Dominance theory and dogs

O-Heare DominanceAUTHOR: James O’Heare


SUMMARY: A gargantuan literature survey on dominance research.


03 Academic


James O’Heare, true to self, starts of by tidying up the house. He disentangles the relevant ethological concepts (status-rank-hierarchy, conflict, societies, etc.) for the unfamiliar reader. He then gets to the crux of the book: a detailed historical critique of the peer-reviewed literature on ANYTHING dominance-related. This is one of the most thorough literature surveys I have read, and a Dogsend for my science communications on the subject (Scientific literature on dogs and dominance, the D-word, seminars, etc.)

It might be a short book (77 pages,) but don’t be fooled: it’s hard work. James O’Heare’s writing can be painfully dry. True to self, he condensed so much intellectual goodness into so few lines that you’ll need to make yourself stop and take a breath to avoid your head exploding. This restricts readership to only the most literate of dog trainers and behaviour therapists. It is a fantastic tool for academics writing an intro to a paper on dominance. 


Go to the quiet room in the library, isolate yourself for 2 days, arm yourself with pen/paper/internet, and start devouring. Read the book once more, until you feel all the subtle points and sub-points have made it through. Then repeat once again, for good measure. If you’re after a rigorous historical survey on dominance research, it’s your baby. If you’re after a beach read, pick up Eaton Barry’s book instead.

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Author: O'Heare James
Genre: survey of peer-reviewed literature
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