Moving Beyond the Dominance Myth: Toward an Understanding of Training as Partnership

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Dog trainers have commonly accepted a model of training based on a supposed emulation of the behaviors of wolves, particularly Alpha wolves. Central to this model is the notion of “dominance”. This model is conceptually flawed in that it rests on some serious misconceptions about wolf behavior as well as serious misconceptions about the interactions between dogs and humans. As a separate species from dogs, humans cannot emulate intraspecific behaviors and expect those behaviors to be interpreted other than as aggression. A more accurate and ultimately more productive training model is to approach training from the point of view of symbiosis: interspecific cooperation based on some form of mutual benefit.

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