• Feb 7, 2020

Sometimes the impression that all talk on obedience and problems of behavior of dogs anyway comes down to a subject " of domination develops". Owners of dogs argue that they have to become "leaders of pack" and "an alpha dog in own house".

 Alpha dog concept of a photo

Photo: flickr

One of the reasons is that the person calling himself "the exorcist of dogs", notorious "trainer" Caesar Mylan with might and main tries to popularize use of cruel and violent methods "to zadominirovat" disobedient dogs.

But whether the concept of "Alpha dog" really works? Modern researches call the similar ideas into question and speak about their insolvency.

Scientists against

In particular, senseless Mylan's approach in the cruelty professor of psychology of the University of British Columbia, PhD., DSc, FRSC, the author of a set of books about dogs criticizes of Stanley of Coren (including such how The Modern Dog, Why Do Dogs Have Wet Noses? The Pawprints of History, How Dogs Think, How To Speak Dog, Why We Love the Dogs We Do, What Do Dogs Know? The Intelligence of Dogs, Why Does My Dog Act That Way? Understanding Dogs for Dummies, Sleep Thieves, The Left-hander Syndrome).

Mylan's methods, Stanley Coren claims, do not find support among most of experts in behavior of dogs and researchers.

we Will begin
with the fact that Caesar Mylan proclaimed himself "the exorcist of dogs" that sounds quite strange. It is rephrasing of the title "The Horse Whisperer" which was used for the first time, speaking about such specialists in training of horses as Willis J. Powell and Monty Roberts. But they were called "exorcists" just because they refused to use brute force which was the standard way of communication with difficult and aggressive horses, and developed softer methods! That is comparison is obvious not in favor of Mylan.

About receptions which are used by Mylan experts, in particular, of of Jean of Donaldson , the director of SPCA Academy for Dog Trainers in San Francisco, speak so: "Professionalism which regards as of paramount importance humane standards and competent receptions was pushed by this person very far for the sake of a show and earning money … To use the word "exorcist" in combination with use of strangleholds, cruel and illiterate ways absolutely unfair and it is impossible".

Ian of Dunbar , the famous and deeply dear expert in behavior of dogs having besides scientific degree in the sphere of veterinary science and doctor's degree in psychology, were created by DVDs under the name Fighting Dominance in a Dog Whispering World so upset. They totally crushed the methods used by Mylan in a popular TV-show. Cruelly Mylan's methods and other experts in behavior of dogs and trainers criticized.

However, Caesar Mylan is too small fry to pay to him much attention, Stanley Coren considers. There is more fundamental question which should be considered. For example, whether the concept of domination, and, in particular, the idea becoming "An alpha dog – the leader of pack" works in general?

 Dogs fight houses of a photo

Photo: flickr

Conrad Lorentz and the idea of domination at dogs

Conrad Lorentz in the book "Ring of the Tsar Solomon" published in 1949 describes a difference in behavior of a prepotent and subdominant dog. Lorentz who became the Nobel Prize laureate and one of the first experts in behavior of animals was based on observations of own dogs. If one dog was more aggressive and imperious (dominants), other dog recognized her status, showing behavior of submission (subdominants). Lorentz considered that the person also builds up the domination relationship with a dog as if he threatened with one of dogs, it showed just the same signs of submission in relation to it.

Certainly, nobody argues with an invaluable contribution of Conrad Lorentz to ethology. However it should be taken into account and still something.

First, Lorentz studied other animals (in particular, of gray geese ), but did not make scientific experiments with dogs – his point of view is based only on observation of own pets.

Secondly, representations of scientists usually reflect culture and beliefs occurring during that historical period when these scientists live. Lorentz was born in Austria in 1903 – and it speaks about much. Conrad Lorentz's ideas of dogs developed under the influence of those methods of training of dogs who practiced at that time, and the majority of these methods was developed by the German military for training of guard dogs. And methods of training of dogs at that time reflected the general approaches existing in army of that time so, were based on the most strict discipline and use of force apropos and without cause. The concrete tools developed for training, according to this approach, included, for example, use of leads with a lash on one end that near at hand there was always a tool for beating of a dog if it did not execute the command.

