A little off topic from my usual posts, but I was excited to read this position statement on dominance by the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior.
• Despite the fact that advances in behavior research have modified our understanding of social hierarchies in wolves, many animal trainers continue to base their training methods on outdated perceptions of dominance theory. (Refer to Myths About Dominance and Wolf Behavior as It Relates to Dogs)
• Dominance is defined as a relationship between individual animals that is established by force/aggression and submission, to determine who has priority access to multiple resources such as food, preferred resting spots, and mates (Bernstein 1981; Drews 1993). Most undesirable behaviors in our pets are not related to priority access to resources; rather, they are due to accidental rewarding of the undesirable behavior.
• The AVSAB recommends that veterinarians not refer clients to trainers or behavior consultants who coach and advocate dominance hierarchy theory and the subsequent confrontational training that follows from it.
• Instead, the AVSAB emphasizes that animal training, behavior prevention strategies, and behavior modification programs should follow the scientifically based guidelines of positive reinforcement, operant conditioning, classical conditioning, desensitization, and counter conditioning.
• The AVSAB recommends that veterinarians identify and refer clients only to trainers and behavior consultants who understand the principles of learning theory and who focus on reinforcing desirable behaviors and removing the reinforcement for undesirable behaviors.
Just like there are misconceptions and myths in regards to eating disorders, animal care has the same equivalent. It's one reason why so many animals are in shelters and/or euthanized. I hope with more awareness, education, and appropriate training, people will learn that there are better, more effective ways to have a well-mannered pet(s) and develop human-animal bonds.
In the end, all creatures, whether four-legged or two-legged deserve compassion and respect NOT domination.
Okay, and now back to regular scheduled programming....