Honestly, I was planning to forgo all negativity, to stop writing posts with clever — but hostile — titles about a certain TV personality. I was planning to — and still will, I promise — write about how to find a good dog trainer.

Then, yesterday, someone posted a link on Twitter to a dog trainer, now retired, who believes that dominance can be achieved by spitting in your dog’s food. Adam Katz, the aforementioned saliva advocate, writes:

Why do I recommend spitting in your dog’s food?

Because you’re marking the dog food with your scent. And because the Alpha dog in the pack always eats first.

This is a subtle way to communicate to your dog that you are the pack leader. But this alone won’t do it. You need to be acting like a pack leader in every other aspect of your dog’s life, too. Such as being the first to walk through a door. Or telling your dog where to lay down, and when he’s allowed to eat. And making sure you follow through and enforce any and every command that you give.

I’ve already noted the unscientific nature of dominance theory, based as it is on outmoded — and inaccurate — wolf studies. In a much earlier post, Dominance Theory Gone Wild: The Angry Kiss of the Papillon, I pointed out what can happen when dominance theory filters down into the mainstream, how absurd it was to believe a wee pillow licking pup was somehow trying to assert dominance.

It never occurred to me that this notion was close to one being advocated by a self-professed dog trainer.

I began picturing Adam Katz as having a reality show called The Dog Spitter. Or, alternatively, opening up  The Dominance Cafe, a place where, instead of knowing your name, everyone spits in your food.

You see, dominance theory presupposes that you can establish yourself as the leader of a dog pack, that differences in species don’t matter. And no one would deny that humans are animals. Therefore, taking the spit theory to its logical conclusion, any member of the wait staff who expectorates into a bowl of soup can assert primacy over the soup’s recipient. Forget just taking revenge on an irritating patron.  The mere presence of his or her scent would inspire the customer to leave the server a 30% — or higher! — gratuity, buss his own dishes, not linger over her food… all manner of desirable behaviors.

Sure, the Dominance Cafe might rack up a bunch of health code violations if the stealth mind control method were to be discovered but, until then, everyone in the room would be incredibly well behaved. Except, perhaps, for the Alpha Wait Staff.

Update: I’ve identified the source of the spit advocate blogger,  alert tweeter Eric Goebelbecker, a trainer who does not spit in his dog’s food (as far as I know), or at least not to assert dominance. Check out what he does advocate at his Dog Spelled Forward website and blog.

9 thoughts on “Dinner at the Dog Dominance Cafe”

  1. Hilarious! Even assuming, for the sake of argument, that the wolf model of dog training made any sense, did wolves spit in the pack’s food? Did wolves walk through the door first? Did wolves even tell the others where to lie down? NO. The studies that reject this perspective on wolf behavior abound, most recently in the current issue of BARK Magazine. Rather, they report that wolves behave like families: parents guide, sometimes punish, and mostly just cohabit. Further, the studies that reject the correlation between wolf behavior and dog behavior are legion. Give it a rest, Adam Katz, and stop spitting. That’s just sick.

  2. I am proud to say that I do not spit in my dogs’ food, not to assert dominance and not even if I repeat “She sells seashells by the seashore” while preparing their food.

    I’m not a waiter either.

    1. Clare, wolves regurgitate their food into the mouths of their young’uns — which is why I suggest in Am I Boring that dominance trainers need to go the whole way and do that too if they want to make their charges truly submissive.

      Eric, I’m pleased to hear that your pack’s’ food is spit free.

  3. I tried Peeing on the walls of my house to assert my ALPHA smell but my wife found out and beat me over the head with a salami.
    Unfortunatly my dogs saw this and I think they are now laughing behind my back. Hopefully I can spit in everyones food and reclaim my rightful role as Pack dDctator.

    P.S. Please dont post my name as I am afraid my wife may see this.

    1. Your secret is safe with me. I would think that the dogs were not only laughing — I know I am — but might try to emulate the behavior that earned you a beating with a salami, as they might be able to snatch it out of your wife’s hands should such a beating occur.

  4. Pingback: DogSmith » Debunking The Dominance Myth in Dog Training

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