They have lived with humans for over 20,000 years; they are engrained into our society and traditions with a deep bond that connects us in a very special way. Wolves were first attracted to humans through a mutual need for food and protection. Humans benefited from the Wolves sensitive hearing and smell and the Wolf got an easy meal.
Wolves also live in family groups (packs) which helped to ignite a mutual appreciation of each species, both cared for their young and nurtured them and looked after other family members.
This relationship is still as strong as ever though humans have less need for the protection of a dog (wolf) they still have a unique connection with them, they are seen as companions and family members instead of having a specific job to do.
The main problem with this is that the dog still believes that it has a job to do; they are still living with their instinct which tells them to look after the family (pack). We forgot to tell the dogs that they don’t need to worry about that anymore.
Domestic dogs have been proven to descend from wolves, they are still thinking like a wolf but in dogs clothing. Domestic dogs still have a pack, all be it a human pack. All dogs believe that there must be a leader/s of the pack that they live in. This stems from their heritage living as wolves, it works for them—an Alpha male and female makes all the important decisions, when to eat, when to hunt, how to react to danger and how to maintain pack hierarchy with the pack members. If a dog is not getting this information from a human pack member it will take on the leadership (Alpha) role its self.
This can be a disaster for the dog; they do not always understand our world or us! This causes confusion and stress for the dog which can displayed in the following behaviours—fussy eater, barking, aggression, pulling on the lead, nervousness and many more.
So next time you look at your dog take a moment to think are you communicating good leadership in a way that the dog understands?
Words by Joanna Meek