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Education
3
 min

No dog is dominant or submissive...

The theory of dominance and submission in dogs is widespread and has long been used to explain canine behavior and relationships between dogs and humans. However, more and more scientific research and experiments are questioning this idea and considering it a myth.
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Author
Team Jagger.Lewis
Date of publication
April 5, 2023

The theory of dominance and submission in dogs is widespread and has long been used to explain canine behavior and relationships between dogs and humans. However, more and more scientific research and experiments are questioning this idea and considering it a myth.

The theory of dominance in dogs has its origins in studies of The behavior of wolves conducted in the middle of the 20th century. The researchers observed groups of Captive wolves and concluded that these animals lived in hierarchical groups with a dominant individual, the alpha, who controlled the other members of the group. This idea was then transposed to dogs, assuming that they functioned in the same way as their wild ancestors.

Over the decades, research on wolves and dogs has evolved, and dominance theory has been questioned. Studies on wolves in the natural environment revealed that these animals actually lived in family groups, where relationships were based on cooperation and not on the rigid hierarchy seen in captive wolves. The researchers also discovered that dogs developed specific behaviors and relationships with humans during their domestication that could not be explained simply by dominance.



Recent studies on canine behavior have shown that dogs are not naturally concerned with dominance and don't organize their social lives around hierarchy. Instead, dogs interact with each other and with humans in complex and nuanced ways, based on factors such as environment, age, gender, personality, and experience.

The application of dominance theory to dog training has led to coercive and punitive methods of education, aimed at establishing a dominant position over the dog. However, these methods have been criticized for their negative impact on the well-being of dogs and their ineffectiveness in resolving behavioral problems.

In fact, a 2009 study published in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science showed that dogs educated with dominance-based methods were more likely to present aggressive behaviors and behavioral problems than those educated with positive methods that respect animal welfare.

The theory of dominance in dogs is therefore a myth that has long influenced our understanding of canine behavior and methods of education.
However, recent research has shown that dogs don't organize their social lives around hierarchy and that dominance education methods can be counterproductive and harmful to their well-being.

It is important to recognize this evolution in our understanding of dog behavior and to adopt respectful training approaches that take into account the complexity and diversity of relationships between dogs and humans.

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