Firstly, what does “Dominant” mean? Controlling, commanding, prevailing over all others, very important, powerful, successful. For years, the word “dominant” has been used to describe dog behaviour. It seems to be used as a nice tidy blanket term to diagnose a large number of behaviours or actions that are deemed to be undesirable to the human. Once a “dominant” diagnosis has been made, it can, in some cases, lead to justification for harsh, inappropriate, cruel, ignorant, dangerous, painful and confusing training techniques being practiced on the dog.
I really believe that dogs are wrongly diagnosed as dominant and that more needs to be done by professionals and owners to understand the true motivation for the unwanted behaviour. The only truly dominant behaviour seems to be practised by humans and unfortunately for animals and the planet no-one has come up with a dominance reduction plan for us!!
Who originally came up with this term “dominant”? It may have orginated with studies done on wolf packs which may not be hugely relevant when we are actually dealing with domesticated dogs who have undergone 10-15,000 years of selective breeding. Although dogs share many characteristics with wolves we will only really learn about domesticated dogs if we observe and learn about domesticated dogs.
The fact is that many dogs now live in social isolation from their own kind and their humans, often for long periods of time, which will obviously have a bearing on their behaviours.