Has anyone ever told you that the dog who pulls on the leash is doing it to become the pack leader? Or if dog walks through the door in front of you is trying to dominate you? What if your dog growls at you when you take away his food bowl ? Is it all because he wants to be alpha dog so badly?

Theories like that have led people to believe that any kind of disobedience from dogs is the result of their instinctive desire to dominate everything. Unfortunately terms like “top dog” and “pack leader” have entered the vocabulary of almost every dog owner.This misunderstanding stems from the misapplication of 1940’s research on captive wolf packs to our understanding of our domestic dog dynamics. This research was refuted by the same scientists in later years.The fact is that dogs are not wolves.Wolves and dogs diverged from their last common ancestor between roughly 11,000 and 41,000 years ago.Domestic dogs are not only different in form from wolves but also their behaviour changed.However, the most importantly is that dogs do not attach as much importance as we do to the practice of determining who is better in a given situation.

One behavior that most people consider to be a display of dominance is aggression.This and most dogs’ behavioral problems stem from insecurity rather than a desire to establish rank.Although there are social hierarchies among dogs, and some may be more controlling than others, research has shown that such dynamics are not constant; rather, they are constantly changing.One dog will not control access to every resource, but will control only those it deems most valuable to itself.

Dominance has no place in today’s modern dog training.I think we need to provide leadership and good guidance to our dogs but teaching them “who’s boss” by forcing them to be submissive is the opposite of what it really takes to overcome his behavioral problems and allow him to build a strong, healthy relationship with his owner.

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