Did you know?
Dogs are not pack animals
Scientific studies have shown that domesticated dogs are not pack animals. Dogs are certainly descended from wolves, but have domesticated over thousands of years. Free-ranging domesticated dogs do not hunt together in packs, do not form social groups, and tend to only gather if there is an available food source.
As a result, using dominance and "leader of the pack" style methods to train dogs just doesn't make sense and can actually cause significant emotional side effects that can take years to overcome.
The Basics of Training
Training dogs is simple:
1. Reinforce desirable behaviors
2. Remove rewards for and prevent opportunities for undesirable behaviors
We expect a lot out of our dogs on a daily basis. Many dogs were bred to work - hunt, shepherd, guard, etc - and are being asked to wait at home all day while we work. They are expected to walk in straight lines with their heads up away from the ground. Using things the dog likes (food, toys, play), we can motivate our dogs to cooperate with us and we can fulfill their canine needs at the same time. This is the basis of positive, reinforcement-based training.
Reinforcement vs. Punishment
Reinforcement based training identifies the cause of the undesirable behavior, modifies the environment, and changes the dog's motivation. The dog is properly guided, relieved of pent up stress and anxiety, and rewarded for correct choices.
Force-based, punishment techniques such as leash jerks, prong/shock/choke collars, alpha rolls, etc. not only cause pain and discomfort, but also only suppress behavior and don't eliminate the cause of it. The dog then stores up energy and frustration. As a result, these techniques can actually inhibit learning and even have serious, long lasting side effects such as depression, self-mutilation, increased aggression, and aggression towards the punisher.