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Dominance in Dogs


Did I ever tell you that I want to become Prime Minister? Surely a dog in charge would bring a bit more common sense in to politics and I am sure I would be cheaper to maintain.

On a more serious note, I just so dislike this term dominance that is bandied about. Basically this is what you humans tend to label us animals as soon as we do something you don’t like, even as silly as us walking through a door first, or lying on your bed, jumping up or refusing to give you our favourite toy. Suddenly we are trying to be dominant. Give me a break!

The dominance myth says that we do undesirable things because we want to dominate you or be the pack leader. When you assign human motivations to our behaviour, not only is it unfair but it also sets up a power struggle. If you start believing we are acting out of ‘spite’ or are trying to ‘dominate’ you, then you look for ways to put us in our place or punish us without understanding why we might have truly behaved that way.

Gosh, I never realised that my rushing out the door ahead of you was because I was trying to teach you ‘your’ place, I just did it because I was so excited to get outside to go play. I love sitting on the couch as it’s so comfy, not because I am trying to take over your chair. Why don’t you just teach me what you would like me to do instead, if it is so important.

This theory all started with studies of captive wolves, note they were captive! Since dogs were essentially domesticated wolves and captive wolves have a strict hierarchy, it was thought to be the same for dogs, WRONG! Firstly, wolves don’t have a rigid hierarchy except in captivity, and secondly dogs and wolves are separated by 20,000 years or so. Feral domesticated dogs don’t even live in packs but alone or in small groups so that blows another theory.

So if I growl or attempt to bite you, am I dominant? Actually that is highly unlikely. I just might not like you, just kidding. We dogs are more likely to bite for defensive reasons, and once again you humans missed all the signals or information prior to this interaction which was trying to say please go away, please leave me alone and I then felt I was left no choice.

If any of your dogs are showing signs of aggression, please speak to the staff here as then they can try to work out actually what is going on or recommend someone like Dr. Linda Davidge, which is much safer for everyone.

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