This post contains a link to a fascinating but  very long article. It  clarifies confused nomenclature pertaining to words and phrases like “dominance”, “fixed hierarchy” and “alpha”.

Roger Abrantes removes the moral/ethic values by applying pure logic to the emotionally laden and diametrically opposed view points in the dog training world.

I have just recently “discovered” Roger Abrantes, so he is highly featured in this weeks’ posts.

To me this was very enlightening since I am such an emotionally driven person.


Here is an important excerpt if you cannot read the whole thing:

Wikipedia writes: “Dominance (ethology) can be defined as an ‘individual’s preferential access to resources over another’ (Bland 2002). Dominance in the context of biology and anthropology is the state of having high social status relative to one or more other individuals, who react submissively to dominant individuals. This enables the dominant individual to obtain access to resources such as food or access to potential mates, at the expense of the submissive individual, without active aggression. The opposite of dominance is submissiveness. […] In animal societies, dominance is typically variable across time, […] across space […] or across resources. Even with these factors held constant, perfect dominant hierarchies are rarely found in groups of any size” (Rowell 1974 and Lorenz 1963).

It explains a dominance hierarchy as follows: “Individuals with greater hierarchical status tend to displace those ranked lower from access to space, to food and to mating opportunities. […] These hierarchies are not fixed and depend on any number of changing factors, among them are age, gender, body size, intelligence, and aggressiveness.”

The statements highlighted in red should be sent to all the people who throw around words like “alpha” and “dominant” without having a real idea what the words mean.

Elisabeth Weiss is a highly certified, experienced dog trainer in Manhattan, NYC. To learn more about dog training services, contact us by phone at (917) 783-1473 or our contact form.

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