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A lot of people seem to think all dogs are trying to dominate you, and everyone, and need to be “alpha rolled” and treated harshly to keep them calm. That’s not how it works, or is. If you force your dog to do something and punish it (screaming, hitting…), then your dog will feel anxious and stressed. It’s not worth it.
Humans are trying to dominate dogs, really.
to add some things to this.
the dominance theory that is so prevalent is based on a single study done on wolves in the 70’s. no, not wild wolves, or even related wolves. a bunch of unrelated, unknown wolves thrown into a small paddock and fed with a deer corpse every so often. and these wolves did establish rigid social rankings based on the most violent/controlling individuals, using their dominance to control resources. the people in charge of the study decided this must be how all wolves form packs, and thus dog trainers decided that since dogs = wolves, this is how dogs form packs, and since this meshed so nicely with the correction-based methods of the time, it became wildly popular.
now, once we released wolves into yellowstone again, everyone and their cousin and their cousin’s brother wanted to study them. so we had a flood of data on actual wild wolves that completely debunked the study done on captive wolves. and honestly, it makes sense.
natural wolves form ‘packs’ that are just family groups, with the parents in charge and the children being taken care of by them. there may be siblings of the parents or other relatives in the pack as well, depending on how well they get along together. the children may stay too, depending on how well they get along with the parents. but usually, hormones drive up tensions between parents and children, and the children usually leave and form their own packs with other wolves who have ‘left the nest’.
dominance is simply who and how resources are controlled, and wolves often use very violent-looking ritualized displays, but they aren’t actually hurting one another. one actual fight with intent to harm will probably kill both wolves, because they will get wounded and then get infections that will probably kill them. and they know this, because lots of animals will main a prey animal then follow it until it succumbs to it’s wounds.
now, even the angle that wolves use violence to establish dominance, and that they have rank based on this, is debunked to an extent in wild wolves. wolves would much rather make space then hurt each other, which is why wolves have spread across the north america more then projected.
dogs, however, are not wolves. they’ve been their own species for tens of thousands of years, and are genetically, developmentally, physiological, and behaviorally different then wolves. just look at how different humans are from other apes. or horses and donkeys and zebra. etc.
dogs also fit into different niches then wolves. wolves are actively hunting large game. dogs evolved and did so well because they scavenged from humans and occasionally hunted things. dogs are not apex predators. dogs evolved and became domesticated because they aren’t wolves. wolves cannot be kept like dogs. there’s even thought that dogs aren’t descended from wolves, which is a whole other thing.
so, dogs basically started the domestication process. they were able to reproduce more sucessfully when they scavenged from humans, and humans probably killed the more violent dogs to protect themselves. dogs that were more social with humans and did not pose a danger to humans were able to reproduce. humans eventually started keeping them to hunt, to guard, and to eat. and boom. dogs as we know them are starting to appear.
dogs in the wild, so to speak, do not really form packs. they form loose social groupings around a resource, such as a trash dump. they won’t move as a huge pack to other places when the resource dries up, but may follow a dog [usually older and feeble] who knows where another resource is. basically, if you provide the food, the dog will believe you are a good dog to follow around to see if you might get food too.
of course, all of this applies to dog/dog relationships. animals don’t form social groups that are multi-species. dogs view people as people, not dogs. they aren’t looking to you as leader, they’re looking to you because you provide them with things they need to live, and are bred specifically for thousands of years to LOVE humans.
so basically. yeah. if you’re dog is keeping a resource, it’s dominant. resource guarding is the only form of dominance-based aggression. there are no alphas, no omegas, even in wolves. no good breeder, trainer, or vet will reference a dog as dominant. science has come far in 40 years, there’s no excuse for ignorance.
Gah, telling someone that you like them is not easy. It never is. I would think that, after 33 years, it would be, but nope, still hard, still sucks, and still twists me up inside like a silly person. Even when it ends up pretty good and the person saying that there’s potential interest, but they’re not sure where their head is, but they’re still very potentially interested in the future, I turn bright red and just lose the use of words entirely.