You read all about the games-based concept training that we at DoggEd teach.
But what if my dog is trying to dominate me? Don’t you want to show the dog who’s boss?
Animal behaviorist Robert Shenkel’s findings in a pack of captive wolves in a zoo became the basis for the so-called “dominance” and “pack theory”. Zoologists have long known that animals in captivity often lose natural behaviors. That’s exactly what had happened to the captive wolf pack. Dr. David Mech referenced this study in a book he wrote.
The concept of the alpha wolf is well ingrained in the popular wolf literature, at least partly because of my book “The Wolf: Ecology and Behavior of an Endangered Species,” written in 1968, published in 1970, republished in paperback in 1981, and currently still in print, despite my numerous pleas to the publisher to stop publishing it. Although most of the book’s info is still accurate, much is outdated. We have learned more about wolves in the last 40 years then in all of previous history…An excerpt from Dr. Mech’s website
…One of the outdated pieces of information is the concept of the alpha wolf. “Alpha” implies competing with others and becoming top dog by winning a contest or battle. However, most wolves who lead packs achieved their position simply by mating and producing pups, which then became their pack. In other words they are merely breeders, or parents, and that’s all we call them today, the “breeding male,” “breeding female,” or “male parent,” “female parent,” or the “adult male” or “adult female.”
That book went on to be widely read and the “alpha” theory applied as is to dogs. Dr. Mech has since tried to correct this notion. Please see this paper.
The “dominance” or “pack theory” has been debunked more than a decade ago.
Yet today, countless trainers who have not kept up with the science, keep promoting punishment tools like prong/choke/shock collars. They ask you to be the “alpha”, the “pack leader”, they ask you to force your dog to do things they are uncomfortable with, intimidate them when they don’t listen.
None of these things are true nor are they necessary.
- No, your dog is not trying to dominate you
- No, you don’t need force in dog training
- No, you don’t need prongs, chokes, shocks, intimidation
Even “AGGRESSIVE”, “RED ZONE”, “DANGEROUS” dogs respond wonderfully to games-based training. In fact, there are several scientific studies that show that using punishment tools like prong/choke/shock collars and intimidation can worsen aggressive behaviors.