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Pack and Social Order

Dog Training & Behavior


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#1
Old 08-20-2008, 12:09 AM
a.doyle a.doyle is offline
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Talking Pack and Social Order

Unfortunately, it's sometimes easy to let the dog boss us around. One of my friends has a very dominant Pomeranian that she has unfortunately spoiled rotten for a long time. The dog has basically established itself as Alpha to her, her boyfriend, and her roommate - thus, really stops listening to her unless (and he makes it obvious) he's in a benevolent mood. Watching this one night made me think about a dog's pack.

I was taught and have read (and have seen in my own dogs) that dogs develop a social order based on strength, ferocity and leadership abilities ... this was true of their wild brethren and stays true with us (though in more subtle ways). Domesticated dogs view us as the substitute pack (which explains why dogs are so loyal and constant companions). Dogs form strong social attachments and are capable of maintaining intense and complex relationships with multiple members of said pack.

The most important aspect in my mind of pack structure is establishing YOURSELF as Alpha. Wolves, and dogs, work by a chain of command established via the Alpha on down in a pecking order. Once the Alpha is determined, the lower ranking members sort themselves out and assume various responsibilities and privileges based on their rank.

This is ingrained in dogs and thus, their instinct is to either lead the family or be led by the strongest member. A leader, from a dog's POV, is absolutely necessary, and thus - if no human member seems fitting, the dog's own instincts will push it to fulfill the empty role ... which can lead to aggression, dominance issues and other difficulties. It is vital your pet be given the subordinate status. This doesn't mean you have to verbally or physically (Don't you dare!) berate your dog ... human authority is already fairly well established by size, tone of voice, taking charge and insisting on good behavior consistently.

Don't think that you're doing your dog a favor by being its "friend" or "parent," or by not disciplining it and letting it walk all over you. Dogs are much happier if they have an established pack order with YOU in the leadership position. Also remember, many actions dogs take are very subtle but still vies for dominance (sitting on furniture, not moving if they're in the way, walking on top or over you, going through doorways or up staircases before you) and a dog who thinks that you aren't leading might soon decide to become his/her own leader.

I've had to take all this to heart with my most recent dog, as Lyra is a dominant, headstrong female (hmm, remind me of anyone...) and I've had to be a more dominant leader with her than with any previous pets. However, I still think it's a toss-up to whether she thinks she's subordinate or alpha (probably the latter) to the boyfriend
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Last edited by a.doyle : 09-05-2008 at 04:34 PM.

#2
Old 08-25-2008, 03:23 PM
Hollie Hollie is offline
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Thumbs up Great post!

I am going to print this out and pin it on my friends fridge- high enough so the dog doesnt see it and demand its removal (which she would had she the ability to read and make statements) although she can dictate to her little family unit quite the thing, and although Mummy doesnt seem to get up from her seat much to take her out into the garden etc her laidback attitude means the dog rules the roost and slave-boyfriend is left picking up after her.

#3
Old 09-05-2008, 04:37 PM
a.doyle a.doyle is offline
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Talking lol

Is this the Jack Russell rescue that rules the roost, or another dog? Ick! Dogs defecating inside = not good! I walked into my friend's condo one day--a really swanky place--and yet it stank to high heaven because she isn't that responsible with her dog and apparently it has marked/peed in numerous places and she either doesn't seem to mind the smell anymore, or can't smell it anymore!
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#4
Old 02-12-2009, 09:47 PM
kristwind kristwind is offline
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Thumbs up Greet and sit

Since our pug has grown up he's become quite muscular (20 lbs of pure muscle on 4 legs) and his claws are very sharp. He didn't used to have very good manners but I got tired of him running into me to greet me and scratching me by jumping up, so I started telling him to SIT pretty much every time I saw him. Now, whenever he comes in the house when I get off of work he runs at me full speed and then stops short and sits down. He's usually so excited that he's trembling and sometimes whining, but he'll stay there until I'm ready to greet him on my terms.

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#5
Old 02-26-2009, 02:34 AM
a.doyle a.doyle is offline
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Thumbs up re: the well-behaved pug

Thumbs up to that! One of the things I wish more dog owners would teach their dogs would be how to properly greet someone at the door. Too many times I have gone over to dog-owning friends' places only to be immediately jumped on or bowled into by their super-excited dog RIGHT at the door. I.E. falling out backwards because the dog has gotten so exuberant. Now, my dog--being still only 3 years old--definitely still has exuberance. In spades. However, when the doorbell rings or someone knocks, she's trained to go sit quietly on her mat until the person comes in, I greet them, and they say it's okay for my dog to greet them. At that point, she can get up and go over (which she usually does very quickly and happily) to tell them hello.

It's not that difficult to teach (as you found out) and it is a WORLD of good.
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Last edited by a.doyle : 02-26-2009 at 02:37 AM.

#6
Old 09-24-2009, 04:05 PM
zack zack is offline
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I just started a new group on the site for dog training...there is a post about animal pack behavior, check it out

http://yeepet.com/group/Dog-Training-pj77

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