Personally, I think the dominance theory has held clout for so long because it makes sense to us power-hungry humans. It pleases our egos to feel that we are in control of a dog and we are its ultimate "master." We like to be in control, particularly of dumb animals. If we can browbeat a dog into doing what we want, we feel more powerful.
Dominance-based training gets results, as you point out, because fear and pain are powerful training techniques. But we can actually teach a dog, with respect and clarity, and get a solid relationship in the process--without ever having to lay a hand on them or force them to realize that we are "the alpha."
I feel like the positive training movement has been so immensely liberating to human-dog relationships. Rejecting dominance-theory training is freeing to both the dog AND the human. Now, under this positive paradigm, dogs don't have to operate purely out of fear of reprisal; humans don't have to be obsessed with "being the alpha," frantically running around to make sure they are dominant in all things.
I believe better, healthier bonds result from a training relationship that is founded on trust and mutual respect, rather than on power, coercion, and control. And I have a feeling that, if dogs could communicate in this way, they'd agree, too.
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Pyrrha & Eden