Canine dominace: myths VS facts

Myth #1: Don’t let your dog walk in front of you. If your pet is walking ahead of you (and pulling the leash), he/she is dominating you.

Fact: Dogs can pull the leash for a variety of reasons: a wish to play, to explore, to communicate.

It can be learnt behavior that has been reinforced.

Your dog might be trying to avoid something scary.

Maybe you haven’t taught your pet to walk on a leash. It’s an issue of training, not dominance.

Myth #2: A tired dog = a good dog.

Fact: You should ensure enough physical activity for your pup.

However, activities should be fitted to your dog’s breed, age and health.

Physical activity won’t relieve boredom, won’t “cure” aggression or phobias. There are many examples of physically developed dogs that still struggle with aggression.

Myth #3: Enter the door before your dog.

Fact: A dog needs to be taught to go through doors when asked. A door is one human invention that is generally not too understandable for our dogs.

It’s a question of training and safety.

Myth #4: Eat before feeding your dog, this demonstrates your “pack leader” status.

Fact: Dogs are fed by humans, and they simply can’t eat before it happens. It doesn’t matter who’s eating first.

Myth #5: Don’t allow your dog to jump on your bed. If you let him/her climb higher, your own status in your dog’s eyes will lower.

Fact: Neither dogs, nor wolves use elevated surfaces to demonstrate their social status.

Only your preference matters: do you want your dog to sleep on your bed or couch? Is it safe? Would you be okay with it?

This is a personal decision and it doesn’t have anything to do with hierarchy.

Myth #6: When looking into your dog’s eyes, he/she should look away first.

Fact: Dogs demonstrate subordination or fear by looking away. Domestic dogs have learnt to look into their humans’ eyes, but it has nothing to do with aggressive intentions or dominance.

If it’s a soft, tender gaze, both the dog and the human will produce the attachment hormone – oxytocin.

Dogs can also be taught to look you in the face on command. Train your pet to do that in order to get his/her attention when needed.

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