If there is ONE idea I’d love to eliminate from dog owner’s brains, it is the notion of dominance. The idea that our dogs are in some never ending game of one-upsmanship with us. Seeking to increase their rank. Along with this idea and related to it, is the notion of the pack. Both dominance and pack are what I call ‘sticky’ ideas. They stick in people’s brains. Sadly, they’ve also been promoted by some trainers.
Here’s the reality. Dogs aren’t rank seekers. And even if they were, they wouldn’t seek compete for rank with us as we are NOT perceived by our dogs as dogs. Much of the training that is based on dominance and pack theories is at best not helpful and can lead to some significant behavioural fall out. I’ve seen more than one dog go from being a happy meal time eater to acting like a rabid badger during meals BECAUSE the well intentioned owner used a suggested training method to ‘establish your alpha status’ and ended up with a problem behaviour.
I encourage folks to read this very good article on dominance and rank in domestic dogs. The biggest and most reputable veterinary/trainer/behaviour consulting organizations do not support the notion of dominance as an issue in the human-dog relationship.