Common Dog Problems

Dog Fights

Dog fights are one of the biggest sources of distress to dog owners. Sometimes the dogfights get so bad that the dogs have to be kept apart, and their families love them both too much to part with either of them. The atmosphere that builds up in the home becomes like a war zone, as everyone gets very tense when doors have to be kept closed to stop the dogs getting at each other – and from time to time, the inevitable happens, and one dog slips through, or a door is not properly closed… Then it’s not only the dogs that are at each other’s throats…

Nowhere is the peace that Natural Dog Training is able to bring into the home, appreciated more, than by the families that are now able to keep both their pets - because the fighting between them has ceased.

There are many causes of dogfights. Miscommunication, hunger (neither of which dog owners are remotely aware of), jealousy, adrenalin, object possession, stress, dogs caught the bully-cycle… Natural Dog Training pinpoints the cause of the fights, and gives the owners skills that enable the dogs to coexist peaceably again.

One of the biggest causes of the escalating incidence of dog fights, is the serious misperception amongst dog experts and laymen alike - that all dog fights are over rank, so it is therefore "normal" for dogs to fight. They must "be left to sort it out", dog owners are told. But all threatening, sizing up of one another, growling, circling, pinning down, and ultimately fighting – is anti-social behaviour! Our dog has no right whatever to claim any leadership over any person or any animal – that is the owners’ prerogative! (And telling the dogs to "stop it!" Or "voei!" only makes it worse! The situation has to be diffused through natural principles.)

Fighting and domination within a pack of wolves and wild dogs (who form a close-knit social system) is not normal. It is pathological. Dogs are made for trusting, not winning over one another. We are led to believe that domination and submission and general civil war in a pack is normal, and acceptable, and even desirable. In the army, perhaps - but not within a healthy social system.

Adding to this is the equally serious misperception that dog owners must acknowledge, confirm and even compound their dogs’ "dominance order", or "hierarchy". As a result of everyone researching and repeating what everyone else is saying, these misperceptions have become very widely spread – even in (especially in) dog training books, veterinary and behaviour journals, and text books. It is not only erroneous – it is also unproven, and these theories, which started doing the rounds in the ‘80’s, are accepted unquestioningly as fact, even though the validity of these theories has never been verified. They work on the false premise that if one dog is the clear-cut "alpha", there will be no "need" to fight. Like a permanent uneasy balance of power in a cold war. Natural Dog Training looks at the rest of the "ice berg" – not just at the tip.

Pam has conducted extensive quality control studies for you, and because of the wide-spread credibility of the above theories, she will give you a brief outline herself, as to why these hypotheses are so dangerous –even though they are taught by qualified, professional people, as well as by academic institutions. Myths surrounding how leadership functions within a functional pack of wolves and wild dogs abound amongst laymen, academics and professionals alike.

If it were the norm for packs of wolves and wild dogs to come to blows over "who is alpha", they would be in danger of extinction. There are no vets in the wild to stitch them up. This division and lack of unity, would also put them at risk of attack by natural enemies. Unity is strength, and dog packs that are divided by friction and disloyalty would not be well equipped to stand up against natural enemies in the jungle, that threaten turf, food supply, puppies and the very lives of the dogs themselves.

Bloodshed within a functional pack of wolves or wild dogs - that are not in survival - does not happen – any more than it would in a functional human social system. Through studying only dogs in survival, dogfights have come to be regarded as normal, and are just automatically presumed to all be over rank. But, in packs of dogs and wolves that are not in survival, bonds of trust and affection are very strong. In these packs, the leader (or captain) achieves alpha status through power play – not through domination and aggression. Power play is subtle, and hurts no one, sending very powerful signals, and giving massive influence to those who achieve status through them – through strength of character.

And what is this power play? It is very similar to that of a human society, ("who has the most important seat", "who places his signature last (in dogs – their scent is their ‘signature’)", "who is able to draw the most attention to himself", "who dismisses – or even - does not even acknowledge - who". It is a very fascinating subject, and the techniques are very powerful. I teach them in all my workshops, books, papers and house calls. And the alpha dogs that work for me, demonstrate them in their strong, gentle manner. They do not dominate – they disempower, through not allowing themselves to be led. This makes my clients’ dogs much more amenable to their families. This is because their dogs’ patterns of leading have been broken - and patterns of following (not submitting), have been established. They still retain their confidence - they have not become cowards. They have not lost their trust. Which is all so important.

