Thursday, February 24, 2011
"Dominance training" is silly
Here's a pretty simple one straight out of Jan Fennell's The Dog Listener:
By ensuring they eat first at meal times, the Alpha pair signal in unequivocal terms that they are the leaders. By giving their leaders first refusal at every meal time, the rest of the pack are acknowledging that they instinctively understand this. Even if there is only enough food for two wolves, the pack will expect the Alpha pair to eat it all to ensure the survival of the pack.
Gesture eating is my way of demonstrating the owner's primacy at feeding time.
The basic gist is that you pretend you're eating something, even part of their own food if necessary, to show them that you can eat first, to show them that the "alpha pair" always eat first. Try this with your dog sometime and see how silly you feel pretending to eat something to prove something so abstract to a dog who is probably sitting there thinking nothing more than "mmmm food."
Here's another fantastic suggestion from someone commenting on a "tip" about resource guarding.
For example. If my dog is not sharing the food dish i do not “alpha roll” him or put him into the submissive position. I get down on “all fours” and place my head over the top of his, so that my [sic] he is looking at my neck. And then i proceed to back him away from the dish, allowing the other dog to eat.
Now do me a favor and really think about this for a moment. Let's forget for a second that if a dog has a real resource guarding problem this is sure to result in your getting bit, likely in that neck that the dog is looking at (a place on your body that could result in your getting severely injured, or even killed, and will most certainly end with the death of the dog). But think about getting down on all fours and pretending you're a dog to somehow "dominate" your dog away from his food. How silly would you feel if someone came into the room while you were doing that? I know I'd feel ridiculous even if no one was around to watch. And I'm pretty sure I'd get laughed at by anyone with any sort of training background.
Other suggestions I have seen range from the misunderstood (playing tug with your dog is not about competition and if the toy ends up with the dog and not you, it doesn't mean he has "won") to the ridiculous (a dog getting on the furniture does not mean he thinks he's the "alpha") to the downright creepy (one trainer suggested humping your dog to show that you're the dominant one).
I'm not really sure how people can believe such silliness. So have you ever read anything that just made you scratch your head or giggle? Let's hear it!