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Do I Need to Show My Dog I’m the Alpha Leader?

There was a time where dog training took a page from wolf behavior research and pack theory. With the modification of pack theory research, dog training has dismissed it’s relevance to training, and positive reinforcement has replaced it long ago. However, there is a certain appeal to this type of dog training, not helped by the rise of a certain reality TV star with ZERO dog training certifications. As I’ve mentioned before this is in part due to the fact that there is no regulation in the dog training world and anyone can claim to be an expert trainer. So then what makes me the expert? I’m not, and you should be wary of anyone that boasts about their expertise. I learned decades ago in my IT career that the person claiming to know everything was not the person to go to for answers. Rather a consensus from the people who have repeatedly demonstrated past knowledge and skill would usually help me decide the best path forward. I’ve applied that same logic to my career as a dog trainer. I’ve provided an excellent article from the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior and a link to an excellent video called Tough Love. Note that most of trainers and behaviorists in this video came from a background of domination and punishment training. After all, that is how dogs were trained 50 years ago – with a stick. I know that some of you reading this loved Cesar or have been taught by someone still believing in dominance and pack theory. If you feel the necessity to rebuke my stance, understand this first; I’m not saying that dominance or a pack mentality doesn’t exist in the dog world. I just don’t think it is necessary in dog training. In fact I believe reward based training works better. It may take longer, but in the end I have a dog that truly understands which behaviors are appreciated and which are not. I also have a dog that is less likely to have developed unwanted fear or aggression and is my buddy. I think dominance training will serve you well if you’re looking to have a confrontational relationship with your dog, but that is not what I seek, nor is what any of my clients have asked for.

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