Tough Love: A Meditation on Dominance & Dogs



  1. Apparently the people who put this video together, and several who were interviewed on it, are unaware that genetic analysis has led to the reclassification of the domestic dog as a wolf – the subspecies of wolf now scientifically recognized as Canis lupus familiaris.

    Other scientific research has shown that another Canis species could be domesticated within a human lifetime, through selecting only the calm and adaptable animals to breed.

    Documentation on these things are readily available.

  2. It sounds like the expert speaking at around 11:00 has never seen the many documentaries of wild wolves. Anyone with access to YouTube can watch and see just how 'sweet and polite' wolves are to each other, especially regarding boundaries, respect, and access to food.

    Thinking logically, there would be much less competition for food in a captive situation than in the wild. Adequate water and shelter are also provided. So there should be much less competition among captive wolves.

  3. Many of the people who have problems with their dogs are people who don't just have a dog as a family member, but treat the dog as though it is not the dog member of the family, but a human. Or 'higher' than the humans, as many households have rules, boundaries, and limitations for the human members of the family – but few or no rules that are enforced for the dogs.

    Whether we see dogs as almost a child in a dog suit, or a 'fur angel', this is just not fair to the dog. Dogs can be stressed by trying to fill a role in a family of being something they are not – a child substitute, or even a spouse substitute. If we really love our dogs, won't we love our dogs AS dogs?

  4. Positive only people leave out the part of the video where Skinner talks about coercing to avoid unwanted behaviors. Guess what, it is not only necessary to use correction in dog training, it is humane, because it keeps dogs out of shelters and euthanizing clinics. Every single positive only person I have worked with has had trick dogs, but they couldn't be around most people or dogs. It's absurd, and it's dangerous, and it is all under the guise of being "positive". If you train your dogs properly with praise and with games, and use the word "no" as a corrector tool, you won't have to worry about getting upset with your dog, and can have your dog in almost any situation which is as fun, and as positive as it gets. Eat shit positive only people, you aren't helping, you are hurting the cause. People who hit their dogs should be in prison, that's not what this is about, and that is all this video really says about it. Oh, and screw Ceaser Millan, he is not a dog trainer, dog whispering is just about as big of a farce as positive only. Okay I think that is all.

  5. Caesar employs flooding techiques which can make the issue worse, and what airs on TV is of course edited. The first precept is to understand that you don't need to dominate a dog to communicate and direct it. What the dog is trying to commicate can be missed and negative states of engagement reinforced because of this. Teamwork does not neccesitate a leader but cooperation and clarification.

  6. Science has already proven that positive reinforcement is better than negative reinforcement will ever be, it doesn't matter what species– dog, horse, lion, human. It's sad that this even has to be debated upon. People need to open their eyes already. Cesar's training was based on techniques BEFORE science stepped in and said, "No, you're doing it completely wrong."

  7. I hate the alpha BS and I love how this video shows better and a lot more humane dog training techniques that inflicts no pain,and debunks the alpha bull crap.It also explains how wolves do not have alphas in the wild and how it definitely should not be applied to domestic dogs

  8. "If my dog wakes up and understand that I'm the boss, I'm the pack leader, he knows that HIS life is in order".
    All dog owners / dog parents should practice THIS!!! It's about helping your dog stay sane, not about you avoiding feeling uncomfortable.

  9. What about an "invisible fence" for the yard? That is clearly punishment/negative reinforcement for behavior – don't go beyond this point or you might get hit and killed or worse by a car going past on the street.

  10. I'm studying to be a veterinarian and everything we've learned so far about the topic correlates well to this video. It's a shame that the comments on this video are so diverse. Consider, negative reinforcement has indeed been scientifically proven not to deliver the same lasting results as positive reinforcement!

    Being dominant has nothing to do with training a dog or any animal for that part. Yes, It is very important to stay confident and assured when training or handling any animal but confidence and dominance are two different things. It’s important to differentiate between the two! A healthy, balanced animal will never instantly result to aggression, unless it's for self-defense. If we, as dominant trainers, instantly respond aggressively to something our dog/ or whatever animal does, the animals first understanding to this aggressiveness will always be: self-defense! Which sets off the 'fight' or 'flight' reaction. Notice that 'do what you mean' is nowhere in those options.

