Dominance in dogs is something that is constantly debated among dog trainers.
Recent research suggests that dominance should simply be used to describe one animals relationship with another and not as a type of behavior. Conflict resolution is something that all animals must come to terms with in order to survive. Injuries caused by unnecessary fighting between individuals of the same species is detrimental to the species survival. Dominance and submission relationships are critical to keeping peace between members of the same family. Click HERE for a link to the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior Position Statements on Dominance.
David Mech, the original researcher who coined the term “alpha,” now retracts his statement about wolf packs competing for alpha status. He now states that wolf packs are similar to families. The “alphas” are usually the parents and the subordinates are offspring. Dominance is simply a matter of “respecting your elders.”
Dominance Is Expressed To Keep Possession Over Resources
When one dog has possession of a resource such as food, a mate, water, or comfort, they can express their dominance over other animals to keep that resource. Keeping possession over resources is a critical survival skill that is necessary to all animals. If an animal is unable to keep possession, then they will likely perish or go through severe hardships. Unfortunately, just because a dog is now usually located in a home with ample resources doesn’t mean they will stop guarding their possessions. Clients often fail to understand this and are quick to label their dogs as dominant or submissive when conflicts occur.
How do you explain dominance to your clients? Share in the comments below.