Dominance and power — very important to us humans.
But if we want to be successful in our relationships and training endeavors with others, we have to find a way to view these in a different light. Nothing good can come from allowing our aggressive tendencies (predator instincts) to boil to the surface. I’m bringing this up, because I often hear “animal trainers” commanding their clients to flip their dog over and pin them to the ground in an intimidating, highly aggressive manner. Or maybe it’s the horse trainer whipping a horse’s skin raw — perhaps a hefty jerk on the bit.
For the most part, if an animal truly sees you as their leader, they’re not going to continuously test you. If you’re good at your “job” as a leader and you’re fit for that position, they’ll be happy to follow you with no objection.
As humans, instead of earning an animal’s respect, we try to force them to submit by doing… whatever it takes.
So while an average dog trainer’s advice might be to flip your dog over for submission, I agree, but I don’t agree with how they go about doing that. It’s true, if a dog looks up at you it signals a submissive behavior from them… temporarily.
Right when they’re back on their feet, they will perceive you just as they did before you forcefully shoved them down. There is no respect, no leadership, and no compassion coming from you or that dog. So you want to get your dog on their back, but not forcefully. How?!
When you’re playing with the dog, give them belly rubs, scratches… anything that causes them to lay on their back. This way they’ll be looking up at you, signaling the submissive behavior, but they won’t hate you for it. Standing up and looking at you – your dog will most likely look up to you more. They’ll think something along the lines of, Hey, that person’s a good leader by taking care of me and making sure I’m safe and happy! Instead of: Just wait until he turns his back – I’ll let him know who’s boss and bite him hard!
Of course I understand that, in extremely aggressive dog cases, there are times when pinning a dog to the ground is exactly what is needed. Just like some people might need a light slap to knock them out of a weird state (if someone’s acting hysterical for example).
On the other hand, acting aggressive towards our animals, just because we can, will never earn their respect. It simply causes them to pen up hatred, fear and resentment towards us and one day that will all come out and it’s never good for either party. There’s almost always another option — try to find it!