    The animal will not take that effort to 'think' about the trigger that set you off, and understand what you meant and "forgive" you for the stress, or look up to you because you ‘won’ or ‘were right’. This is simply because animals don't think like humans. Animals react. There are universal set ways of reaction: called instincts. An animals reaction to a bad situation, again, is: stress, (nor)adrenaline release in the brain, and initiating of the fight or flight response. An animals basic reaction to something good: dopamine release in the brain, resulting in a general good feeling (even associated to addiction!). That is simply science, it is the way nature is, it is constant. All animals also have varying degrees of memory, so that is also to be incorporated.

    We, humans, as a greatly evolved 'thinking' species, with our massive brain capacities, can (sometimes ;)) act beyond our instinctual reactions and actually THINK about the triggers that lead to these reactions. We know the basic 'goods' and 'bads' (ex: food/comfort, pain/stress) so we use them in training. It is our job to guide animals to a correct association of human interactions.

    Since more good experiences equals happier animals in general (just like us humans!), we should all just strive to use good triggers instead of bad ones to get an animal to do something.
    Being dominant, thus evoking a stress reaction, is a quick and easy way of training that might work.
    Being rewarding, whenever your animal does something right, and whenever it for chooses NOT to engage in bad behavior, might not be easy and time consuming, but will lead to more lasting effects (science!), more trust and happier animals, and don't we all want that?
    Like everything in life, it's the more difficult approach that makes it worth while. It's up to us if we decide to be selfish or not.

  11. I'm slightly bothered by videos like this because it's not reality:(
    The positive training community which I'm not against but you seemed to only show happy low level bad behavior zones.
    I would challenge your techniques on red zone cases that I deal with.

    this video is so warm and fuzzy and it gives me a sick feeling inside. I am hands on everyday with dogs that simply cannot be positive trained period!!!!
    I do not agree with the description this video gave of dominance alpha training by making it seem like they all ring them up and choke them. Wrong!!!
    I believe if you are a real trainer the results won't lie! Being a positive alpha is the key to success;)

  12. lets face it, we are still the boss. We are just becoming a kinder boss. We still hold the leash, tell them when they can eat, tell them where they can sleep, etc.
    We have to have clear commands and trade out unwanted behavior for preferred behavior. But there are times when you have to be the brick wall..

  13. Another hit piece for emotional crying women that anthropomorphize their dogs.

    "Traditional" dog training used positive reinforcement too, in the form of praise, and the only difference between "modern" positive reinforcement and traditional training is the fact that traditional trainers actually demanded that the dog obey, they didn't ask.

    There's a difference between "trick" behaviors that have no consequence, and self rewarding behaviors that can be dangerous to the dog, and people alike, and if rewards have a lower value than those behaviors, than punishment must be used to prevent them.

    Funny how they never mention that whales and dolphins that didn't respond to fish rewards were kept in solitary confinement and starved until the cooperated, but I guess that doesn't sell as many books. Makes me wonder how many of the "positive only preachers" are doing the same to their dogs…

  14. Almost everything the lady says is clearly flawed. In nature Wolves are parents and their children? You're on crack. That is absolutely not true. Lonewolves join random packs all the time. These ladies need to get off their feelings and use their brains.

  15. I have just viewed this video and value all the content, particularly the great differences between the Alpha principal and Positive Reinforcement. As well, it is important for everyone to be aware of the differences between wild wolf behaviour and domestic dogs. Yes, dogs have descended from wolves, but they don't occupy the same niche and have been modified over many years…to be domestically minded. Thank you.

  16. a medical doctor (vet) who had to go such long way to understand BASIC  canine pack- structure 101 and made a video out of it is…………priceless. one dimensional book worm:-)

  17. I think it's inaccurate and unfair to have clips of what looks like Ceasor Milan torturing dogs as an illustration of cruelty. The stories that follow in which dogs are "helicoptored" and  then clamped between the knees and beaten are thing Ceasar Milan would never do.  Viewers of this documentary might not realize that Milan is not primarily a trainer, that's not his goal; he describes himself as a rehabilitator, which, in some cases has to happen before the dog is trainable. He works with dogs that are so aggressive, they are in danger of being put down and with owners that are unwittingly surrendering to and reinforcing these behaviors. So I think it would be a clearer picture if one considers this framework in evaluating his techniques. I apreciate the view, for the most part expressed in your doc, especially the discussions of dog behavior, which is facinating. The points about alphas, seems a bit like splitting hairs. I believe the concept has been around a long time, originating with animal behaviorists long before being applied to dogs. I'm not sure it matters if you believe your dog is challenging you because it's a primal vestage or because you may have inadverdantly rewarded him for it. It seems to me a bit of both, but either way, the positive reward system is an effective and humane way to shape behavior. Those techniques however won't help adult dogs with sever, persistent,  aggression toward humans and animals.

