DOMINANCE DEBUNKED- The Myths & Realities of Training Dogs





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Published on Apr 17, 2010

As a dog trainer, one of the most heartbreaking things to see is the use of outdated and correction-focused training ideas. People continue to spend lots of money on training that is 'traditional'. Unfortunately, it is also detrimental to a dog's well being.

Dog training today is best understood as a combination of science and the genuine bond between a dog and their best friend. By realizing that dogs repeat behaviors that are rewarding we can communicate with them most effectively and teach them everything from good manners to mind-blowing tricks.



"Using dominance to explain behavior is old hat"


Stay tuned for more trick tutorials!

Comments • 317

Tyler Kilburn
Why do so many people troll positive training?  It is simple: "what gets rewarded, gets done."  I don't know why dog training needs to be over-complicated to be something that it is not.  The focus needs to be on learning, not an alpha-male fetish.
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+ChickenOfAwesome they rather to believe you need some special personality charm to rule a dog, instead of lear ing easy and useful methods to quickly teach a dog.
+ChickenOfAwesome they rather to believe you need some special personality charm to rule a dog, instead of lear ing easy and useful methods to quickly teach a dog.
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Grant Teeboon
Hmmm.... so you think Dominance Theory is a myth. That's interesting. If I am to believe what you say here then I must also believe that dogs do not live in social hierarchies where each dogs has a rank relative to the other, I must also believe that dogs do not discipline or challenge each other, I must also believe that that dogs do not direct dominance or submission toward each other.... and I must also believe that dogs do not ever try to dominate humans. No such thing as Dominance Theory??? Really you believe that? Well you're free to believe what you wish and I am sure you will gather a following of positive-only trainers.  You might convince many people with your flawed logic but you will never convince me nor many other professional trainers and there is one group that it will be impossible for you to convince..... Canis Lupus Familiaris. I've been a Police Dog Handler, Trainer, Instructor, Assessor and Developer with the Military for the last 33 years.  The Military teach Dominance Theory to their handlers and their dogs are trained using methods based in Dominance Theory.  If Dominance Theory is a myth, if it's wrong, if it's invalid then how can the Military train a single dog successfully?..... let alone several thousand dogs trained to the highest standard of obedience in the land. When someone comes along with a 'new' theory then it tends to gather a following initially because it's new. It may have a degree of initial credibility because it was supported by the leading academics at the time.... you know what leading academics are don't you? They are the same people that for many years said that the planets revolved around the earth, the same people who said that the earth was flat and now those same people are saying that Dominance Theory is a myth.  When the academics were saying that the planets revolved around the earth and that they could prove it, the people of earth believed them...... but that didn't change the fact that the planets continued to revolve around the sun.  When the academics were saying that the earth was flat and that they could prove it...... that didn't change the real shape of the planet.  And now you're saying that Dominance Theory is a myth? I hope you don't mind if I offer you some advice..... When an academic postulates a theory that gathers popular support but that theory contradicts reality then it is not reality that is in error. Please don't waste your time writing a counter-argument to my comments.  Ultimately it is not me you have to convince, its Dogs.  Your chosen beliefs are your own personal reality and if a group of people have those same beliefs then it is still their own reality..... but just because the majority of the smartest people on the planet thought it was flat had no effect on the actual reality or the shape of the planet.
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hels bels
Grant Teeboon amazingly written your so very right . From one very proud balanced dog behaviourist that get results . Much love your way
Andrea Zone
Ad hominem attacks are unneeded. I enjoy a good debate. I am a conversationalist which means I can talk on a wide variety of topics from animal behavior to physics. Facts are very important to me, a lot of people think I should use emotion more. My degree is a STEM program doing prerequisites to vet school. I actually read studies, not just summaries of them. You are not a dumb man in my book. Now that is out of the way... Nor do I discount using other forms of training. My point was that this could work on its own. Other forms of reinforcement are needed and I will and have used them. Without feeling the need to dominate. Many veterinary behaviorists have used positive techniques on a variety of animals from dogs to ostriches. If I must use a technique that causes pain or fear than I may be inadequate. Veterinary behaviorists consider them to be last resort. Maybe these are last resort methods. As I gain experience I will see. You understand domestic dog hierarchies are different from the wolf pack. Domestic packs are actually quite fluid. One dog may be "dominant" over a toy. Than the toy dominant dog may back down over a comfy resting spot. Same in horses, etc. Try applying dominance to a killer whale. They have a female dominance hierarchy. I view the relationship as guiding the dog as a parent would a child. But use as few treats as possible or none at all. Tug of war, the dogs dinner, etc all work depending on what the animal values most. You have obviously used some of this. I am glad to see the military uses a lot of positive reinforcement. Thanks for the insight. I love adding new ideas and information to my knowledge bank. Thanks for training dogs to serve our troops Good day to you. 
