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Are Dogs Pack Animals? Social Structure of Dogs & FAQ

Written by: Patricia Dickson

Last Updated on April 26, 2024 by Dogster Team

australian shepherd dogs on log

Are Dogs Pack Animals? Social Structure of Dogs & FAQ

The debate over whether dogs are pack animals has raged for quite some time. However, the consensus is that they are. While most of today’s dogs are domesticated and live in homes as pets, they are still ancestors of the wolf and therefore are considered to be pack animals.

Even though dogs have been domesticated for thousands of years, they are still wired to behave like their ancestors, which means they are still pack animals in the social structure of things.

We’ll answer these questions and more in the blog below, so join us.

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Why Are Dogs Considered to Be Pack Animals?

Your dog and all dogs are considered pack animals because of their ancestry. If you’ve ever noticed, when you’re out for a walk with your dog, if they see a pack of dogs, they go and try to join that pack.

It is pretty easy for dogs to form packs, and their socialization makes them fit in easily. You’ve probably noticed already that dogs get along in groups, just from walks in the dog park or gathering with friends who have dogs.

This is also why dogs bond so quickly with their owners. They see you as part of their pack and stay with you for protection, survival, and affection. It’s a dog’s instinct to join a pack, whether dogs or humans.

three short-coated brown black white dogs in the sun with leather leash
Image By: Spencer Davis, Unsplash

Does My Dog Think It’s in a Pack?

A pack, by definition, is a group of animals that depend on one another to survive. A pack is made up of a breeding couple that ends up forming a family. This couple becomes the alpha pair and raises their pups until they go out on their own and form their own packs.

Since dogs are domesticated today, you don’t often see a breeding couple forming a pack to hunt for survival. Instead, dogs that have humans to take care of them see them as a pack and the source of their survival. The dog’s pack-like instincts tell them they need to get comfortable and stay with this family.

Showing a connection, being affectionate, and even being protective is a part of being in a pack and is something that dogs sense in their human families. So yes, your dog may think that you’re its pack.

What Is Considered to be the Alpha Dog Breed?

Some dog breeds are more alpha than others. An alpha dog breed is a term for breeds of dogs that tend to assert their dominance over other dogs. These breeds command other dogs, and sometimes even their owners, to get their way.

These are also breeds that you need to be careful with when owning. They need to be trained and socialized early in their lives to behave and be taught that they are not the alpha or the boss of the people who own them.

These dog breeds include the Rottweiler, American Pit Bull Terrier, Akita, German Shepherd, Doberman Pincher, Husky, and Bull Mastiff. This isn’t to say that these dogs can’t be trained and socialized; they need a firm hand to keep them in line in many cases. These breeds need to be taught from puppies that you’re the alpha of the home so that they don’t challenge your dominance.

Trust us, and you’ll have a much more organized, peaceful, and happy home if you teach them this command as soon as you adopt one.

group of dogs in the park
Image By: Aneta Jungerova, Shutterstock

Does My Dog Think I’m the Pack Leader?

Some dogs see their owners as pack leaders, but that’s usually determined by how you act with your pet. Dogs sense fear, submission, and dominance as with any other animal. If you want your dog to know you’re in charge, you need to set rules initially. If your dog thinks it can get by with something, it will, so it’s up to you to ensure the dog knows that it can’t.

While your dog might think you’re the pack leader, they will do everything they can to protect you, your family, and your property should the need arise. Make sure you train and socialize your dog to know the difference between friends, family, friendly strangers, and intruders for the best results. Sometimes, professional training is needed to accomplish this, especially with troublesome breeds.

Would a Wolf Pack Accept a Dog?

In most cases, a wolf pack will not accept a dog into its group. Even though they share DNA, there are just too many differences for the wolf to accept the dog into their midst. Wolves are highly territorial and will probably attack the dog instead of welcoming it.

Dogs are pack animals, but that doesn’t mean that they would do well in a dog pack, especially a pack of wolves. It’s best to keep your domesticated dog close, especially if you live somewhere where wolves are prevalent.

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Wrap Up

Dogs are considered to be pack animals, with some breeds more than others. If you have one of the breeds listed above, you do need to be careful to train and socialize the dog early on to ensure it doesn’t think it’s your boss instead of you being the alpha.

Dogs do consider their human families to be their packs and will do what they can to protect the family. With some breeds, training is key to ensuring they act the way they should and listen to you when you speak or give them a command.

Featured Image Credit: Alexandra Morrison Photo, Shutterstock

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