The dominance debate:


When someone ask about a problem they are having with a dog invariably there will be two types of answers. Several people will say you need to be the pack leader or “Alpha.” Immediately this will be countered by several who proclaim, “The dominance theory of dog packs has been debunked!”

The “debunked” people think that anytime someone mentions “Alpha” they are talking about alpha rolling a dog for every little infraction. In fact, the alpha-roll is hardly ever used by a real trainer.

Alpha is another term…ready for this…” Leader.”

So, when someone says you need to be the Alpha…they are saying you need to be the leader of the pack.

They are not saying, “Beat your dog into submission, and alpha roll that sucker every time it looks crosswise.”

Your remarks to a question for help stating: “The dominance theory has been debunked. Use positive teamwork and partnership instead.” Does nothing to help that person with their problem!

What exactly do you mean? How are they supposed to do that?

If you don’t have the answer why did you even respond?

This shouldn’t even be a debate. You should actually do some research instead of surfing headlines or hitching your wagon to someone else’s ideals pulled out of context.

This is not a subject that can be understood by reading one sentence. Dog behavior is complicated, and there are no one-line answers. If you really want to understand things start with this article from Ralf Weber.

Ralf Weber is a certified dog trainer (IACP CDT) and behaviorist. A professional member of the International Association of Canine Professionals (IACP) and an AKC evaluator for Puppy S.T.A.R., Canine Good Citizen, and Community Canine certifications.


2 Comments on “The dominance debate:

  1. Absolutely right (in my own opinion & experience).
    I learned a huge amount from Monty Robert’s “Equus”. He went against everything cruel in ‘breaking in’ a horse. He hated how his father, and everone else did it ‘their way as the right way’.
    Proving it has made him turn everything around in animal training (for many) and even HM The Queen Elizabeth ll had him over to the UK to show her own trainer to learn & apply MR’s Equus to her stables at Windsor.
    I have been fortunate to have met and watched Monty here in the UK including after his show, and personally knew the Queen’s trainer (through my second marriage as a family connection).
    I just wish our so called higher intelligent species (homo sapiens) would a) stop, b) listen or tead, c) THINK & reason, d) acknowledge/accept and e) apply what has been proven as ‘the right way in training or rather, gaining trust and respect from man’s best friend with total unconditional love. Both ways.

    Even my previous & current spouses use undesirable ways. Smacking the head or nose .. too hard. My boy flinched if my hand goes over his head (recently) and I feel utterly enraged and sad.
    I may just be heading into my third divorce unless he really listens, and heeds me.. but there’s an arrogance I don’t like with excuses and inapplicable defense from him. ( ‘always my fault’; (he says);
    ‘you’re always right; you know everything’, (he says)
    After 20 years.. my patience is now wearing a tad thin … maybe it’s time to go solo. For good.
    Just need to win the lotto. I literally cannot afford a third divorce. 😐


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