How many times have you been told that you should be the pack leader, that your dog is a pack animal, and will only listen to the alpha of the pack?
If you know me, then you know I don't beat around the bush, and that I don't like to mince my words. In my opinion, this needs to be said, and a bit louder for the people in the back:
This pack leader theory a load of bullshit!
Why am I writing this article? Well, there is a new Netflix show called 'Canine Intervention' where words like pack leader and top dog are heavily used. Along with some other outdated ideas and training techniques. And I am done with this shit!
Basically, the terminology (alpha etc) was first used by a guy called Rudolf Schenkel in 1947. His research was based on the behaviour of captive grey wolves. And in the 1970's, researcher David Merch popularized this idea. However, he totally backtracked in 1999, saying that the old theory was based on INCOMPLETE data. He explained that the theory was heavily based on the behaviour of captive packs of unrelated individuals.
Here it comes from the man himself:
You might say, yes, but aren't dogs descendants from wolves? Think about it for a second...
While both species share the same number of chromosomes and are capable of breeding, it is estimated that dogs separated from the wolves about 100,000 years ago. The man who coined the phrase 'alpha', as said in the video above, confirms that he was wrong.
Therefore, I have to ask myself the question, why are dog owners still being told that dogs enter our homes with the sole purpose of dominating their owners?
Why are people still being told that you need to walk through the door opening first, you need to eat first, dogs aren't allowed cuddles because then they think they're the boss, you need to use slip collars so you can give corrections, you need to pin your dog to the ground and make them submit to you... Are we really such barbarians??
Everyone and their gran has heard about Cesar Millan for example, and not a single one of his 'techniques' are based on mutual connection or relationship building. He is a bully who forces dogs to submit to himself.
It makes me sick to my stomach to think about the dog owners who love their dogs dearly, but treat them in such a brutish way.
There must be a better, kinder and more gentle way forward, where we don't have to behave like raging cavemen.
Yes, dogs need guidance and boundaries and rules, just like we all do. But we don't have to train them in inhumane ways to get there. Just be kind, people... just be kind. Your dog is a living, breathing, feeling being, and deserves better than being shocked, dragged, pinched or pinned to the ground.
Find a good, ethical, positive dog trainer, who shows you what you and your dog can do, when you concentrate on building a connection and relationship based on trust, kindness and respect.
Peace out! Andi