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Why do we need to learn about dog pack behavior? After all, our dogs are going to be living and working with us, and not with a group of dogs in the wild.
Pack behavior is all about how dogs communicate with each other, and how they get along. Because your dog’s pack includes you as well as any other dogs that share your home, you need to learn to understand and interpret their behavior. By doing so, you can recognize when a problem is developing and take steps to nip it in the bud.
A dog pack has a leader (known as the alpha dog), and this dog expresses his position in his pack using his body posture. A tall stance, erect ears and a tail held high all indicate an assertive dog that is in a leadership position. This dog has first choice of the best bone, the softest sleeping area and the first cuddle from their owner when they get home from work. The alpha dog isn’t often involved in fights; in fact it is the dogs that are just below him in the hierarchy that scuffle to improve their position.
In your dog pack, you must be the leader. This doesn’t mean you have to be harsh or aggressive. You need to control the resources such as food and sleeping, and be in charge of who gets attention or play time and when. If your dog insists on you patting him while you’re sitting down, then he’s calling the shots. If your dog won’t get off the couch when you want to sit down, he’s acting like the alpha dog in your pack.
In Summary – A fair and consistent leader will earn the respect of the other pack members, and they will all be happy to do as they’re asked. This in turn will result in a harmonious household with minimal arguments between dogs, or between dogs and people.
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