Tough Love – A Meditation on Dominance and Dogs is a 37 minute documentary that – according to the online synopsis – “..traces the history of the “alpha dog” concept from its origins in 1940s wolf studies to its current popularity among ordinary dog owners, pondering themes of family, hierarchy, and power along the way.”

It will cost you $5 to watch the movie online (which in the Philippines is about as much as it would cost you to buy a cinema ticket). The topic being relevant to my profession and to me being a dog owner, I did think the fee was worth it, and I would recommend it to any dog professional or dog owners who have been taught to apply the “alpha dog” concept to their pet.

It is my hope that upon watching the documentary, such owners might gain an insight into this concept’s origins and re-evaluate the relationship they have with their dog. I would  also recommend this documentary to those who would like to learn about positive or force-free methods of animal training as alternative methods to the use of harsh punishment, force or intimidation; and to positive trainers who would like more information on the topic such that they can better educate dog owners.

I admit that I side with advocates of positive and/or force-free methods, and believe it is praiseworthy that the creators of this film attempt to dispel misconceptions about dominance theory and how it relates to how we humans interact and train our dogs (Obviously, this affects the objectivity of my review of this documentary). Not surprisingly, only a small attempt is made to air the side of “alpha dog” concept proponents and the film dedicates only a few minutes to an interview with a dog trainer of that school of thought, suggesting an obvious bias on the part of the director and/or producer.

If you are a Cesar Millan fan and have taken to applying his methods to your own dogs, you might find your beliefs jarred by the revelations presented in this documentary. I urge you not to take this information as an assault on Millan and his methods. Rather, consider that there is a different way of relating to and training dogs (and animals in general) that, as one trainer featured in the movie puts it, “is advantageous to both species”.

Watch the Tough Love trailer below

Watch the Full Movie by visiting
If you have watched the movie, please feel free to leave questions or comments regarding its content or the topic of its discussion below.

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