Pet owners typically envision themselves as the “alphas” of their households. It’s clear even for those of us who don’t engage in much dog training that as the human being, our dogs look to us as the overall leaders, responsible for their food, shelter, love and protection. However, do dogs also establish a household hierarchy that is specific to their species , similar in structure to the grey wolf?
Dog On Point
Researchers at Oxford University designed an experiment to address just this question. By attaching GPS units to dogs taking off-leash walks, Dr. Nagy and his colleages monitored the movement of several Visla volunteers for 30-40 min. romps. They learned that on average, a single dog in the group would lead the others 75% of the time. The study also showed a correlation between a dog’s ability to control pack direction and other specific attributes, mainly high levels of trainability, aggression, and willingness to submit to human trainers.
Studying pack behavior with GPS is important because it could lead to a stronger, faster selection process for certain service dogs. Dogs that would qualify as pack leaders might be optimal candidates for protection, military, or search and rescue work. It’s interesting that the study showed that dogs maintaining pack leadership among the dogs were the most obedient and submissive to human handlers.
An AKC Event – The Golden Gate Kennel Club Dog Show
Staff at Premier Pet Relocation had the opportunity to attend an AKC show on Saturday and Sunday in the San Francisco Bay Area. There were a plethora of beautiful dogs to say the least, competing in obedience and confirmation events. The event was held at the Cow Palace in Daly City, seemingly a success marked by lots of product vendors and attendees. Aside from the arena that housed the judged events, there was booth space circling the arena that included product retail stores such as Pet Club and rescue organizations like the ASPCA.
While walking the event, one dog in particular caught our attention. After navigating the small crowd around him, we were face to face with Bautista, an all black Staffordshire Bull Terrier. He looked to be approximately 14 inches tall at the withers, but he had a big personality and was definitely a pack leader, evident by the upright chest and the occasional lunge for another male dog.
Congratulations to all of the winners... the show's list can be seen here.