Thursday, 13 August 2009

More evidence that the 'dominance' theory of canine behaviour is flawed

The University of Bristol has also weighed in with further evidence that a dog's desire to be dominant is not the main factor behind canine aggression.

Researchers from the university spent six months studying dogs at a Dogs Trust Centre, and used their findings to reanalyse earlier studies carried out on feral dogs. It was concluded that relationships between dogs are built through the experiences that individuals are exposed to rather than being motivated by an overriding desire to assert dominance or be the 'pack leader'.

Furthermore it has been suggested that training aimed at reducing dominant/aggressive behaviour could actually exacerbate the situation. Owners who continue to assert their 'pack leader' status over their dog are effectively bullying and intimidating the animal. Any submission seen will be restricted to very limited circumstances and will be the result of the dog coming to expect/fear punishment/chastisement. Ultimately this can cause dogs to become more aggressive, particularly when combined with physical abuse such as hitting and kicking.

As 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".

So if you have an ASBO pup look to see what you've been doing to your dog, chances are your actions are the root cause of the problem.

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