Pete’s weekly online piece in the Telegraph: the new easy way to learn the truth about cats and dogs

Collies are the most common breed to bite humans in Ireland

It’s thirty years since I qualified as a vet, and in that time, our understanding of “the truth” has changed. The dominance hierarchy of dogs has been shown to be untrue, the idea that cats love the company of other cats is a myth, and there are many other examples.

As a vet, I have kept up to date with these changes in our knowledge by going to regular educational events, as well as by reading journals and text books. But for owners, it can be difficult to stay up to date.

The University of Edinburgh has a dedicated animal welfare college: The Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education, funded by a generous bequest from an animal loving philanthropist. The centre has set up a new way of learning all about current thinking on dogs and cats, and now its possible to do a free online course that will bring up up to date in just five weeks. You only need to do a couple of hours a week, and the quality of videos, information and discussion is top notch.

To find out more about this, read my latest online post in the Daily Telegraph: click on the link below.


  • Sue W says:

    Please can you show where the dominance hierarchy of dogs has been shown to be untrue? Dominance hierarchy is a fact of life for all social species, including us. I have even seen a recent study that shows dogs tend to be more hierarchical than wolves. I think the real problem is that there is so much mis-information out there that many have come to see dominance hierarchy as a bad thing, which is not the case at all. Without it, social animals would struggle to avoid serious conflict and suffer with the stress created by fear and aggression among themselves.

  • petethevet says:

    Sue – read this excellent web page that explains the theory behind this in detail
    Of course there is an element of dogs dominating other dogs at any given moment during an interaction but it is not the way that people used to believe it to be – and this is a really good example of the value of people doing this free online course.

  • Sue W says:

    Thanks Pete. This, of course, does not show that dominance hierarchy of dogs has been shown to be untrue, which is the statement I took issue with. It does show there is a lot of confusion on the subject. I do not actually feel totally comfortable with definition of dominance given in this article, using words like force and aggression, because that creates precisely the misunderstanding I referred to earlier. So, I guess we can agree that dominance in dogs is not the way some people used to believe it to be, while still accepting that this does not mean it does not exist.

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Please note that I am unable to answer veterinary questions in comments. If you have questions or concerns about your pet's health it is always better to contact your vet.

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