Debunking the Alpha Dog/Dominance Myth - that's right, we said MYTH!

"I have to dominate my dog, so I can show him who's boss and be the alpha over him" and "I am the 'pack leader' but obviously she still thinks she's the top alpha dog...that's why she doesn't listen, pees on the rug, chews my shoes, barks at other dogs and strangers" etc. are all things we hear every day. Despite the fact that the science of learning and behavior offers more sensible explanations, and that the notion of "alpha dog" has been completely and totally disproven over and over again by the scientific community for more than forty years(!), the alpha/dominance mindset in dog training and behavior continues to be a surprisingly popular, and deeply held belief.  Unfortunately, many dog loving people don't understand how outdated and flawed the concept is, and even more unfortunate is that some dog trainers don't either.

 

As a behavior and training resource committed to the science of dog behavior and learning, we are proud to stay true to our promise of providing you with the facts. We've been teaching science-based principles and training techniques for many years, but don't just take our word for it!  See below for a plethora of articles written by some of the worlds foremost canine behavioral experts, and see for yourself why the alpha/dominance mindset in dog training doesn't stand up to scientific scrutiny, can harm your relationship with your dog, and is nothing more than myth!

 

Best friends?

Debunking Dominance
By Karen Pryor

 

Science Daily: Using 'Dominance' to explain behavior is old hat:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090521112711.htm

 

https://andreaarden.com/dog-training/whatever-happened-to-the-term-alpha-dog/

 

Read the America Society of Animal Behavior’s position statement on the use of dominance theory for training:  https://avsab.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Dominance_Position_Statement-download.pdf

 

THE "ALPHA" MYTH - Debunking the Dominance Model of Dog Behavior
By Jean Donaldson

 

Beyond Cesar
Brings people together who challenge the concept of "pack leader", dominance theory, dog-as-wolf and other outdated ideas about our companion dogs

 

The Dominance Controversy and Cesar Millan
Learn more about what dominance means, then test your knowledge

 

WOOF's thoughts on the "Dog Whisperer"


Misconceptions of the Mythical Alpha Dog

By Dr. Ian Dunbar

 

The History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory
By Melissa Alexander, based on an interview with Dr. Ian Dunbar

 

Are Dogs Pack Animals?
By Jean Donaldson