Dominance in dogs: A comprehensive scientific compilation

Feature image: Canine Ethogram—Social and Agonistic Behavior, by Roger Abrantes

We have a world of knowledge to explore in our real and virtual life. However, sometimes, it is hard to find reliable evidence and facts about some subjects.

I believe there are a big misunderstanding and disinformation between an ethological definition of a species’ social behavior and a fairy tale used in dog training. Yes, the “dominance theory” belongs neither to ethology nor to any science. It was a popular pseudoscience theory created as justification for the use of coercive and violent techniques in dog training.

It is my conviction that we should use science models impartially, regardless of our moral beliefs.

Through defining terms and concepts, we become responsible professionals. We will know how to distinguish science from popular myths and allegories, and learn to respect each species. Different species communicate differently.

I have compiled a set of subject matters and research studies from authorities in animal behavior. I will update it regularly.

I expect that these articles will help you to create your educated opinion.

Give a little time to the reading of the following references. Build up a reliable scientific knowledge that will enable you to engage in meaningful discussions.


Recommended Reading

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Abrantes, R. (1997). The Evolution of Canine Social Behavior. Wakan Tanka Publishers.

Abrantes, R. (1997). Dog Language. Wakan Tanka Publishers

Coppinger, R. and Coppinger, L. (2001). Dogs: a Startling New Understanding of Canine Origin, Behavior and Evolution. Scribner.

Eaton, B. (2002). Dominance in Dogs: Fact or Fiction?. Dogwise.

Horowitz, A. (2014). Domestic Dog Cognition and Behavior, the Scientific Study of Canis familiaris. Springer- Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.

McFarland, D. (1998). Animal Behaviour. Benjamin Cummings. 3rd ed.

McFarland, D. (2006). A Dictionary of Animal Behaviour. Oxford University Press

Serpell, J. (2017). The Domestic Dog. Its Evolution, Behavior, and Interactions with People. Second Edition. Cambridge University Press.

Székely, T. (2010). Social Behaviour, Genes, Ecology, and Evolution. Cambridge University Press.

Watson, J.C., Arp, Robert. (2015). Critical Thinking—an introduction to reasoning well. Bloomsbury Academic.

Author’s note: Thanks to Dr. Roger Abrantes and his valuable feedback.

Last update: August 2020. Original title: “Dominance- a scientific view.”

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