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Dynamics Of A Dog And Wolf

Dynamics Of A Dog And Wolf

Dogs are man’s best friends. Though they are considered the most loyal animals, they require training and stimulation to behave well. Many professional dog trainers who provide dog training in Summerville study the pack dynamics of dogs and wolves to develop training techniques. They dive deep into how a dog behaves in its natural habitat to communicate with it easily. Several studies have been conducted on dog packs and their ancestors, the wolves. 

How Does A Wolf Pack Work?

Wolves are social animals that hunt and live together in groups called packs. Packs usually are made of adult male and female wolves with offspring of various ages. Wolf packs have definite social structures with pack leaders, called alpha males and females.  

Dogs, like wolves, are pack animals by nature. They live together for survival or with humans if they think humans are their pack. Dogs are said to have been domesticated from wolves. Hence they still exhibit many pack behaviors. Like wolves, there is always an alpha in a dog pack. The entire pack looks up to that dog for guidance, leadership, and protection. When a dog is brought home, the whole family of humans becomes a part of the pack. It is essential to train the dog as early as possible after bringing it home to ensure it gets along with everyone in the family. How you interact with your dog will help it understand who the leader is at home.

Pack Behavior Of Wolves Vs. Dogs

To understand how dogs are similar to wolves, we need to look at the pack behavior of these two animals. 

Social Structure

Wolves live in the wild and have a strong leader for the pack’s survival; the wolf leader is called the alpha. A wolf pack is typically an alpha breeding pair and their offspring and extended family. Wolves operate in cohesive packs to hunt and protect themselves and the rest of the pack from danger. The linear and social dominance among wolf packs helps them conserve energy and maintain order. The dominant animals will eat first and are responsible for deciding the hunting time and direction of travel. They also get the first choice of mates. 

On the other hand, dogs have been bred for many years to be social creatures. They are playful, less aggressive, and less fearful than wolves. A domestic dog has the best chance of survival if it stays near humans. Linear dominance may not be necessary if the dog sees the humans as its pack. But in homes with more than one dog, they maintain social order. They will maintain this group dynamic until someone leaves or joins the group.  


Wolfs have three ways of communication – body language, olfactory, and vocal. They use urine and glands on their paws to mark the pack territory and claim ownership of food resources. Distinct body language indicates dominance in the pack. The position of the tail will also indicate submission or dominance. When communicating vocally, they howl, growl, whine, or bark. They howl to assemble the pack or claim territory. Growling is considered to be aggressive vocalization. Dominant wolves usually use it towards submissive wolves in the pack. Wolves bark to create alarm, out of excitement, or as a call to hunt.

Dogs are very similar to wolves in their methods of communication. They also use their body language, olfactory ways, and vocalizations to communicate. The significant difference between the two is that dogs have an evolved way of communicating with humans. They use scents to mark territory and announce their presence. They vocalize mainly while communicating with humans.  

Stimulating Natural Pack Behavior In Dogs

There are several ways to stimulate pack behavior in dogs. The three most popular ways include:

  1. The pack leader is responsible for everyday survival strategies. As the dog sees you as the pack leader, you need to have the pack’s vital resources taken care of. Start giving food on a schedule; This will also tap into the routine aspect of the pack. You can even get your dog to do some activity before giving the food, which will tap into the ritual aspect of the pack. For instance, take your dog for a walk before mealtime, or give the food after the dog completes a series of obedience exercises. Not only will this ensure vital resources to the dog, but it will also reiterate the pack structure.
  1. If the pack operates in a structured way with rituals and routines, then as the pack leader, you must implement these routines consistently. Creating a systematic routine that your dog understands can help. 
  1. According to a dog’s pack behavior, nothing in life should be free, and every action should have consequences. Avoid petting your dog for no reason. Don’t give them treats just because you want to. Don’t let your dog do whatever it wants. If you don’t set these boundaries and let the dog do whatever it wants, it will not look at you as the pack leader. While it will love you, it may not respect you. The ideal thing to do is to give positive reinforcement when the dog does something for you. For example, pet the dog for doing something you told it to do. Give it a treat if it has been calm and not got into any trouble. Like positive reinforcement, ensure you also let the dog know that bad behavior has consequences. Usually, if the dog has a training color, a light tug on the leash is enough. Ensure the dog knows your expectations before punishing it. 

You must understand how a dog and wolf pack works; This will help you immensely while working with dogs at home.  

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