Are dogs pack animals or are they not?

For years I’ve learned that dogs are pack animals. But some time back I chance upon a heated debate about this topic.

I just had to do research and find out more, because this heated debate somehow got my curiosity. I’m predicting that it’ll be a debate here too. But whatever the case is, this is my point of view and my opinion. It’s just me, one person’s view, but all opinions are welcome.

Of course, one very popular pack leader method in this current generation is taught by Ceser Millan. Well, I do adapt some of his methods when correcting dogs, and many others I develop along the way according to my personality and character. I do agree with Ceser Millan’s methods, but I do not agree that viewers should follow, as stated in every episode “Do not attempt the techniques you are about to see without consulting a professional.”

On the other hand, I’ve been reading many articles and watching many videos about research done by dog physiologist, trainers, veterinarians and researches – trying to find the answer if dogs are pack animals. Many of which I found to be fascinating, not in a good way that is. Many of the research done was only with a couple of dogs, nothing reaching up to 30 or 40 dogs. And some study was also done on dogs that survive the floods around the world. Many of which actually came to a conclusion that dogs are not pack animals, they might have descended down from wolves but they’ve evolved into domesticated dogs that changes their pack instincts. Many arguments was made about past researches done on wolves and dogs, stating that they are alike and they both have pack instincts. Who’s right, who’s wrong???

There was a research that I read some months back that 20 dogs was put together, but they did not form a pack. All of these research was done only on dogs – meaning, they were waiting for one dog to take the leadership position and lead the pack. That did not happen of course. There wasn’t a research done on a human leading a pack of dogs. The only proof I’ve found to be real and alive is Ceser Millan’s pack.

I begin to prob further into dingoes as well – they show almost similar attributes to dogs and wolves; almost! Dingoes travel alone or in packs. When they travel in packs, the pack leader will be a stable dingo and the whole pack is stable as well. When dingoes gather in packs, it’s usually between 3-12. Though it was not stated why there are dingoes that travel alone, but in my own opinion, I think those that travel alone are not stable enough.

In the same way, in my opinion; I believe that all the study done to observe if dogs are pack animals lead me to one conclusion – there isn’t a stable dog among the pack to be a leader, and chances are, most of them aren’t stable as well.

Some of the studies was made on dogs that survive the various floods in various countries. And their studies shown that; all the dogs gathered together only for a short period of time, mainly to find food, and they go their own separate ways. Their conclusion is; dogs are not or no more pack animals because they have evolve due to domestic living.

So now the big question; are dogs pack animals or have they evolve?

In my opinion, all dogs still carry the pack instinct; however, because they have evolve towards being domestic or working dogs; they can’t take a role of a pack leader – however stable they can be, they need humans to lead. The simplest example which has already been aired around the world is Ceser Millan’s pack. As much as I try to avoid mentioning him too often, but I can’t deny the fact that he showed to the world that we humans have to be the pack leader to our canines. He teaches pack leadership, as well as he shows it right in his own facility. There’s no arguments about it that dogs still carry the pack instinct in them, and I truly believe that no matter how much nature can evolve, an animal instinct will stick with them for life. This is a part of God’s created nature that nothing can change it. Just like human’s instinct is to survive; so we work our butts off.

I shall stop here and not go further with the topic on instincts. May be I’ll write that in my next article.

Ezra Koh

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