I have just read a recent website article titled “How to Dominate a Dog and become the Alpha Leader”. This was written this year and the ‘expert’ writing it gives advice about how to makes sure your dog knows you are Alpha. Some of the suggestions were:
Make eye contact – stare at your dog when are they acting out of line.
Don’t let your dog walk in front of you because only the Alpha leads the pack.
Control all the resources – don’t let your dog have any food or toys without you giving it to them.
Don’t allow them on the bed or sofa.
Misbehaving is your dog trying to test the boundaries and needs to be corrected.
Get your dog to earn everything – nothing is for free.
All these things make you a strong leader and is you asserting your dominance so your dog will learn to be a well-behaved canine.
I honestly cannot believe this sort of article is still being written and still allowing people to be misinformed about how to train and live with dogs. This information is so outdated. It has now been disproved by scientists; however, these sorts of myths just won’t go away. I feel so sad for dog owners who are trying their best to raise their dog to be a wonderful family member when these sorts of articles are still being spouted by so called experts!
Why do we seem to cling onto outdated, factually incorrect information? Is it deeper than this? Is it that sometimes we feel out of control with our dogs and that being told to ‘be more Alpha’ connects with something more basic that makes sense to us? If we fear something or don’t understand it, then control must be the only option? Discipline is needed. Right and wrong – a moral judgment is required.
Dogs are not moral. They have no concept of right and wrong. They see the world as what’s successful/safe versus unsuccessful/unsafe. So, when we say things like “they knew they shouldn’t be doing that” it’s not correct. Yes, they give a brilliant ‘guilty’ face, which we take as them ‘knowing’ they did wrong. The appeasement body language they are displaying is in response to your emotional state or past memories of what happens in these situations. For example: your dog chews the sofa when you are out of the house. You come home, you are angry and shout at the dog. Dog learns, when you come home you are sometimes angry and upset, so they learn to show appeasement when you return home. The sofa chewing isn’t in their radar of why you are reacting like that. You need to look at why the dog was chewing the sofa: boredom, stress, anxiety, teething etc. The underlying reason of ‘why’ needs to be addressed, not punish them for doing it.
I honestly understand that sometimes our dogs can cause us stress, worry and anxiety. Some behaviour problems can impact every aspect of our lives. Not being able to walk on the beach in case you see another dog, not having visitors in your home for fear of them showing aggression, not being able to go out to social events because your dog cannot be left alone. There are lots of behaviours that our dogs need our support to help them with, to live in our human world. They don’t need us to dominate them, to be more Alpha, to stop any freedom of choice or prevent them from having a trusting relationship with us.
If you get a dog to dominate and rule like an Alpha, then can I please suggest you don’t get one.