Akita Debate

Come and vote for the pros and cons of akita here

Dominance myth

wolf fight smallThe akita is mentioned in many places as Alpha and very dominant. Well we have news for you,dominance in dogs is scientifically proven to be a myth. The AVSB (American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior) in its concern for the resurgence of dominance theory issued a position statement. By definition the state of being dominant according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary is defined as a dominant position especially in a social hierarchy. This definition is the one more closely related to and applied to domesticated canines as a perceived behavior of studied domestic wolf families. One particular study done by L. David Mech now has proven dominance to be false information when it comes to how wild wolves live.

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Dominance in domestic dogs,useful construct or bad habit?

akita little cats small

The paper by Bradshaw, Blackwell and Casey called “Dominance in domestic dogs – useful construct or bad habit?” reviews how the term dominance has been misappropriated in the context of domestic dog aggression. It is not a trait of a single animal nor is it a motivation for how they interact. It also discusses recent literature on wolf packs and feral dog packs.

In the popular press, it is easy to use terms such as dominance and pack. We need to remember that the word pack is just a name, just as a group of whales is a pod or a group of birds is a flock. Wolf pack theory evolved back in the 60s based on premise that dogs and wolves, being of the same species, act in the same way. As well, Dr Mech’s book (The Wolf: Ecology and Behavior of an Endangered Species) was published at this time. Unfortunately this data was based on observing an artificial wolf pack (a group of captive unrelated wolves). This led to the popularization of the terms such as alpha and dominance.

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The myth of alpha dogs

akita saya fairy tale smallI remember reading books years ago that talked about the need to be the “alpha” in your house in order to keep good control of your dog. I read about the importance of “alpha rolling” the dogs to show dominance, to always go through doorways first, and to always eat before feeding the dogs. It was considered important for humans to show dogs that we were in control, we were dominant in the relationship, and we were the “alphas” in our households.

 This was important, we were told, because our dogs would seek to take that “alpha” role from us. Now, after years of scruff shaking and “alpha rolling” our dogs unnecessarily, we have learned the truth. “Alpha Dominance” is one of the most persistent lies in all of what we know about dogs.

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Behavior isn't like cement-trainers with jackhammers need not apply.

akita saya looking upI get how it happens. If you live in a no pain, no gain world long enough, you start believing that good training involves breaking things. Just look at the way we talk about behavior change: We break horses, habits, spirits, and each other's backs. We even break houses to teach puppies where to pee. The expectation that training requires force and coercion is so ingrained in our culture that we actually idolize those who break behavior best: Hail Caesar!


It's time to take a deep breath and blow away that cultural fog. You don't need to break anything to change behavior, but you do need to notice how behavior works. That's exactly what behavior scientists have been doing for over 100 years and the resulting behavior-change technology, applied behavior analysis (ABA), is applicable to all species of learners.

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