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The Dog Dominance Myth
Dominance in dogs is just a few simple positions and postures… or is it something that runs deeper, something that is not visible to the human eye? For many years we have been hearing about training techniques that involve the owner to act as a dominant dog. This involves the person doing things like eating first, walking with your dog next to you or behind you, instead of pulling in front of you, not letting him sleep in high positions in the house like the bed or sofa and so on.
Although these techniques can help create a good relationship with your dog, especially when used by new owners, they do not always work. From my experiences with not only training dogs, but with the observation of my dogs, I have seen inconsistencies in this theory. I have found that in many cases that all these so-called dominant positions do not mean one thing and more importantly do not always work.
For example, my 4-year-old Belgian Malinois is quite a dominant female and for the past 3.5 years has only been subservient to a senior pig-hunting female in my yard. Any other female I bring to my garden, no matter what dominant position they take. No matter how big they are, she wanted to dominate them and, if I allowed her, she would fly into them and attack them without hesitation. The same happens if I keep these females on my yard for many years, there will always be a struggle for dominance between her and the other female. This is regardless of what dominant behavior the introduced female will experience.
About 6 months ago something interesting happened in my garden. This Malinois belongs to an 18-month-old female Bulldog that I raised on my garden. This Malinois has dominated the female Bulldog all her life. Now this female Bulldog is doing the same dominant pose as all the other females have tried. But… for some reason it worked for her and the female Malinois submitted…
Another example I can think of is when a friend of mine came from Sydney to visit. I had my dog training class and at the end I needed one of my new clients to fill out some forms. This client, a husband and wife, had a 12-month-old female German shepherd that they had absolutely no control over. When completing the forms, the husband, a large man, gave control of the dog to his wife who is a much smaller person. I asked my friend who has owned dogs for many years to help her if she had problems with the dog.
It was only a minute before this dog started jumping on the lady. My friend correctly ordered the lady to check the dog with the lead. She did well but the dog kept jumping on her. Seeing this, my friend took control of the leash and checked the dog. To his astonishment and his, this crazy out of control woman fell to the floor and looked at my friend intently. She had submitted with the exact same method that did not work for the lady…
While making house calls for people with problem dogs. Too often people have commented on how calm and well behaved their dog is around me. I hear things like, “I can’t believe it, I usually jump on whoever comes in the door.” Or it is not done now for some reason. “How can this be if everything I did went into his house or garden?
I believe that there is something that dogs can see or feel that makes them submit to another animal or obey a human. And all these so-called dominant positions are secondary to this “VIBE” that someone or some dog gives. Why else would my female Malinois submit to a younger female who has done dominant positions all her life and never submit to other females who would do exactly the same? Why did the female shepherd submit to my friend and not to his owner, when he used exactly the same technique that the owner did? Why do people out of control dogs act differently when they enter the house?
Relating this “VIBE” back to dog training, I think the “VIBE” can also be called “respect”. A dog will not listen to you if it has no respect for you. Now to be clear. I believe that not letting your dog sleep on your bed creates a degree of respect. And feeding your dog the correct way will go towards your dog respecting you. Having your dog walk next to you and not in front of you will also increase the respect your dog has for you. So all these things will go into the bank account of respect and effect the relationship you have with your dog. But what I also want to make clear is that if your dog has the most respect for you, or you have the “VIBE”, you can let your dog drag you on the leash, or feed it in any way you like, or to leave. sleep on the bed and you will always be obedient. Because as I said at the beginning, all these dominant positions/techniques are only secondary to the “VIBE” it gives off.
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#Dog #Dominance #Myth