Are dogs still pack animals?

Posted by Thonord
Dec 2, 2007
If Yes:
Can cats and humans be members of the same pack as a dog ? There seems to be a new "trend" in dog behavior thet says: Dogs are not pack animals because they no longer are wolves. A brit by the name Barry Eaton and a countrywoman of mine (I'm Norwegian) seem to think so.
Are they on to something I don't know about? I'm asking because their followers seem very convinced.
They use words like ridiculous, hogwash, nonsence and stupidity about ppl who still belive that dogs are packanimals.

If No: Please let me know. I need to re-think how I plan to train my new dog.

Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Dec 2, 2007
Hi there,

I am a Japanese woman who lives in the U.S.

It is a very interesting topic so I would like to post my personal opinion from my personal experience and observation of my dogs.

Most of dogs don't live in a pack nowadays, since puppies get separated at the age of few weeks and once he/she leaves the pack, he/she lives with people. I think there are some instincts in dogs as a pack animal but shouldn't be strong. Dogs get quickly socialized in the human way and they see humans as different from themselves. I strongly believe that dogs are not so dumb to mix up people and themselves together.

I have been having multiple dogs all the time. They play each other using their mouth but they never play with us human family members that way. And they know we use "Hands" not "Mouth" to do things. They put their head under my hand and lift it to urge "Pat me" and they bring a ball and hand it to me to ask to throw it again.

There are a lot of reasons why I think they know that humans and dogs not the same.

However. dogs can quickly revert to pack animals if they need to. In other words, if we leave a bunch of dogs in the mountains, they will form a pack to survive by catching prey, etc.

I understand "Alpha dog syndromes" but it is more like a discipline problem, rather than "positioning himself as a pack leader".

Looking forward to hearing more onions on this topic!!:confused:
Posted by Annie
Dec 4, 2007
good to see you in the 'proper' forum section
I´m an Australian living in Germany....just thought I´d throw that in there.....
I guess my husband is not my 'family' as we are not blood related.....but try telling that to him as he drags me to another christmas-with-the-family-drinks I guess what I´m saying is that I believe that we choose our ' family' and our 'pack'. Dogs are smart and they know which side of the who-haa their bread is buttered!
Posted by Thonord
Dec 5, 2007
I was brought up under the "old school" regime, where the humans must be the pack leaders and that there is a instinct (although) week in dogs and cats and horses to climb above the leader. With horses, this is down right dangerous. Not so much with dogs.

And although I have these old fashioned ideas and practice them, It doesnt mean that I beat the animals every time I think they are stepping "out of bounds" I have never beat a dog or a cat. I have once whipped a horse swiftly and with considerable force to change his mindset from anger to fear. Even so, I used the absolute minimum of force required. And I dont rub an animals nose in its poop if it has an accident indoors while housetraining.

I have read everything I have come across about the topic Dominance/Alpha/Pack and have discussions ongoing in other fora and my points are:

Asuming I'm wrong, then all I have to do is train the annimal. I can play as much as I wish with the animal because there is no difference between learning and playing. And asuming I train well, there is nothing to worry about because the dog will never do any thing that is not accepted by human society. I can easily train the dog to understand that the person jumping up and down and waving its arms does not want to play but is petrified by fear and the dog should leave him/her alone. I sincerely wish it was so easy and I would throw out the old stuff if I was convinced it was so!

Now, if I'm right:

First of all. There are things that are natural to an animal that unfortunately are unacceptable to humans.
And even though, one of my most basic rules is," One should never punish an animal for doing something natural (in my vocabulary, punish is everything from a mild vocal reprimand and up) - There will be times when such behavior will occur and may in worst case may lead to the animal being put down by society as a result.

I see misbehaving dogs often and I see, and I can hear, that some people end up, in desparation in a shrill voice, using words, in full sentences to control the dog - when the dog ignores them and does something it really, really wants to do. I - understand what they are saying and it makes sence to me, but to the dog??

I belive that an animal who sees me as an equal will ignore me easier than a dog that is dominated by me. In practice I belive my sphere of control is greater when I dominate the animal.

And I also belive that the animal is happier in a well functioning flock where the boundraries are known to all partys. Even though it lives with a nasty dominating person who insists upon eating first.

I also belive that 50% of all dog owners ar bellow average dog trainers. And that 9 out of 10 are terrible!

Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Dec 6, 2007
our society is human dominated society and dogs are forced to live in the society. Therefore, dogs need to learn to adjust their behaviors to meet the humans' rules and expectations.

Let me know if I am wrong but I think you wanted to know whether dogs are pack animals or not because you believe the training approach and how to treat dogs are different one way or another.

As I wrote previously I personally don't think dogs have strong instinct of pack animals any longer since they don't need to catch their prey, attack their enemies, protect their babies, etc. However, if the training is easier by positioning yourself as a pack leader, you should take advantage of it. The ultimate goal is to control your dogs' behaviors to be accepted in the human world. You can choose Alpha techniques and not feed them until human family member has eaten, or you can feed your dogs first so that they don't have to be hungry while humans eat and enjoy their meals without worrying your furry family members.

Also, you might try different approach depending on the breed of your dog, its personality and how much control is expected is all depending on where you live, your environments, and each owner's personal like/dislike.

I personally prefer to control my dogs based on the mutual trust and understandings what is accepted and not, rather than me becoming a strong leader of the pack so they have no choice but obey me. Buy my dogs are medium sized and not aggressive and eager to please me, so training is not difficult. I play games with them which involve training.

The point is we, humans, should control dogs, otherwise they will be miserable living in this society and will end up at shelters.
Posted by Thonord
Dec 6, 2007
Let me know if I am wrong but I think you wanted to know whether dogs are pack animals or not because you believe the training approach and how to treat dogs are different one way or another.

Thanks MaxHollyNoah. That is almost exactly what I am asking. To be precise, I want to know if animals and humans living together, live as a pack with the basic pack structure and the human being the Alpha "animal". Because I believe the training approach and how to treat dogs are different one way or another.

However, if the training is easier by positioning yourself as a pack leader, you should take advantage of it.

And since this is also my current philosophy about training, I am labled as being stupid, beliveing in nonsence and that my behavior borders on being cruel to animals. (in other fora)

I will, pending your consent, translate your full answer and use it there, I will ofcorse reference this thread.