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You're Not the Boss of Me! Pack status, does it still exist?

The method I teach is all based around the pecking order and responsibility within the family unit.  As the saying goes - anyone can steer a ship, but we need someone to know where we are going.  There are varying opinions about whether status still exists in domesticated dogs, so I’m going to use the current situation we all find ourselves in to answer that.……

Firstly, dogs are no different to us or any other species, in that they have one main goal and that is to survive. Despite dogs having been domesticated for about 15 thousand years, their DNA is that of a wolf, and therefore the instinctual behaviours of a wolf run through their blood and are at the very core of how they think and behave. You effectively have a wolf in your living room (even if it is a chihuahua).  Their survival is underpinned by the need to have a strong leader that can find food, lead them when on a hunt (the Walk) and deal with Perceived Danger (the postman etc), and if they have full confidence in that leader, they will follow him/her without question.


Now for those that say that hierarchy no longer exists, lets apply the above to our current situation. We have a Prime Minister (the Alpha in this instance) and associates who are guiding us through this pandemic.   They advise where and how to get our food (the Hunt) and we are learning more about the virus (the Perceived Danger) that threatens our survival. We continually question our leader to check he is up to the challenge of getting us through this alive.


Unfortunately, as some of us have witnessed, there are always those in society who go against the rules, so we have other members who police them and ultimately issue punishments, as those few are putting the safety of the rest of us at risk.  We have all seen dogs come together and will have observed that within a very short period of time, a more dominant (Alpha) dog will emerge and a pecking order to that new pack will develop, which they figure out for themselves.  The Alpha will keep order; is the first to eat; will deal with any jokers or rule breakers within the pack and will ward off any potential danger.  Sometimes, he will be challenged by another dog that believes he is a more competent leader, and that’s when a fight will break out.  


Whilst we are free to make some personal decisions, hierarchy governs our entire world. Think about this for a moment. As parents, you are Alpha over your children, at work, you take direction from your boss, you feed instructions down to your subordinates, in games from football to tennis, there is always a captain or an umpire and so on.  There is always someone who makes the final decision - An Alpha, a King Pin!


So, if we clearly still live in a hierarchical world and dogs sort out their own pecking order when put together, then surely pack status still exists!.  


Collette Jacobs

10/05/2020

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