Over the years, I’ve given hundreds of hours of thought and attention to pack theory (not exactly the same, but irrefutably linked to dominance theory). Thinking, reading, observing dog-dog interactions (so much observing!), working with mentors, listening, more observing, more reading. I used to give a preemptive speech about it during my family dog classes, though I’ve gotten away from that recently in favour of answering questions and giving information when the topic comes up organically in class. That said, I am never hesitant to hand out the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior’s Position Statement on the Use of Dominance Theory in Behavior Modification of Animals (click the link to go directly to their four page handout for the public).
Today I finally encountered a concise, beautifully written blog post that addresses the myth of pack theory with some easily consumable soundbites (backed by solid science, of course). Because – surprise! – when you start dryly discussing captive wolf pack studies and erroneous interpretations of observed behaviour, most pet dog owners glaze over. It’s nice to have some neatly packaged information that isn’t overly technical in nature and just makes common sense.
[A brief note about the word “behaviourist”: in the United States, the term “behaviorist” is only legitimate when used by a veterinary behaviourist (DVM with certification from the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, which appears as DACVB behind DVM with the person’s name) or a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB), a PhD level designation. Both DVM DACVBs and CAABs may be research-oriented. The primary difference is that a DVM can also prescribe pharmaceuticals for animals. The situation in Canada is similar. I cannot speak to other countries’ certifications or the application of the word behaviourist elsewhere. However, I do always approach the word with hesitation when I see other trainers use it. Ethically, it is both more appropriate and more descriptive to call oneself a “behaviour consultant” without the high level education required of a “behaviourist.” – KPK]
Featured image from Saratoga Dog Walkers on Instagram. So many cute pics! Still not packs, but hey, I work in marketing, too!