I'm writing this post, because I keep seeing countless entries online from "force free" trainers referencing a study that claims that wolves do not have a hierarchical pack structure.
Unfortunately, this is being used to misguide people into believing that their dog (not a wolf) does not require leadership.
I'm referencing a study below that suggests that dogs have evolved to not only require, but to crave leadership from their owners.
I mean, why wouldn't they have evolved this way? They relied on human companions for food, shelter, companionship, and basically all the resources they required to survive and thrive.
I want to believe that maybe the people who keep rallying against the idea of dogs having a human "leader", is because they have a misguided understanding of what true leadership between human and dog really is.
Establishing leadership with your dog isn't about physical punishment, alpha rolling, or pinning your dog to the ground to prove your physical dominance. It's not even about physical dominance at all. Rather, it entails showing your dog that you provide all of their valuable resources, and they should exhibit desired behaviours in order to have access to these resources. I don't believe during the evolution of dog that a human would feed or provide shelter to a dog that exhibited aggressive behaviour, such as biting. Instead, humans would provide food and shelter to a dog that cooperates with them. They have a relationship of mutual gain.
So why are so many R+ trainers using this study on wolves to convince people that any trainer that believes in a hierarchy within the home is abusive?
If asking your dog to work for their food, giving affection as a reward for good behaviour, initiating and putting a stop to play, and asking your dog to respect boundaries and thresholds is abusive in their minds, and they are convincing people of this, then dog trainers all over the world are going to continue to be very, very busy.
Please people, do not believe this argument that leadership means physically dominating and punishing your dog. Instead, please take some time to consider the evolution of the dog, and how they have come to rely on us for their well-being and survival. You may also consider what happens to families who choose not to provide leadership, rules or structure to their children, who never say no, and who provide them with endless amounts of resources (toys, games etc) and affection, despite their uncooperative and unruly behaviour. It's really quite similar. You end up with spoiled, pushy, and rude behaviour and a sense of entitlement when they don't get what they want (often leading to displays of aggressive behaviour).
Make your dog happy, and provide some structure for them. They will thank you for it with very desirable behaviour!
To read the Article, click the link below: