The Source of Dominance
This position is so instinctual because dogs begin learning it almost from birth as the new litter jockeys for position while nursing with the mother. The more dominant dogs will get more milk while the submissive dogs will learn to wait. Since this first struggle for position deals with food and the possible difference between life and death, it is very primal and makes a big impact.
There are three positions in the pack. Their traditional designations, especially when describing a wolf pack, are alpha, beta, and omega. There is usually one alpha couple, a male and a female, that lead the whole pack. They have a number of betas subservient to them, with the omegas subservient to everyone else.
Cesar describes these positions as being at the front, middle, or rear of the pack. The Pack Leaders, naturally, are in the front. Their job is to protect and direct the entire pack. The omega dogs are at the rear, and their job is to alert the pack to danger. The dogs in the middle of the pack are there to mediate between the front and rear.
The point of alpha dogs is to have others in the crew look at them with the highest regard and esteem. Because alpha dogs are responsible for keeping things in order, they need to display important behavioral characteristics such as composure and firmness. Dogs rely on leaders to pave the way for them, whether those leaders are human or fellow canines. As household pets, its crucial for dogs to always view their owners as alpha dogs in human form.
Alpha dogs are the highest ranking members of packs. They are followed by beta dogs, and then lastly, omega dogs. Alpha dogs possess tough, controlled “take charge” temperaments. They dont follow rules; they dish them out. Beta dogs often have strong temperaments, but are undeniably lower in status than alpha dogs, and therefore accept their positions. Omega dogs, on the other hand, are rather timid and submissive canines. They are not as self-assured as the others, and sometimes are susceptible to being walked all over by the rest.
Alpha dogs have precedence over the other individuals in their social units. They walk in front of the beta and omega dogs. They are granted first choice in desirable places to turn in for sleeping. They are allowed to have the first go at food discoveries — all while the rest of the gang patiently waits. They have priority in breeding and grooming activities. If anyone dares to defy the alpha dog, he might just send off a warning growl as a “back off.”
When it comes to the establishment of canine hierarchical structures, a lot of different components come into play. Dogs sometimes determine their social ranking through partaking in minor physical disputes — a way of assessing optimal health. Other elements that often contribute to dogs social rankings include gender, hierarchical positioning of their near kin, temperament, physical size and age. Despite these things, its not always easy to predict status. Dogs with seniority tend to be higher up than youngsters, but exceptions arent uncommon. For the most part, dog social structures remain consistent. They occasionally change, however, due to situations such as the passing of key individuals.
You are your dog’s boss, or master, or leader, or whatever else you want to call your rightful position as a human. You do have to make sure the dog understands this relationship dynamic and does as it’s told. You are the human who understands a world full of cars and chemicals and laws – things that can easily maim or kill the simple dog who totally relies on you to educate it on how to interact with a modern society.
Being an alpha dog is defined as being the highest ranking male or female animal in a social group. An alpha dog can usually be recognized by the submissive behavior of the other animals in the group towards it. In other words, the alpha gets the most sex, the best food, and the best place to sleep.
By extension, we thought that dogs also had similarly structured packs and would challenge each other for dominance. However, the current scientific consensus is that this was a mistaken belief. There are plenty of species of animal that do have social hierarchies where the strongest or most aggressive male rises to the top, such as gorillas and chimpanzees, but canids like wolves and dogs generally don’t operate like this.
Generally this means that it’s only appropriate to use punishment in response to disobedience, and not as a way of stopping problem behavior caused by negative feelings the dog is having. This means that you absolutely shouldn’t punish a dog for reacting aggressively to another dog, or for guarding its food, or whatever other problematic behaviors it has. Instead, using psychological methods to remedy behaviors like these is always more effective and always healthier for the dog’s brain in the long run.
Nowadays behaviorists and scientists no longer explain all of a dog’s behavioral problems away as issues with dominance. We recognize that their impulses and motivations are more complex and can be caused by insecurity, anxiety, stress, or lack of experience to name a few. We also understand that we can’t solve those behavioral problems just by being more dominant.
Dog Behavior. Alpha vs Submissive
Despite the fact that recent studies have reevaluated hierarchy models and have modified our understanding of behavior in the wild wolf, the concept of a hierarchal relationship among dogs and humans continues to be perpetuated. To ensure a well functioning family group, a family needs to know more about canine behavior than outdated strategies focusing on pack structure. In fact recent research has clearly indicated that the longstanding theory which maintained that alpha wolves control through aggression and relentless management is more myth than fact. These theories have been refuted by wolf biologists and if this theory is no longer considered true for wolves, then how can it be considered true for our dogs? New research on canine learning patterns indicates dogs understand us far better than we understand them.