Dr. Nichol’s Blog – AVSAB Position Statement on the Use of Dominance Theory in Behavior Modification of Animals


This concept would seem to make sense in driving down behaviors we don’t want but it is a truly rare dog who tries to dominate its human leader. In our relationships with our pets, competition for resources (the reason for dominance relationships in a canine social group) is not the issue. While our dogs don’t really challenge us they can certainly get confused.

There are sound methods for recognizing the true cause of unhealthy behaviors in pets and for bringing out their best. Leadership should be attained by positive means – rewarding appropriate behaviors and using desired resources as immediate reinforcers for these behaviors.

Download the full position statement here.