Here are some links to explain why an understanding of
dog-specific psychology,
pack structure,
social hierarchy,
and leadership
are so critically important to resolving major behaviour problems.

An excellent overview of the topic!

Why Respect? (Why should he listen to me?)

A good analogy on the relevance of authority.

K9-1: Leadership is about being proactive, and utilising good technique.

This overview from a Lhasa site might give a better understanding of how dominance is NOT about violence (quite the opposite).

Groundwork for correct pack structure, at Leerburg.com.

Academic theory vs leadership in practice.

Obvious if you're looking--Suzanne Clothier explains social dominance.

Black Belt dog training--Why should your dog listen to you?

Black Belt training, on the "alpha" role.

Building a relationship FIRST.

Tips on being a trusted and respected leader.

Natural and artificial dominance

Patricia McConnell has a good grasp of what dominance is & isn't

Complex social relationships

Leadership in action: Why NOT take candy from a baby? (Suzanne Clothier)

Leadership basics

Lessons from the Masters. (Even corrections have their place.)

Terrierman is always a good read:
Terrierman on dominance, 1 and 2.


*Social dominance is ANYTHING but "disproven".

Quotes, with references, from scientists in the field.

Some background on where the "debunked" myth came from.

The only thing that's been debunked...

An overview of actual (not straw-man ideology) dominance

Trainers are weary...

Trainers are having to state the obvious...because it hurts to see people keep fatally failing their clients' dogs.

AGAIN: The willful avoidance of learning about dogs' social structure is hurting, and even killing, dogs.

Stephen Rafe on leadership and rapport.

Exceptional course for handlers, especially with groups of dogs or as shelter workers. LearningDOG.us

More how-to's:
Sonic.net library selection on "Alpha Boot Camp".
Workfare program for Chows
No Free Lunch training, from Pitbull Rescue Central
Claiming space
Pack leader tips from Chesapeake Bay Retriever rescue
Shirley Chong, Mind Games
Sophia Yin, Learn to Earn


Formal papers on most dog topics are scarce, since real life application is so different from the laboratory and there's not enough money in most things "dog" to fund a study. The science of behaviour is called Ethology, and much of it is published in books, not papers. However, here is some of what's out there in the realm of formal studies on social dominance.

Dog-on-dog pack dynamics may also be of interest.


Choosing a trainer: experience counts! Flexibility counts. Understanding dog-specific psychology (not merely operant conditioning, i.e. clicker-training) counts. Read their trainer's philosophy. Here's one example (brief summary)- http://denvermt.net/about.html
Here's another one. (far more detail) http://leerburg.com/philosophy.htm
This fellow gets excellent results with a full toolbox of methods. http://solidk9training.com/free-advice/
Another promising introduction: https://www.dogtraining.world/start-self-help/

If you're having serious behaviour problems, you're looking for someone with a wide range of knowledge, and experience that shows. GET REFERENCES. If the trainer hasn't been successful with other dogs who had similar issues, it's a gamble whether their methods will fix yours. If you can't find an appropriate trainer locally, many will do telephone sessions. For example, this lady can get you back on your feet quickly...and for the do-it-yourselfers, this course will be a big help. (Yeah, it's heavily marketed :-/ but covers a lot of important stuff, mostly in video format.)

A broad understanding of how dogs think is the underlying foundation for fast and effective rehabilitation. If you haven't tried a wholistic method, meeting the dog partway & establishing two-way communication, then you haven't "tried everything"--in fact, you are missing the biggest part of the picture. Secure, submissive dogs don't resource-guard, and in fact they rarely take it upon themselves to aggress at all.
Sometimes love (and cookies) are not enough--many dogs need the security and guidance of pack structure to function in our society, and providing that structure resolves most major behaviour problems in one swoop. Hopefully the info above will give you the tools you need to re-shape your relationship, and/or help you to locate a skillful, balanced trainer who can walk you through your dog's difficult behaviour.