Thursday, February 19, 2009

Dominance and Pack Theories

I have been hearing and reading much debate over the use of dominance and pack theories to train domestic dogs. I am currently drafting an article and would like to share some of the important points. Please note that more research is pending.

1. Dog, like their wolf ancestors, are pack animals. A "pack" is simply a social unit. Humans, too, live in social units which include hierarchies.

2. Neither wolf nor domestic pups are born instinctively understanding the pack rules. They are taught by other pack members.

3. The roles in a pack change. Subordinate wolves will challenge each other to move up in rank.

4. Dominance (use of agression and submission) is used by wolves to establish leadership. BUT, it is not the only way. Alpha males and females also establish leadership through their experience and hunting skills. Dominance is used when it is the only means available.

5. We need to teach dogs their role in our human society, not a wolf pack. I am not a canine, so I will not pretend to be one.

6. Use of fear/agression and submission communicates the use of such tactics are acceptable. This creates the potential of a dog challenging a subordinate family member's role; such as a child or another dog.

7. Humans can easily control a dog's resources without use of dominance. Deciding when/where a dog eliminates, eats, sleeps, etc. quickly establishes leadership role.

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