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?)

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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