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Life Arts    H2'ed 7/28/08

Power, Peace, and Puppies: Common Sense and Nonviolence

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Dogmatic Domination

 

In the realm of “aversive” training, the admonition is to “be dominant over your dog so he will submit to you.”  Aversive-based trainers say they are simply following the “alpha-male” and wolf dominance theories, in spite of the fact that those theories have been declared invalid by the experts. [20] In the Journal of Veterinary Behavior,[21] Angelica Steinker says that the “social dominance [theory] is being misused in relation to interpreting dog behavior … Labeling a dog ‘dominant’ is potentially destructive [and] can provoke a human to be aggressive with their dog. If the dog is aggressive, this can cause the aggression to escalate … [and] each party is reinforced negatively for their counter-controlling behavior,” which initiates the cycle of violence.

 

Steinker cites further studies debunking the results of the original research that spawned the alpha male/dominance theories.  That research was done with captive packs—not with wolves in the wild, who choose the members of their pack.  She goes on to discount the theories behind the “alpha roll” and muzzle grabbing, along with other domination and punitive techniques.

 


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Not only is the “dominator of the pack” theory based on faulty premises, but both wolves and monkeys in the wild have been known to banish a member that tries to dominate by brute force. [22] (Now those are some pretty smart animals. We need to elect some of them to Congress, and get them on the Judicial Committee, fast.)

 

Millan dismisses the opinions of these experts as just “intellectual knowledge,” saying, “It's the difference between going to school and the dogs being your school. One is the intellectual knowledge, the other one is instinctual. I am instinctual …”[23] 

 

While there is nothing wrong with genuine, healthy instincts, Millan admits that it is his “instinct” to physically force dogs (and one wonders, who and what, else) to submit to his domination. The use and the threat of force and domination are his credos. He espouses the leadership qualities of Fidel Castro because he believes that dogs would rather follow Castro than Gandhi. However, this has not been proven. One can only imagine what a dog would prefer when offered the choice between Castro’s choke collar and Gandhi’s doggie treats.

 

Outer Behaviors Mirror Our Deepest Selves

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Meryl Ann Butler is an artist, author, educator and OpedNews Managing Editor who has been actively engaged in utilizing the arts as stepping-stones toward joy-filled wellbeing since she was a hippie. She began writing for OpEdNews in Feb, 2004. She became a Senior Editor in August 2012 and Managing Editor in January, (more...)
 

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