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susan@playtraindog.com

Wait What Pack?

Is my dog trying to be Leader of the Pack? Sigh. Sadly, I still hear this question, although not as much as I used to. The question is misguided for a number of reasons. The sigh is for how this mindset adversely affects my favorite species, the dog.Several decades ago, some faulty research proclaimed that a pack of wolves will fight each other to the death for resources. The Pack Leader supposedly aggressively dominates all others in the pack. Since dogs are descendants of the wolf, it was reasoned, that this must also be true of them. This lead to many cruel and physically abusive training methods touted and adopted by the average dog owner, much to the detriment of the relationship between humans and dogs. In the 1970’s, a renowned wolf expert, Dr. David Mech, debunked this theory by explaining that the original experiment threw individual wolves taken from various packs into an enclosure and interpreted their fighting as normal pack behavior. When in fact, wild wolf packs are family units, in which the parents teach and nurture their puppies. They thrive due to their deep social bonds and cooperation, not as a result of dominating and fighting for resources. To further nullify this violent pack theory, research has shown that our beloved domestic dog has evolved so far from the wolf that scientists no longer consider the dog a pack animal. Feral or village dogs are scavengers that come together mainly for feeding or mating opportunities. They do not develop social hierarchies or cooperative hunting skills. Sadly, popular culture continues to perpetuate misinformation, resulting in inappropriate treatment of dogs. So, please, take a fresh look at your dog, and read up on the amazing knowledge that has come to light on the domestic dog!