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George Hidalgo
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Nate Green
I think your right I have a dog that I have rasd from 8 weeks old he has been with me every  day for five years because of my work I'm able to take him every where I goo for the most part and our relationship is very strong. I noticed that every dog is different and they have different personalities.  MY dog is very well trained and responded very well to my commands I think its because I learn his language  I have never had to strike pull hard on his leash he responds well to my commands and accepts love and affection as a reward  along with playing with him with his ball.  I think the biggest problem people have with there dogs is because they have not taken the time to learn there dog's language . Once you understand your dog and what they are saying  your relationship with your dog will be much better. 
William Barone
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Lara Hart
Generally speaking, if you are talking about getting results. Whether you use positive or negative reinforcement, dogs will generally think the same way "I liked that I will do it again" or "I didn't like that so I won't." You can get results with either or. However positive punishment can still have a more negative effect on the dog internally. Such as cause stress or anxiety or bury their emotions. I don't think anyone will deny negative reinforcement "working" if the definition of working is having your dog follow a through with a certain behaviour. For example: A bark collar can get a dog to stop barking, but really all you have done is stopped a symptom and not address the reason why the dog is barking. Taking the time to teach the dog to relax at the reason that he was originally barking at and giving the dog a positive association with it, will also stop the dog barking. The same the result, but the difference is: Bark collar; the dog is barking because he is alert/stressed about something, now he is alert, as well as gets a shock in his neck when it tries to communicate that he is alert/stressed. Now instead of one stress that caused the barking in the first place. Their is a second stress of barking, as well as learning to internalize barking, while still being stressed about the first reason to bark. Properly giving a positive association to the reason the dog is barking, allows the dog to think it through and associate that he does not need to be stressed, and he does not need to alert someone that he is stressed. The Problem that humans see is "My dog is barking, it needs to stop" When it should be, "my dog is barking, why and how can I help?" Also teaching a Speak and Quiet cue can help too.
Sharon Wallace
This is a great video and Imtotally agree with your methods. I have a fear agressive dog who needs to build confidence. I have been told to hit him across the nose, whack him across he back and hurt him just when he is about to do something I don't what him to do. This advice comes from 'dog lovers'. I know positive conditioning works. I have seen good changes in a relatively short period of time. We do have a long way to go but I am willing to make the journey positively. Fear is crippling, punishing fear is even more damaging I think. My pup just wants to please me, all the time, but when he's in a situation he can't handle he reverts to fight or flight. It's my job to build his resilience and to become reliant on me making the right decisions for him. It's my job to not give him too much to handle so that I can build his trust. Your techniques ROCK
Cathy Palomino
I agree. Dogs look to us for guidance and they should be able to trust that we will not hurt or punish them for things they think they are being told to do. I recently got a puppy and I have a senior dog as well. My older dog was raised through hard discipline and I am using positive reinforcement for my puppy. I can see the puppy is eager to learn and this method gives you results fast and keeps your dog positive. I want to retrain my elder dog so he too can learn to have fun and relax in his later years. He learned to do basic commands but doesn't play much because the methods I used 15 years ago were outdated even then. Thank you!
Celia Slingsby
Really wish people would watch the entire video before they decide to jump on their uneducated bandwagon. He's NOT saying that dominance doesn't exist, he's saying that it's got nothing to do with training dogs. Positive reinforcement is THE most effective way to train any animal, from sea slugs to humans. That is not just my personal opinion, it's backed up by decades of research. Look it up.
melissa wolf
Cheers to you for presenting on a subject deserving the attention.  When we change our thinking about dominance, the relationship with our dogs becomes stronger.
lol we are alot like chimpanses.. our behaviour isnt that different!
Especially when it comes to male aggression and female promiscuity! ;D
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