Dog Training: Animal Experts Debunk the Alpha-Dog Myth
Dogs are descended from wolves. Wolves live in hierarchical packs in which the aggressive alpha male rules over everyone else. Therefore, humans need to dominate their pet dogs to get them to behave.
This logic has dominated the canine-rearing conversation for more than five years, thanks mostly to National Geographic’s award-winning show, Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan.
But many experts say Millan’s philosophy is based on now-debunked animal studies and that some of his techniques – most famously the alpha roll, in which he pins a dog on its back and holds it by the throat – are downright cruel. Rival trainer Victoria Stilwell has launched a competitive assault on Dog Whisperer by starring on Animal Planet’s It’s Me or the Dog and by spreading her system of positive-reinforcement training virtually and with troops on the ground: this June she launched a podcast (available on positively.com and iTunes) and franchised her methods to a first batch of 20 dog trainers in the U.S., the U.K., Italy and Greece. She uses positivity as a counterpoint to dominance theory and reserves her aggression for the poorly behaving humans…. Read More