Donaldson and Dunbar Take On Dominance (and Dog Whisperers)

If you’re sick of hearing ccchhhhhtttttt, you’ll be happy to know that Dogwise is offering this DVD by Ian Dunbar and Jean Donaldson. If you haven’t seen it, it’s well worth viewing.

Here’s the blurb and link from Dogwise:

Many trainers today find themselves facing questions and comments from clients like “Why don’t you do it the way that guy on TV does it? I think my dog is being dominant and he needs to be shown who is boss.” While it is probably a good thing that so many people are interested in dog behavior that TV programs on the subject are increasingly popular, it is not such a good thing when the information presented is not based on sound methods or attempt to over-simplify what are often very complex behavioral problems.

So with this in mind, our friends at dogTec have teamed up with Jean Donaldson and Ian Dunbar to produce a 4 hours seminar DVD entitled Fighting Dominance in a Dog Whispering World to address just this very issue. So how do you respond to clients who ask the above question? How do you deal with the dominance issue which is often used to explain everything about dogs when in fact from a scientific perspective researchers know very little about it. Must viewing for any dog trainer or behaviorist who is wrestling with such issues in their business.

4 thoughts on “Donaldson and Dunbar Take On Dominance (and Dog Whisperers)”

  1. Let’s compare apples to apples ladies. One gentleman is a trainer and the other a behaviourist.

    GOT IT?

    Doug, thanks for stopping by.  But, FYI, Cesar would have to work another couple of decades to have close to the amount of dog training under his belt that either Donaldson or Dunbar has.

  2. Dealing with animal behavior, specifically a dog’s behavior, cannot be reduced to a simple formula. It’s what makes people like Cesar unique. Although he seems to focus a lot on dominance, in reality it’s much more than that.

    He does a lot of re-structuring and implicit in this is the fact that together the owner, the dog and it’s environment form a system that affects everyone. Whether he realizes it or not, a great deal of what he does has more in common with family therapy than anything else.

    Dominance is only a very small part of the story.

  3. Thanks for the heads-up.

    Generally I only get dog whisperer-oriented questions during my first session. In those cases, people have tried Cesar’s methods themselves (with only occasional success) – so we talk a little bit about Cesar being “made for TV”, and how there’s probably
    a) a lot of techniques you don’t see in the edited TV show and
    b) how there are probably dogs with whom he wasn’t that successful that you never see.

    The most important thing to point out is how people are so focused on the methods that they lose touch with what’s going on with their dog. I think the whole “Is my dog being dominant?” question tends to blind people to the real dynamic at work anyway.

    So I try not to spend too much time on Cesar, period. The Natural Dog Training perspective of dogs seeing their world through the lense of predator/prey is so different (and removed from the whole dominant/submissive paradigm) that our conversation quickly evolves into trying to figure out what our dogs are really feeling in a given situation, and how that feeling has translated into the given response (whether it was desirable or undesirable). And being the alpha dog is replaced with trying to “be the moose” in your dog’s life. That analogy works better (for me).

    Finally I also kindly request that clients just try to tune in with themselves (and their dog) to find a method that gets results and feels right to them (on a gut level), whatever that method happens to be. That’s what will end up bringing them the most success in their relationship with their dogs. Clearly that’s what Cesar has done (for himself).

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