We have three dogs in our family — all are rescue dogs (aka: “pound dogs”). Both my wife and I had dogs throughout our childhoods too. We love our dogs. But we both have naively believed the alpha-dog myths for decades.
I am reading the book “Inside of a Dog” by Alexandra Horowitz and just listened to an NPO 38 minute program by John Bradshaw who wrote “Dog Sense“. Both these authors debunk the alpha-dog myth which is based on a false understanding about evolution. It assumes that because dogs are evolutionary decendents of wolfs then dogs must be like wolfs. But the authors give us tons of examples of the differences between dogs and wolfs. If you own or love dogs, and are as stupid as I am, these books will help you.
I love to read stuff that uses science to undermine my treasured ideas. But then, I love change and not everyone loves change — in fact, most people don’t treasure change at all.
I have been slowly realizing the stupidity of my beliefs about dogs over the years but these books have crystalized my slowly growing understanding. I think the same happens to some religious folks when they slowly take chances reading literature that questions their assumptions. Change can be difficult — even for something as simple as how we treat our dogs, yet alone if our change can take us away from the communities with whom we identify. Understanding your own resistance to change and how many unquestioned assumptions you have may help you in your debates with other vulnerable people about their strongly held beliefs.
Question to reader: Have you made mistakes with your dogs?