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?)
Second, dominance is indeed a vague word like so many thousands of other words in the English language. I hope that this type of discussion helps us better understand our colleagues and and encourages us to strive to understand what the other people are saying. If we are rigid in our concept of dominance as mean (and we are commonly unaware of this), how can we believe someone who is compassionate saying they successfully and humanely use dominance as a valuable tool?
Jill, was awesome in pointing out that the way we express dominance is reflected in our body language around the dogs. So many dog handlers/trainers transform a dog just by entering the room. I see that with captive wolves and the street dogs I work with. Dogs feel/sense/recognize the body language and expressions of dominance, compassion, and threat.
And most of all, I hope this discussion makes us more comfortable using the word dominance and in recognizing how it is used by others. As you see, I think dominance can be a WONDERFUL thing and it truly enhances and strengthens relationships among one another.
Dominance is an essential tool for disaster responders pulling a dog out of the water or taking them from a collapsed building. Dominance is an absolute necessity when I am catching street dogs in India. Street dogs are very quick to challenge you. I do not want disaster responders and other dog handlers to feel afraid of applying, dominance. And if we realize there are forms such as “mean dominance” and “compassionate dominance” we will better know how to behave (how to be) when we are working with the dogs (or wolves).
When I am handling the street dogs, I am assuming at times that I am the first human being to touch that dog and I want them to know compassion from me. As soon as the dog settles, it will see that I am already settled and creating the most compassionate energy while still holding it and preventing it from escaping. I teach in my humane dog capture and handling courses that the crazier the dog gets, the calmer you should be.
Thank you all for sharing. I invite others to share your valuable insights as well.