Dominance Position Statement from AVSAB should win Gutsiest Veterinary Document of the year!

That’s my vote!  This is the latest in a series of long overdue, spectacularly well written and sure to be influential position statements from AVSAB (The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior). 

In an earlier post I reported on their landmark “Puppy Socialization” statement, which encouraged Veterinarians to generally recommend that puppies start class as early as 7-8 weeks of age.  This document garnished much attention in the veterinary community, and AVSAB is in the process of planning a round table discussion to help respond to some concerns raised by general practitioners. In fact, I am hoping to participate <VBG>.  

Soon after came their position statement titled  “The Use of Punishment for Behaviour Modification in Animals” – a phenomenally accurate, objective, and detailed account of the risks associated with the use of aversives in training, and why the use of aversives should not be a first line approach!

And now, with their most recent position statement “The Use of Dominance Theory in Behaviour Modification of Animals”, I think AVSAB has simply outdone themselves!  

For anyone seeking a well- researched, well-referenced, academic document which emphasizes that dominance theory should NOT be used as a general guide for behaviour modification, and that behaviour modification and training should focus on reinforcing desirable behaviors, avoiding reinforcement of undesirable behaviors, and addressing any underlying emotional states and motivations which are driving the undesirable behaviour – here it is.  

AVSAB is as concerned as the rest of us with the recent re-emergence of dominance theory, the outdated notion that dog misbehavior is primarily motivated by rank-seeking, and the consequential strategy of forcing dogs into submission as a means of correcting behaviour problems.

Anyone can access these position statements on their website - you do not need to be member, and you do not need to be a veterinarian. Just visit and feast on the delicacies under position statements. Oh, and the glossies of them that you can order, if you wish, are verrrry snazzy.

Happy New Year, dog lovers!!!