Title: “Communicate, Cooperate, Educate – Belong”: And the Real Science Behind Social Dominance
|CPDT-KSA Knowledge:||1.5||CBCC-KSA Knowledge:||1.5|
|CPDT-KSA Skills:||0||CBCC-KSA Skills:||0|
The popularity of the need to “be dominant” over one’s dog has waxed and waned over the years. In the early 1990’s when Suzanne began suggesting at conferences that the “pack leader” model of our relationships with our dogs was not all it was cracked up to be, people walked out of her lectures, and a well-known humane society refused to publish her article on the subject. Today, segments of the dog training community still promote the “dominance model” of relating to dogs, while the other end of the spectrum has become the belief that dominance relationships don’t even exist among dogs. A 2008 article about the myth of the “alpha wolf” by David Mech, Ph.D., a wildlife biologist with over 50 years of field experience observing wolves, is now the backbone reference used by the dog training and behavior community as evidence for abandoning traditional ideas about dominance in dogs. Good as it is, Mech’s article is about only one species of social mammal, and barely scratches the surface of the ethological literature on social dominance in animals. In the middle of the spectrum, things have gotten muddy. Several new popular books we’ve run across on the subject end up talking in circles because they do not reflect familiarity with the science behind social dominance in general and the latest research findings that apply to dogs. We still have dog owners come to us confused about how best to relate to their dogs, and pet pros unsure about how to talk to their clients about “dominance” myths. A thorough understanding of the literature and recent research on social dominance is the first step in clearing up this confusion. The second step is relationship recommendations that are easy to understand, explain and implement that replace the “be dominant” mantra.
Sponsor: Behavior Education Network
Speaker(s): Suzanne Hetts, Ph.D., CAAB, CVJ and Daniel Estep, Ph.D., CAAB