Does dog domination theory work?
“The dog will only obey the alpha male, which means that the owner must dominate it. As soon as you loosen your grip, the dog will take your leadership away … ” Have you heard such allegations? They were born from the theory of dominance in the “dog – owner” relationship. But does it work?
What is the theory of dominance?
The theory of dominance (“Flock theory”) was born in the 20th century. One of its founders was David Mitch, a scientist and expert on wolf behavior. In the 70s, he examined the hierarchy in wolf packs and found that the leader of the pack was the most aggressive and strongest male, and the rest obeyed him. Mitch called such a male an alpha wolf.
That sounds believable. Many people just imagine the relationship between wolves. But then the fun began. The “flock theory” was criticized, and soon David Miche himself denied his own ideas.
The refutation of the theory of dominance
How was the “Pack theory” born? For a long time, Mich observed the relationship of wolves in a pack. But the scientist missed one important fact: the flock, which he watched, was kept in captivity.
Further observations showed that in a natural habitat, relations between wolves are built in completely different scenarios. The older wolves really dominate the younger ones, but these relationships are not built on fear, but on respect. Growing up, wolves leave the parental pack and form their own. They teach young animals survival, protect them from dangers, set their own rules – and the children obey their parents because they respect them and adopt their knowledge. Having matured and mastered the basics of life, younger wolves say goodbye to their parents and leave to create new schools. All this is similar to building relationships in the human family.
Recall the wolves that experts observed in captivity. There were no family ties between them. These were wolves, captured at different times, in different territories, they did not know anything about each other. All these animals were placed in an open-air cage, and their conditions were not much different from a concentration camp. It is logical that the wolves began to show aggression and fight for leadership, because they were not a family, but prisoners.
With the acquisition of new knowledge, Mitch abandoned the term “Alpha Wolf” and began to use the definitions of “she-wolf – mother” and “wolf – father.” So David Mitch dispelled his own theory.
Does domination theory work?
Theory of dominance and dogs
Even if we temporarily imagine that the Pack theory would work, we still would not have any reason to shift the mechanisms of building relationships in a pack of wolves to pets.
First of all, dogs are a domesticated species that is very different from wolves. So, genetically, dogs tend to trust people, but no wolves. Numerous studies have shown that dogs use the “tips” of a person to complete the task, while the wolves act separately and do not trust the person.
Scientists have observed the hierarchy in packs of stray dogs. It turned out that the leader of the pack is not the most aggressive, but the most experienced pet. Interestingly, in the same flock, leaders often change. Depending on the circumstances, this or that dog takes on the role of leader. It seems that the pack chooses the leader whose experience in a particular situation will lead to the best result for everyone.
But even if we did not know all this, a man still could not dominate the dog. Why? Because only representatives of the same species can dominate each other. The owner cannot dominate his dog because he belongs to a different species. But for some reason, even professionals forget about it and use the term incorrectly.
Of course, the status of a person should be higher than the status of a dog. But how to come to this?
How to build a relationship with a dog?
The failed theory of dominance gave rise to a huge number of educational methods based on the submission and use of brute force. “Do not let the dog go through the door in front of you,” “Do not let the dog eat before you ate yourself,” “Do not let the dog win something from you,” “If the dog does not obey, put it on the shoulder blades ( the so-called “alpha coup”) – all these are echoes of the theory of dominance. When building such a “relationship”, the owner must constantly control himself, be tough, not show affection for the dog, so as not to accidentally miss his “dominance”. And what a dog had!
But even when Mitch himself refuted his own theory and new results were obtained from studies of the behavior of wolves and dogs, the theory of domination was perverted and remained alive. Surprisingly, even now some dog handlers adhere to it unreasonably. Therefore, giving the dog for training or seeking help in education, you must first clarify what method the specialist works with.
Brute force in training a dog is bad form. Inflicting pain and intimidation on a pet has never led to good results.