 Belgian sheep-dog military dog of a photo in a deaf muzzle

Photo: littlerock.af.mil

the Colonel of Konrad Most very well described the training philosophy predominating in Germany at that time. "Without coercion it is absolutely impossible to train neither a dog, nor the person. Even the kindest owner of dogs will not be able to do in communication with the four-footed idol to which worships, without violence".

In other words, the German soldiery of the first half of the 20th century was unshakable: it is necessary to use force to establish domination, and then to use this domination to control behavior of a dog.

David L. Mech: ideas of domination and "Alpha wolf"

The first research conducted by experts in behavior of wolves, appear, confirms the idea about social hierarchy, rigidny, similar to soldiery, as a rule, supported by means of physical force and intimidation. The leader – "Alpha wolf" — by means of violent methods and threats maintains the status of the leader. However, unfortunately for fans of violent methods, further researches showed to full insolvency of this idea .

L. of Mech was one of the first scientists investigating behavior of wolves in the wild nature. In the seventies the 20th centuries he published the book written under the influence of earlier dominating ideas, including Lorentz's ideas and in it described the leader of pack as "Alpha wolf". However later he doubted legitimacy of use of this term. Now it claims at all that this label cannot be used categorically as he mistakenly hints that wolves fight for the sake of domination establishment.

In fact, in process of growing wolves leave parental family to find couple and to bring posterity which forms new, their own pack into world. And the dominance arises just because parents, as well as in any family, naturally control behavior of offsprings, in the same way as it occurs in parental family.

As well as in normal human families, parents softly establish reasonable rules. And in this case the term "Alpha" Mech does not use. Instead of it it uses the term "the breeding male and a female" ("breeding" male or female) in pack. Or just she-wolf mother and wolf father.

 Couple of wolves in the forest of a photo

Photo: pixabay.com

Thus, the idea of "Alpha wolf" can be used only in the description of artificially created pack when the person gathers animals not related each other, and, for example, accidentally caught wolves placed in the open-air cage.

In such unnatural social groups animals can quite battle for leadership, and there will be "Alpha wolf". But it is not family any more, and more likely prison of a high security .

But wolves are, besides, not dogs!

Certainly, dogs, besides, at the expense of domestication strongly differ from wolves. Also it is possible to address, for example, the research Roberto Bonanni (University of Parma, 2010).

They studied packs of stray dogs and came to a conclusion that leadership – a thing changeable . For example, in one pack totaling 27 animals, generally six dogs undertook a role of the leader of pack in different cases, however at least a half of adult dogs at least sometimes also undertook a role of the leader. It became clear that the role of the leader was delegated most often to more skilled dogs, but, by the way, it is not obligatory for the most aggressive at all.

It seemed, pack allows this or that dog to undertake a role of the leader at the concrete moment to derive the maximum benefit from current situation and to get access to necessary resources.

 Pack of stray dogs of a photo

Photo: wikimedia

Why to us to know about it?

First that critically to treat the idea of use of brute force in training of a dog.

Secondly to understand that the technicians used by people like Caesar Mylan and other supporters of "soldiery" in training of dogs and correction of behavior are based on false prerequisite . It is heritage of the German soldiery of the last century and also the unreasonable generalization based on the only observation of captured wolves in unnatural conditions.

 the Dog black shaggy looks at the person of a photo

Photo: pxhere

And, perhaps, now it is a high time to reconsider views of training of dogs and obedience in favor of the methods based by on a positive reinforcement . From this point of view, control of behavior of a dog is first of all work with her motivation and requirements , such as food, game and social interaction, instead of use of brute force for absolutely unnecessary and unnatural "domination" over the pet.

If you correctly organize living conditions dogs and offer it what is necessary at present, the dog will cooperate willingly with you. And this approach is much more effective than so-called "domination".

Certainly, the status of the person has to be higher, than at a dog. However it can easily be reached not by brute force, and by means of respect and use of encouragement .

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