Why Explore Types of Dominance with Dog Handling?

Thank you, Brad, and to everyone for the wonderful comments.  Wonderful exploration.  You all help me clarify several goals and hopes from this discussion.

First, I hope we will honor each person’s choice for how they wish to address this challenging concept of dominance.  Brad, your suggestions for other types of words such as respect and seniority are great.  Yes indeed use them!   (Can we practice as much compassion and respect for each other as we can towards our animals?)

Visit my website for more philosophy and discussion.

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Is Dominance Always Bad?

I am seeing a lot of  blogs about how how horrible dominance is and how there is no need for dominance when working with domestic dogs.   They say the use of dominance is now considered ineffective and, worse, it is unethical and inhumane.    Those critical of using any forms of dominance are describing what wolves and feral dogs do and do not do and I am seeing so many incorrect statements.

I work with wild and captive wolves, and have handled over 2,000 feral dogs.  I was also the Project Veterinarian for the 1995-96 Yellowstone Wolf Reintroduction program and had the privilege of working with Dr. Dave Mech, one of the founders of wolf research, when we captured wolves in Canada and brought them into the US.  Many people condemning dominance are referring to Dave’s comments . Continue reading

Is This an Aggressive Wolf? – A Double Standard in How We View Aggressive Dogs – Part 1

Forcing a wolf to leave a transport crate

In 1995-96, I was honored to be the Project Veterinarian for the  Gray Wolf Reintroduction Program.   Over a two-year period we captured wolves in Canada and relocated 66 wolves into Yellowstone Park and central Idaho.  It was awesome having touched and handled every one of those wolves.  I have since handled hundreds of captive and free-ranging wolves and they continuously teach me how to work with feral dogs.  They have also taught me how to understand dogs. (You can handle wolves with me in my courses at California Wolf Center every January and at Wolf Haven International every November.  See my Seminar Schedule.)

During the wolf reintroduction, wolves were transported in crates I had specially designed.  Both ends could open to facilitate releasing each wolf.  There is a photograph from one of the releases that always seems to surprise me (I was not there at the time.)  The biologists had opened both ends of a crate and were trying to get the wolf to run out by threatening it with a snare pole.  The wolf was quite displeased, snarling with glaring white teeth and was quite intimidating. Continue reading

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