- Here is where there is a huge divide between Dog Trainers.
- Those that adhere to the The Pack Theory and those that do not.
- But which Pack Theory?
- The old or new
- Alpha or Alpha-Beta-Omega structure
Pack – Alpha
- This Pack Dominance theory came from studying forced Packs. Wolves in captivity.
- We now know that Natural Forming packs follow a Alpha-Beta-Omega structure
- Domestic dogs, like their wild wolf counterparts, also interact in complex hierarchical ways.
Dog or Wolf
- Dog behavior refers to the collection of behaviors by the domestic dog, and is believed to be influenced by genetic, social, situational and environmental causes.
- The domestic dog is a subspecies of the grey wolf, and shares many of its behavioral characteristics.
Although there are important and distinct differences between dogs and wolves.
Wolf – V – Dog
- Research of packs formed in the wild indicates that wolves form a family group, including a breeding pair and their offspring.
- In these familial packs, the terms “dominance,” and “submission” are less useful than “parent,” and “offspring,” and bring with them a number of misconceptions.
- While the majority of research to date indicates that domestic dogs conform to a hierarchy around an Alpha-Beta-Omega structure, like their wild wolf counterparts.
Pack – v – Family
- Packs are family units, and the “alpha” of a pack does not change through struggles for dominance. Rather, it argues that the family unit serves to raise the young, which then disperse to pair up with other dispersed wolves to form a breeding pair, and a pack of their own. This model undermines the popular conception of dominance in wolf social behavior.
- I use the word Pack and the term Pack Leader.
- I could say Family and Dad or Mum or Mum & Dad or The Boss
- I use the term Leadership
- I do not mean Dominance when I say that, I mean Leadership
- What leadership means in relation to our interaction with our dogs is to provide direction, to show and teach them what they are allowed to do, guide them towards what they can and may do instead of engaging in nuisance-type behaviours such as jumping up, biting on hands, pulling on the lead, barking, or barging through doorways.
- And ‘do’ is an important word here – it’s not enough to say ‘I want my dog to stop barking’ or ‘I want my dog to not jump up’ or ‘not pull on the lead’ – leadership is about teaching them what we want them to do instead, not what we want them not to do.
- Leadership requires concerted and constructive effort on our part, and involves us prompting and coordinating friendly social interaction, activities and behaviours that bring beneficial results both to us as leaders and to our dogs as followers. It’s about quality of life and enriching the bond that we have with our dogs.
Leadership requires us to communicate clearly and compassionately with our dogs, to be patient and tolerant while our dogs are learning to follow and trust our direction, and above all, to remember that we are on the same team as our dogs – always.
- Every species is unique in their behavior. That is how we tell them apart even if their anatomy is closely related.
- As such, humans and chimps are clearly different species, with a common ancestor, but only some common, primate behaviors.
- The same is true for dogs and wolves. There are some common behaviours.
Evolution of the Dog
- Behavioral variations happen when animals adjust to different environmental demands.
- Adapting to one’s environment, is evolutionary success.
- The big divergence regarding wolves and dogs is that dogs live on human waste, and non-captive wolves hunt and kill prey.
The Human Bond
- Food seeking is a primal drive, and that makes that difference a profound one, because it means that wolves depend on one another for survival, and dogs don’t.
- They depend on humans.
- They evolved from Wolves into the Dog.
- A mutually beneficial result for both Dog and Human
Pack Leader/Mum or Dad
- Why does it matter to us if dogs are natural pack animals or not? Because it impacts their behavior and our life with them, that’s why.
- Does that mean that our canine companion needs a pack leader? Well, she certainly needs someone who explains how her world works; how she can belong, stay safe and access resources. How she can thrive through cooperation. And that someone has to be the human. The onus is on you, but an existing canine co-dweller who knows the ropes can certainly function as a great helper.