Category Archives: dog pack

Do Pack Instincts Influence Dog Behavior?

By Linda Cole

Humans are a complex species; we have different views on issues, which at times can turn into heated arguments that divide us. We also have the ability to evaluate different situations to make our own choices. Dogs on the other hand, react to situations based on pack instincts that were hardwired into them eons ago during the domestication process. These innate pack instincts guide and influence the behavior of dogs in their everyday lives.

Instinct isn’t knowledge that needs to be learned. It’s an automatic intelligence present at birth in all living species. It’s what guides migrating birds and butterflies on marathon flights in the fall and spring, and it’s how squirrels and other animals know when it’s time to stockpile food for the winter. It’s the survival instinct that ensures continuation of the species.

The variety of jobs canines have been bred to do is based on their natural abilities and pack instincts. A sled dog team is able to function because they work together as a team. Each member knows his place in the group, and follows instructions from their human leader. One reason why our relationship with dogs has been so successful is because we share the importance of the family unit and the social bond that binds members together.

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Do Dogs Need Canine Friends?

By Lisa Mason

There are a lot of different opinions about whether a dog needs to have other dogs around them to have a happy life. Some will say that their tiny little dog hasn’t seen another dog since it left its mother. Other pet owners will clutch their small dog protectively when a larger dog approaches. They worry that the small dog will get hurt rough housing around with the bigger canines.

All the while that we humans are holding our small dogs in our arms to keep them out of harm’s way, typically the dog is struggling to get free to go play with the other dog. We keep our dogs indoors and away from other dogs because we fear that another dog may have fleas or some other disease that will infect our dogs. We in fact baby and protect our dogs to the point of making them social outcasts.

Dogs are Members of a Pack

Dogs are social animals.  Let’s not forget that they are descendants of wolves who ran in packs. Let’s not forget that our dog’s ancestors lived in the wild and were quite capable of taking care of themselves. We have domesticated dogs so much over the years that they are now totally dependent on humans for their every need. Dogs used to run in the wild, in packs. The pack leader, or head canine, kept the pack under control and taught the smaller pups how to interact within the pack’s circle.

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Why Dog Walking is Important

By Linda Cole

Dog walking is an activity that takes time and energy. After a hard day’s work, it’s not always easy to pull yourself out of your chair to take the dogs for a walk, especially if they don’t have good leash etiquette. However, walking your dogs on a daily basis creates a unity in your pack that helps them learn they belong together. Dog walking as a group teaches dogs they are a family and you are the one in control.

When you have more than one dog, their personalities can get in the way during playtime. One may be a ball hog and another may be shy and won’t play because their personality holds them back. Another dog may be jealous and does everything in their power to interfere in your playtime with others in the pack. And trying to reward with treats can bring out food aggression issues in some dogs who don’t want to share. You may be tempted to just give up because of the hassle involved with interacting with more than one dog. But since you are the leader, it’s up to you to find that one activity that can bring everyone together as one, and dog walking is the best way to do that.

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The Difference Between Dog Aggression and Protection


By Linda Cole

My Terrier mix Kelly (pictured) is my protector. It’s been a challenge teaching her it’s alright if a family member, friend or my other pets want to approach me. I have no problem with her actions if I need protection and she is as loyal as she could be, but protection can turn into aggression. And protection and aggression are not the same thing.

We have dogs for different reasons. They may be our hiking partner or a friend on our daily run or walk. Some want to own a dog who loves playing in water, competing in obstacle courses or snuggling next to you on the couch. Without thinking about our dogs protecting us, most owners would admit that’s one of the advantages to owning a dog. My dogs are great at alerting me to noises and smells they detect coming into the house from outside.

Protecting the pack is done without even thinking for most dogs. A female dog will protect her pups, and it’s as natural to a dog as it is for us to protect our family. A dog will protect what he feels is his, but only if he feels threatened. If a dog moves in front of his owner when an unfamiliar dog or a person approaches them or quietly steps between his human child and another kid fighting, that is protection. A dog who is assuming a protective position will do so silently with no growling or snarling. He will reserve judgment to decide if a more aggressive response will be needed. A dog who is being protective will only become aggressive if it is necessary to do so. Once the threat has passed and he determines the dog coming up to you is friendly or the person means you no harm, he will back down.

Aggression is a response where the dog will use force or needs to display dominance in every situation they encounter. It’s important to remember that aggression is not protection. A dog who is displaying aggressive tendencies may not have been properly socialized with other dogs, could be a dominant dog who is trying to show his dominance over others, or a dog who is fearful. That’s why it’s important to make sure a puppy is properly socialized when most aggressive tendencies can be avoided.

