When discussing dominance it is important to remember that dogs aren't people. They are a foreign species. When we try to associate human motivations to dog behaviors things get far more emotional and complicated than needed. Dogs simply need to know that someone is in charge. There are lots of different opinions on how to 'lead' a dog. We've included a list of our favorite articles.
History and Misconceptions of Dominance Theory by Melissa Alexander and Ian Dunbar Essentially Melissa's article explains the origins of the idea that humans have to physically dominate (bite, alpha roll etc.) their dogs in order to prove dominance or pack leadership. Researchers have now established that a true alpha doesn't use physical dominance but controls resources and pack dynamics through psychological exercises. My parents-in-law have a fantastic, family friendly alpha dog who has been a great teacher for our puppies. I will never forget seeing her alpha status in effect one day as a puppy tried to steal her bone. Mosey raised an eyebrow and looked intently at the puppy who then lowered to her tummy and backed away. Not a single bark or growl and never a physical altercation. In the dog world only the middle and lower ranked dogs interact physically. When we use physical force to control our dogs we are essentially lowering our "pack" status rather than raising it.
So then what do we do to be the leaders that our dogs need in order to co-exist happily and safely with humans? Here are some of our favorite articles: