Dominance is a very common label used to describe behaviour in most species. However it has a circular explanation, meaning that if you where to tell me that your dog is dominant and I would ask you why? You would say for example that he is dominant because he jumps on me. I would ask why does he jump on you? You would then reply because he is dominant.

My perception of the word dominant could have a complete different meaning to me then to what you think of it. It does not help us with the training issue at hand -the dog is jumping on you.

Instead I would ask you what happened right before your dog jumped on you? You then reply; well I walked in through the door. Now that is something that helps us understand the behaviour of the dog. Remember the jumping serves a purpose to the dog so we need to replace that behaviour with something that has value to the dog. So instead of labeling the behaviour we would start focusing on behaviours that we do want, like a sit. Now the sit does not have the same value to the dog as greeting you by jumping up, but if you positively reinforce your dog while he sits you will start to change the behaviour and add value to the sit for your dog which increases the wanted behaviour.

People often say that the dog IS dominant or aggressive which tells us really nothing. Instead we should be saying what the dog DOES which describes what is happening giving us an indication of what to do next, also what is likely to happen next.

This would be another example: The dog IS aggressive, NO the dog is growling and bearing teeth so he is likely to bite next.

Sometimes a dog can show these behaviours and be scared so would scared and aggressive then be the same? So be careful to label things that your dog does as it really boils down to a training issue and focusing on behaviours that you do want instead of those that you don't want.

Workshop-19 November on Face Book

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