Your Dog, The Pack Animal!

One thing that cats and dogs have in common –they are pack animals. In fact they have that in common with us!  A pack animal is a creature that, when in the wild, survives in a group. This group is based on a pecking order. This structure, which is based on many politics, was evolved to support nomadic, breeding and hunting activities.  

Pack behavior is most noticeable in dogs. It is part of the nature of the beast!

The reason it is so important for you to understand pack behavior is because it gives you the secret as to why your dog knows how to control you and get away with it.  In a wolf pack, there is a social structure in which each canine has a well-defined role.   It is like the military.  This is why dog obedience experts say that your dog actually likes being told what to do. His natural instincts actually embrace the idea of being controlled, because in a pack, the pack leader would give him commands. This means that you must learn to be your puppy’s pack leader if you are to train him.  From birth, a wolf is assigned his role in the pack.  

Genetics have a lot to do with it. A leader is born hard wired with alpha dog characteristics. There are very little opportunities for social climbing. A lot of it is based on looks and ability. A pack member’s superiority in the pack determines where it sleeps, if it gets to eat first or last and whether it is going to dine on fat or bone.  The dog that is the leader or alpha dog cares for the whole pack. In the wild he sleeps at high point so he can protect them all and see the entire territory. He gets to decide who mates with who and is the main aggressor.  

As this is something that is usually determined by birth, it is not easy to teach a dominant dog, who thinks he is an alpha wolf, to be a pet.   He thinks he is protecting you or your family and that you are members of a pack.  

This is why a dog that is aggressive is not necessarily a bad dog. He may simply be an alpha dog who, however inappropriately, might be trying to do his job. To harshly discipline a dog that is “doing right by you” really causes chaos and frustration.. The animal can lash back at you.  

Primal pack instincts can also come up during a walk in the park. For instance, when two dogs are first introduced to each other, you may have noticed that they have an inherent need to decide which dog is superior to the other.   The subordinate dog will usually adopt a submissive posture such as rolling over to display his tender underbelly. This rolling over to expose the underbelly is the doggie equivalent of “I surrender.” Or “I am at your mercy.”    

Sometimes there is a scuffle to try and figure out dominance or submissive urination.  This behavior is part of an ancient survival instinct that dictates that animals in a pack cannot be equal. There must be a chain of command.   This is why you must ask yourself who is “top dog” when it comes to the chain of command in your house.