Dog Care/Training/Obedience

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Dominance training is a controversial method of training dogs. While it has many proponents, it is often considered outdated and potentially harmful by many dog behaviorists and trainers. It is a theory that believes that the key to a well behaved dog is to be in charge of them, and not the other way around. The practice tries to emulate the way another dog would do it, mostly through body language -- not speech as most people use. Dogs rarely bark at each other to show dominance, they bark when excited, afraid, or angry. But the way we control dogs is primarily by "barking" orders to them using complex language, which they don't understand as readily and therefore don't accept our dominance as readily. Those who practice dominance training think using mostly body language is a much more direct and native language for dogs to understand.

Dominance training theory holds that dominance training should be done on all dogs, regardless of their breed because it can be used to treat all kinds of behavior problems. Those who oppose dominance training theory hold that dominance tactics are often harmful, that dominance tactics can make an aggressive dog more aggressive and a fearful dog more fearful, and that other techniques have been shown to be more effective for basic training in any dog, for correcting bad behavior in any dog, and for rehabilitating problem dogs.

The following is a list of methods or desired behaviors embraced by dominance theory proponents, some of which are considered effective and some of which are considered harmful under other theories of dog behavior and training:

  • have them allow you to take food or toys away from them; you give them back, but they should accept your taking them and not growl
  • you should walk through doors first
  • you should always eat before your dog; let them smell that you are eating, but do not share (do not tease either of course)
  • you can nuzzle your dog's nose, head, neck, body, in almost grooming motions, much like a parent dog would do to their puppy to clean them
  • you can kiss your dog all over
  • petting your dog on the top of their head (they generally don't like that)
  • playing with and gently pulling your dogs ears
  • playing with their feet
  • when your dog is standing or sitting, put your hand over your dog's paw so you are standing on it (but not putting pressure on it of course, just the act of covering it)
  • when your dog is standing on all fours, stand behind your dog with your hands on their hips, and your legs against the back of their legs; when they accept that, then add a repeating knee bend, vaguely simulating the motion that another dog who mounted this dog would be doing
  • gently bite your dog's neck, arms, and legs
  • nibble on your dogs fur as if a parent dog picking out bugs or ticks; watch your dog nibble on their own fur to observe the motion
  • open your mouth wide and put it over the top of your dog's lengthwise (not front on) nose (again, just like another dog would)
  • when your dog is standing, stand to the side of your dog, kneel down, and grab the bottom of the further two legs away from you and pull them towards you; the dog will gently tip over and be forced to lay down in a submissive position; continue to hold the front and back legs that you grabbed; make sure it is a soft surface like grass or carpet so the dog does not get hurt when falling, and perform gently
  • put your dog belly up and sit on them straddled; their back legs should be behind you, not under or in front of you, and you should not allow them to kick you
  • when straddling your dog, expose their neck fully. to do this, tip the bottom of their mouth up so that their forehead is pressing against the floor and their entire neck is exposed and stretched out and available to you, facing up; they should hold that position
  • growl at your dog, especially if they approach you while you are eating or beg (dominant dogs will not let other dogs get too close to them when they are eating)
  • use a gentle leader leash, which simulates another dog putting their mouth over your dog's mouth
  • put your hand(s) over the top of your dog's mouth like a muzzle