Instead of asking ‘How dominant is this dog?’ we need to start asking ‘How trusting is this dog?’
You can’t google dog training without coming across abusive training techniques based on loose and outdated theories of dominance. What are we even talking about? Ask someone to describe what they mean by dominance and most people look at you like you have four heads. They throw the word alpha in there and submissive and pack… and blam… everyone references an unproven hypothesis as fact and now has license to use psychological and physical intimidation in the name of training.
This is where it gets dangerous. These dogs are typically the fearful and under socialized ones. Human hands don’t mean treats are coming and going in the crate turns to a bait and switch. These are the ones that are understimulated - learning that the only interesting thing that is going to happen in their day is barking at the dog on the other side of the fence or the mail man at the door. Rehearsing it over and over again - what starts as interest turns to frustration turns to aggression. In most cases these dogs are terrified and have learned what works to keep those things away.
It’s cathartic for people to use physical corrections and intimidation on a dog they can’t control. It’s an immediate release for us. Fear works. It works so well that you can punish out all warning signs your dog would normally give to let you know he is uncomfortable. Congratulations, you have now created an extremely dangerous and unpredictable dog.
Let’s give dogs a reason to trust us. We have to build it in them - not break it out of them. We all want the quick fix but like in any relationship that doesn’t exist. Trust comes from truth, repetition and time. We got time for that.
(Sorry for the rant… more light-hearted material to come!)