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I am my dog's "Cheerleader" not her "Pack Leader"

Updated: Oct 2, 2023

The first course I did that got me interested in science of animal behaviour and eventually to be one a dog behaviour trainer was a course done by Dr Brian Hare of Duke University called Dog Emotion and Cognition. (Highly recommend it to everyone who wants to learn more about how dogs evolved and evolution in general as it's not just about dogs.)

During this course he explained not only the science behind a dog’s brain and their emotions (other species are discussed in this course too) but also how they have evolved from wolves and why the dominance and alpha theory not only doesn’t apply to dogs, it also doesn’t apply to wolves either.

Dr Hare talks about how the "survival of the friendliest" became a thing for then wolves. The ones that we call dogs today.

When humans decided to stop moving around and settle in one spot some 12,000 years ago. That was when all of this started. Those humans started producing garbage (what we can do very well to this day), that for wolves was basically delicious food.

But for those wolves in order to access the human waste, they needed to be somewhat friendly, not aggressive nor fearful or they wouldn’t be able to get close to human villages enough to scavenge the low risk and high quality food.

Those wolves were trying to be friendly so they get easy access to food. This shows that humans didn’t domesticate dogs, it was the friendliest wolves who naturally domesticated themselves.

Now to this point we don’t see any of those early dogs trying to show humans who’s boss or dominate them do we? So why somehow now we are told this has changed? Well it hasn’t and there’s science to prove that.

Not only now dogs considered a whole new species but also in wolves life, there is no dominance going on either.

The study on wolves that started this whole dominance theory up was done on captive wolves, wolves that were strangers to each other and had to survive. Which now has been debunked by the scientist who’s done the study originally.

But hey he must know nothing compare to the so called trainer who’s only qualification in animal behaviour is “I grew up with dogs”

Wolves in their natural habitat, live as family unit, mum, dad and offspring.

Offspring naturally will obey their parents and parents has the same level of authority towards their offspring. No one is trying to dominate their kids or mother wolf, they move around with other family of wolves for support and security.

Non of these two species seem to try to dominate anyone from their own species let alone humans.

This post got longer than I expected so I leave it here but I highly recommend the course mentioned above or the book “the Genius of Dogs” written by Dr Hare and Dr Woods.


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