be a "strong leader" and "be dominant" over your dog.

This is in fact, a myth. Dominance theory is based on a study on captive wolves from the 1930s and 40s, which has since proven to be erroneous. Firstly, because captive, unrelated wolves don't behave the same as wolves in their natural habitat, and secondly because dogs are not wolves. The hierarchy and pack structure of dogs is significantly different from that of wolves.

If you look at the best dog trainers in the world - the people who compete with their dogs at the top level or fix severe behavioural issues such as aggression - you will notice that most of them never speak of dominance or leadership, and most of them never use harsh punishment to rehabilitate dogs.

Dog training is a science which is constantly evolving, and new research shows that training with reward based methods gives you a dog who is just as well-behaved and reliable (if not more) as the old fashioned, punishment based methods. But an added advantage is that it's easier for most people to follow through with (no one WANTS to punish their dog), is less stressful for the dog, and everyone is happier. Reward based training methods means that both the owner and the dog can have fun training together. Training is no longer a chore that no one enjoys.

Here are some links about dominance theory and why it doesn't apply to dogs and dog training:

Dog Training and the Myth of Alpha-Male Dominance

De-Bunking the "Alpha Dog" Theory

Misconceptions of the Mythical Alpha Dog

And lastly, a video from a guy who studied wolves and used to believe in dominance theory:




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