In the spring of 1993, two things
happened that began to erode my confidence in the Dominance
Reduction Program and gave me a severe headache at the time.
The first of these was that I was seeing a number of problem
dogs and their owners with extreme problems that had not become
better as the result of applying Dominance Reduction Programs,
but were getting ever worse.
I must admit to having fallen prey myself to the unhelpful
human behaviour of “if at first you don’t succeed, try harder”.
Dominance Reduction Programs worked, right? The owners were just
not doing them hard enough!
The effect of tightening up on the Dominance Reduction
Program further and further was appalling. One dog in particular
and one who, it could be said, gave her life for us all and me
in particular at that time, was a Doberman bitch by the name of
Bridget. When we started, she had some mild moments of general
disobedience in an otherwise loving relationship with her female
owner. After 3 months on the Dominance Reduction Program, she
was a ravening mad beast who turned and tore apart an old cat
she had played with happily her entire life and the owner had
her put to sleep on the spot.
That is when I stopped dead and knew something was terribly
wrong. I closed my behaviour counseling practice and turned with
a passion to finding out just what had happened and to
investigate the whole Dominance Reduction Program situation from
a new standpoint.
And then the second piece of evidence came to me.
Previously, I had been involved in setting up a long term
study of the effects of the Dominance Reduction Program on the
dog/s and owner/s – in order to have scientific back up data on
how good they were and how useful. As the questionnaires came
back from the owners who had undergone these miraculous changes
for the better two years ago it became blatantly apparent that;
- many dogs had become worse and Bridget had not been the
only example of this at all;
- that many owners had stopped using the Dominance Reduction
Program strategies within days of the consultation and the old
original problems had never been resolved at all;
- and that many more dogs developed behaviour problems of a
different kind as well as the original
This rang a bell and I looked up a similar study conducted by
an American animal behaviour team in the 70’s, a husband and
wife – Hart & Hart. Their study had been conducted before
the onset of Dominance Reduction Program and their popularity,
and it mirrored mine quite perfectly apart from one detail –
the statistics of dogs becoming much worse were absent.
At this time I was also beginning the study of NLP and this
incredible modality suggests that one should model excellence in
order to know how to design trainings and strategies to
re-create excellence in others.
When I looked carefully at people who I regarded as having an
“excellent” relationship with their companion animals and
including myself, I realised with astonishment that we were NOT
applying any Dominance Reduction Program strategies at all with
our own creatures.
- Our relationships were NOT that of human
wolves within a pack.
- What we were doing was inherently and
- Instead of turning ourselves into
wolves, we remained human and endeavoured to teach our
creatures the ways of human communication.
- Instead of waging war with our animals,
we were co-operating with them from a base line of mutual
respect and understanding.
And then one day, it hit me like a ton of bricks what it was
that was so completely overlooked in scientific animal behaviour
and yet so glaringly on display if only one would open one’s
eyes as THE major factor of the successful companion animal
Dominance Strangles Love