Respecting your dogs’ hierarchy by only petting the "top" dog, feeding the "top dog" first, etc is informing your dog that you and your house belong to him. But he must fit in with you – you cannot dance around his whims! He’s too smart. He will soon catch on that you are becoming answerable to his calling the shots - and not only does power corrupt, but absolute power (which this system is inevitably going to give him) corrupts absolutely. Which means he becomes a tyrant. So he says, "My sibling can be annihilated, as. I can see that he is as worthless as I am powerful - because he gets no attention, and I get it all." Natural Dog Training shows you how to guide your dog to live within your parameters, respecting you and his siblings, without giving him the privilege of "sorting out Who’s Boss". You own the house – not him - and it just isn’t open to negotiation.

Simple as that. Dogs also fight when they are in survival. Survival should not be an issue for a pet dog. Or for our children, or for ourselves. Where food is insufficient for your dog’s own individual calorie requirements, you are more likely to have dogs fighting in your family, and therefore to be running up high vet bills. Taking your dog out of survival is essential information for all dog owners who want to both save money and enjoy their pet to the full, without any tension, rivalry or conflict between pets. (Or between pets and people.) This vital subject is dealt with in the booklet on Feeding for Temperament. No one is thinking "love" when they are thinking "food". And we want to be more than just a meal-ticket to our dog. We want him to love us for ourselves, not for what we represent. His next (inadequate) meal. Our domestic dog needs to respect us - his leader - as a successful hunter. Not to see us as one that fails to provide adequately for his pack.

Another very serious cause of dogfights, is dogs having aggressive role models. Because dogs learn by example, a huge percentage of the dogs that Pam sees for fighting problems have been to obedience training. They are simply doing to the next one down, what has been done to them – because this is the way dogs (and people) are wired up. It is called the "bully cycle", or "chain of command". Where there is a peaceful leader – there is a peaceful pack. Where there is an aggressive leader – there is an aggressive pack. Pam shows you how to be a leader that works with – not against his pack. For more on this subject, you can check out her research paper into Behind the Scenes at Obedience Training on the Product Page. It will put you in the driver’s seat – not your dog!

In a nutshell, Natural Dog Training shows you simple techniques that harness your dog’s desire to please, and removing all tension that leads to fighting. But still keeping the dog’s instinct to protect his family, intact. In fact, even more so - because he’s not constantly busy on another mission all the time. E.g.: being ever vigilant to ensure that his sibling doesn’t get any privileges – at all! Because Big Chief says so - and if he does … it’s civil war!


Disproving the “Alpha Training” myth.

These extracts from scientific Conservation and Environmental journals are in direct dichotomy to the academic journals and conventional dog training that promote the winning of dog fights as a criterion for "leadership". These studies have been conducted on packs of wild dogs where harmony exists because there are no famine conditions, and there is no human interference. Natural Dog Training achieves a very high success rate in curing aggression, when applying these natural principles.


1) Extract from: African Wildlife Foundation:


African wild dogs live in packs of six to 20. The aggression exhibited towards prey is completely nonexistent between members of the pack and there is little intimidation among the social hierarchy.


2) Extract from: Social Behaviour. [Carnivora Species Information.]


The reason wild dogs do not act aggressively to assert rank may be due to the fact that the entire social system is so cooperative-dependent that if one should be injured, the pack would be less effective in hunting for food. An African wild dog pack is dependent upon abundant food, and only one pair breeds, and those puppies are dependent on their parents for such a long period of time, that cooperation is a necessity. So, instead of an active hierarchy, they have a passive hierarchy, with cooperation being emphasized rather than dominance.

On the other hand, because dogs learn by example, long term studies in the homes of dogs that have been so-called “Alpha trained” by being dominated and made to submit reveal that dogs that these dogs in turn, dominate other dogs, visitors, children, etc.

Alpha training is therefore one of the main causes of aggression and dog fights in domestic dogs, and is easily reversed by following Nature's blueprint for harmony between members of a social unit.

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