One way to tell if a dog is being aggressive is if they are growling when there’s no reason for them to do so. When your dog steps between you and another dog or person and they are growling or seem to be upset, it’s time to take him away from the situation. An approaching dog or human should not garner anything more than your dog paying attention to them. Growling is a warning sign that the dog could initiate a fight or bite. A dog that’s in a protective position will have the good sense and judgment to understand each situation and you most likely won’t even know he was in protection mode.

My mom had a medium sized mixed breed dog, Ben. Late one night someone jimmied her front door open. Ben was in the back of the house with mom as she was getting ready for bed. He heard the person trying to break in. Without a sound, Ben raced from the back bedroom and hit the front door just as the person was about to enter. The only time Ben let out a snarling bark was when he caught sight of the man in the window of the door before the man ran away. I have no doubt that if the intruder had made it inside, Ben would have protected his home and his person. A dog in protection mode should stop once the intruder or reason why a dog felt his protection was needed has passed or the dog or person surrenders and leaves. That was exactly what Ben did.

Aggressive dogs bite people and other dogs every year. Knowing the difference between protection and aggression can prevent a lawsuit or the possibility of having a dog declared a danger to society. Having a good knowledge of a dog’s body language can aid a dog owner in knowing if a dog’s reaction is protection or aggression. It’s always easier and safer to avoid a dog fight to begin with and no one wants to have the worry of a lawsuit if a dog bites someone. Knowing your dog can help you understand if he’s being protective or aggressive. To defuse a situation if you are outside or at a dog park and you have doubts, the best thing you can do is to calmly leave the scene. Dogs do signal their intent and it’s our responsibility to learn and understand how to listen to and watch what they are saying and showing to us.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Why Are Dogs Protective of Children?


By Ruthie Bently

Growing up I had several incredible dogs in my life. We lived on two acres at the end of a gravel road, and I had to walk a quarter of a mile to catch the school bus. The man who lived across from the bus stop had a Saint Bernard, and every morning the dog would come out of the house and walk me to the bus stop. As soon as I was on the bus, he went back home, and every afternoon when I got off the bus he was waiting for me. No matter the weather, he would walk me to the north end of his owner’s property before returning home.

My family owned two boxers, though not at the same time. They were both named Duchess, and were our constant companions. Dutchie (the first) watched over us in the summertime when we went racing across the yard or rambling through the woods that surrounded our property. Whenever I was ill, she would climb on my bed and nestle next to me, keeping me warm with her body heat.

One cold winter day while we were playing inside, Dutchie began whining, barking, growling and pacing the room. We looked out the window and saw a man with no coat on walking across our back yard. The closer he got to the house, the more upset Dutchie became. Mom tried to call the police but the line was busy (this was before 911). The man took off down the drive to the main road. Our neighbor across the street had reached the police and they met the man at the end of our road. We found out later he had walked away from a psychiatric hospital over ten miles away. Dutchie used that innate sixth sense dogs have when danger is near.

Our second boxer (Dutchie II) tried to save me one day while I was swimming. I had swam underwater to see how far I could go on one breath and when I disappeared, she came after me. She caught up to me and began tugging on my hair trying to save me. I wasn’t in any danger of drowning as I was a good swimmer, but Dutchie didn’t know that. After this incident, Dutchie was always watchful when I went swimming, and often swam with me.

I have read several accounts of dogs saving children from drowning or guarding a child during a cold winter night when they accidentally wandered from their home. I even read a story about a pit bull that saved children from a cobra with no apparent thought for its own safety. But why do they do it? Very simply, dogs are pack animals and when we bring one home they accept us as members of their pack. Because we become the alpha dog of the pack, they are bound by their instincts to protect us, and in their eyes our children, as offspring of the alpha, must be protected as well.

All female dogs (wild or not) protect and teach their pups, and although human children are larger than most puppies we are pack members and they accept us into their care. In the wild, the pack must make sure the pups reach adulthood, as they are the continuation of the pack’s lineage. Protectiveness comes to our dogs from their wolf ancestors and the years of breeding we have added to their genealogy. Dogs instinctually know that human children are in need of care.

I heard a story about a boy with seizure issues, and though his dog was not trained could recognize symptoms and would warn his mother when he was about to have one. The school year started and the boy went off without his four-legged companion since dogs were not allowed. One day, the dog began whining, acting strange and looking out the window in the direction the bus had gone. The boy’s mom couldn’t get the dog to settle down and on a hunch called the school to speak with the nurse, who told her that the boy had just had a seizure. The school was ten miles from where the boy lived, and yet his dog knew what was going to happen.

We as humans need to be taught to be wary of potential dangers, but our dogs do not and they act accordingly, whether they are raising puppies or babies. While we as adults can usually see danger coming, our children cannot and our canine companions act to protect our precious two-legged family members.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.