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Dominance Debunked: Stop Pinning Your Dog

It may go without saying, but dominance in dog training has been debunked. The science just doesn't support it. Whenever you use pain or fear to train or intimidate your dog, the results will be bad. Your dog may end up showing you some obedience behaviors, but deep down they will be hiding a boatload of insecurities which can later manifest into problem behaviors. 

These problem behaviors may include, but are not limited to: submissive peeing, shyness, generalized anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, hyperactivity, hyper-friendliness, appeasement behaviors, and then there's just flat-out aggression. Using dominance techniques with your dog doesn't show them "who's boss," it puts them in a state of fight/flight/freeze due to the nervous system sensing a threat to their survival.  

If you'd like to read more about how the science has evolved, you can read this article: Alpha Status, Dominance, and Division of Labor in Wolf Packs by L. David Mech. Originally, the idea of an "alpha" dog was derived from studies of captive wolves. Early on in the article, Mech explains: 

Attempting to apply information about the behavior of assemblages of unrelated captive wolves to the familial structure of natural packs has resulted in considerable confusion. Such an approach is analogous to trying to draw inferences about human family dynamics by studying humans in refugee camps.


A pack of wolves in actuality is a close-knit family, living in harmony by organizing around a common cause: hunting prey for survival. Animals that rely on each other to hunt in groups have a particularly high emotional capacity, which is why our domesticated dogs are so adept at living in captivity with us.

Please remember that your dog is a sensitive and emotional being and you don't need to use force or scare tactics in order to train him. I'm not against having rules and boundaries, or using sharp verbal corrections. But physical force is not only unnecessary, it's detrimental to your relationship with your dog. 

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Photo by Jingyu Wu on Unsplash

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