  18. I like this video every one in it said something that I think is right , I trained so many dogs in my life time I just wanted to say in all that time I never trained with food because like the women with the red hear said how far are you going to go with this kind of training ,what I,ve done is worked with some kind of toy off and on or just a pat on the head most of the dogs were puppy's , another thing when you talk about training your dog and when I talk about this it may not be the same thing because I don,t want a lot from my animal but what I do want takes a lot of time and work ,all I need is that he comes as soon as I call ,don,t go to far from me with out looking to see were I,m ,not to be told to sit when I stop , keep his eye,s on me when we walk together because all the things I teach him come,s with a hand sign so I can tell him things from far away like go left or right come stop lay sit it come,s in handy when you know your dog is going to be where you told him to stay even if he can,t see you or even if lots of people or dogs are around ,another thing that makes a really good dog that is being trained that you don,t work him to long, as he learns you work him less an less and then the play becomes learning as well , buy the way the dogs that I,ve trained were for protection that you could turn off or on at will or because the way the dog was trained if someone started to walk to you to hurt you the dog would see him coming before you did and the way this comes out in my dogs it,s just the love I give them and all the fun we have and all the things we do together I think a lot of the times people don,t know what the dog wants from them that would make him or her a really good dog if people wouldn,t allways do the same thing every time they go for a walk ,all I,m say-in is dogs love to feel like there working and if there not you got trouble , just one more thing to keep in mind at all times when you are training your dog this to me is the most important way to get what you want from your dog ,don,t yell or get mad know matter what your trying to teach because if you do the dog will not learn what you were trying to teach he may do something out of fear but not what you wanted there must be know fear on the dogs part don,t try to make him do something if you do it will hurt his spirit and he may never be the came again

  19. Personally I think this debate will go on and on just like on the topic of religion, abortion, gay marriage etc etc. However I would like to put in my two cents worth, without trying to convince anyone whatsoever. Just some background information: over the years I have rescued over 150 animals from the streets of Santiago, Chile, mainly dogs and rehomed the majority of them. I live with 17 dogs and that means they are part of the family, I don't have kennels, I live on an acre of fenced land, my dogs get a lot of exercise, they're raw fed, see the vet when necessary, are all spayed and neutered except one big male. I don't live in a pig sty and I'm not a dog hoarder, my dogs are all healthy, happy and well cared for. Living with so many dogs has taught me a lot about canine behaviour and what I don't see is set hierarchical dominant/submissive behaviour. I see dogs that respect each other's space, I see so called "alpha" dogs that chose not to fight but to just move away, I see dogs that drop into a submissive belly roll instead of an alpha dog throwing the submissive dog on its back as they say and that belly up position is done with minimum aggression, It's the way they avoid a fight. I also got caught up in the dominance training theory in the past and personally I have come to believe that its faster, easier and more rewarding to train positively. The relationship you develop with your dog is much deeper and the dog is more relaxed. I live with all these dogs and I have no issue with "dominance" whatsoever, I've never had a dog try to bite me, they all listen to what I want them to do, they sleep on the couch or the bed if they want and they get off when I want them too, they all listen without me having to bribe them with food although initially I will train with food and quickly move over to life rewards when they learn the word. So for what its worth, I think that old dominance theory is bunk and positive training is the way to go.

  20. So what do you do when a aggressive dog is biting another dog or person? Just let it do it till it stops and calms down, then give it a treat?  What do you do when a dog is not food motivated?  How do you deal with a dog who is possessive over food and attacks?

  21. I should mention that whenever someone tried to explain dominance theory to me, they NEVER ONCE suggested that I use pain reinforcement or hitting the dog to get it to comply. They said I needed to be its leader. I needed the dog to be confident enough in my judgement to do what I say. I was told that a dog acts dominant over its owner when it believes that the owner (or pack leader) is not competent in its eyes and it does so as a survival instinct. They suggested various methods of showing the dog who's boss, like refusing to pet him or play with him unless it was on your terms. They suggested always preceding your dog through the door. They suggested always eating before the dog. And they suggested making the dog understand that you are the source of the food. But they never said to hit the dog or hang the dog or do any of that ridiculous stuff.  I don't know what dog training school the woman at the beginning of the video went to that actually told her to hang her dog, but what they were telling you to do was not dominance theory.