Monday, November 22, 2010

Enjoy your dog; don't dominate him!

Alright I've been putting this one off but it's time to write about the dreaded "dominance" myth that has been so prevalent in Western culture as of late. 

Dominance theory is largely based on bad science... that's right folks it's not true! I'll give you a source before I carry on: Dr. Sophia Yin explains this very well with videos to boot!

Yet everyday I see people doing things to their dogs that are not only unnecessary but potentially damaging. 

For example you take your lovely, friendly, four legged best friend to the dog park. He/she is happily playing and acting appropriately. Yet some owners feel the need to roll their dog or put them in a long stay for no real understandable reason other than control. This could actually hurt your dog's confidence.

There's no reason not to have solid obedience skills and rules but don't be a tyrant. Dogs want a calm, happy family not an owner with Napoleon syndrome. You can have a well behaved dog without acting that way I promise! 

Positive reinforcement training includes setting rules for your dog to live by. For example if you choose to let your dog on the couch then that's fine. Your family has decided dogs on furniture is alright. If you choose not to then that's fine too... just make sure you consistently enforce that rule and that all family members are following through. Rules are crucial to good pet ownership and training. Just make sure the rules are fair. 

Remember there's always another way than violence. If you're frustrated or upset with your dog chances are you didn't teach them the proper skills yet or haven't been consistent with your rules. Contact a dog friendly trainer in your area to help turn things around. 

Here's Marco in a down position while I listen to the class instructions during our Rally Novice class. Instead of having a dog that barks, jumps up or is generally annoying I just taught him to hang out. Great skill to have in any situation. (And did I mention he's off leash in a room full of dogs here?). 

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