Using "Dominance" to explain dog behaviour is old hat

A new study shows how the behaviour of dogs has been misunderstood for generations.
The findings challenge many of the dominance related interpretations of behaviour and training techniques suggested by current TV dog trainers.
According to research published by academics at the University of Bristol’s Department of Clinical Veterinary Sciences,contrary to popular belief, aggressive dogs are NOT trying to assert their dominance over their canine or human pack.
The researchers spent six months studying dogs freely interacting at a Dogs Trust rehoming centre,and reanalysing data from studies of feral dogs,before concluding that individual relationships between dogs are learnt through experience rather than motivated by a desire to assert dominance.
The academics are saying that training approaches aimed at dominance reduction vary from being worthless to being actually dangerous and likely to make behaviours worse.
Instructing owners to eat before their dog or go through doors first will not influence the dog’s overall perception of the relationship and merely teach them what to expect in these specific situations.
Please note – we teach “door manners”, as in, dog waits at the front door until told to go through, as a safety measure – it can stop a dog getting run over.
Much worse,techniques such as pinning the dog to the floor,grabbing jowls, blasting hooters and throwing things will make dogs anxious,often about their owner,and potentially lead to an escalation of aggression.
Dr Rachel Casey,Senior Lecturer in Companion Animal Behaviour and Welfare, said “The blanket assumption that every dog is motivated by some inane desire to control people and other dogs is frankly ridiculous.It hugely underestimates the complex communicative and learning abilities of dogs.It also leads to the use of coercive training techniques,which compromise welfare,and actually cause problem behaviours”.
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