Why we choose ethical and force free
CULTIVATING MEANINGFUL CONNECTIONS WITH OUR DOGS
Myths about "alpha dog" and "pack leader"
- These terms are rooted in outdated science and misconceptions.
Are dogs just wolves?
- Dogs evolved symbiotically with humans, while wolves adapted to a wild existence.
But wolves have alpha wolves, don't they?
- The alpha wolf narrative doesn't hold; wild wolf packs operate more like families, with alpha pairs assuming parental roles rather than asserting dominance through aggression.
Domestic dog "packs"
- Domestic dogs don't naturally form structured packs, dispelling the concept of an alpha dog or pack leader.
"But dogs are dominant"
- Behaviours labeled as 'dominant' often stem from fear, stress, or anxiety.
- Aggression is then a coping mechanism, not an assertion of dominance.
"We need to punish that behaviour out of the dog"
- Attempts to address fear/stress/anxiety based behaviours through punishment are ineffective.
- Punishment heightens the dog's distress and just suppresses behaviour.
- Instead we can use positive/differential reinforcement to teach our dogs what we want them to do without fear or threat of intimidation.
Compassion and ethics
- Focus on becoming better guardians rather than aspiring to be pack leaders.
- Responsible guardians prioritise empathy and understanding.
- Recognise dogs' individuality, needs, and emotions for a harmonious bond based on mutual respect.
- Make the ethical choice not to use punishment methods when dealing with dogs.
- Using ethical methods helps improve the dog-human relationship by building trust and communication.
Aversive training tools
- Reject aversive tools like shock collars and choke chains.
- These tools have the potential to induce fear and stress in dogs.
- Aversive methods hinder trust development and lead to unintended behavioural consequences.
- Seek assistance from trainers using positive, reward-based methods.
- Choose trainers explicitly associated with ethical codes.
Find more detailed info on these topics in the Position Statements by the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior here.