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Old March 14th, 2011, 03:06 PM
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millitntanimist millitntanimist is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Kitchener, ON
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I have 2 problems with the "dominance" philosophy. The first (and really the most important) is that it is based on some terrible and outdated science. The second is that it can be the vehicle for some very harsh P+ because the only solution to a "dominant" dog not responding to your "dominance" is an escalation of your punishment (I am speaking generally here, I know that there are some trainers for whom this is absolutely not the case, but in my experience they are few and far between).

I also find it uncomfortable that a large number of people who have no knowledge of dog behavior or learning theory seem to grab onto it because it is such a simple concept to digest and it puts the reader in a "natural" place of superiority.

This concept of "dominance" actually has very little to do with dogs, but rather, is a natural byproduct of our colonialist heritage. Imposing a social hierarchy and working desperately to maintain our position at the top of said hierarchy (which is always in danger of being toppled) is nothing new.

I am reading a great book ("At Home, A History of Private Life) that contains excerpts from some hard-line etiquette books published in the 1800's. The chapters regarding one's behavior towards servants and slaves (and in some cases, women) read frighteningly like many manuals on dog training, stating things like "they crave your natural leadership," and that "you must always show your superiority (usually through punishment or the excision of your privileges flagrantly in their presence) or your servant/slave will attempt to take power and overthrow you." There are excerpts discussing a servant's/slave's inherent "wildness" and as such they must be treated more harshly to keep them subdued. There are even sections on what position your servant/slave should take walking with you in public and such warnings as "if they will hold your gaze for more than a moment they are showing their defiance," thus you must re-assert your dominance.

As a student of history, I am always amazed by our inability to develop new ideas, and at our utter ignorance in thinking that we have
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