About animals

Family hierarchy, or Who is the boss in the house?


Perhaps there are no animals in the world more dissimilar to each other than dogs. Why do we call the fluffy St. Bernard and the bald Chihuahua, the giant mountain dog and the tiny Yorkshire terrier the same word - "dogs"?


Today in the world there are several hundred breeds that differ significantly in terms of their exterior, physical qualities and mental properties. Such diversity could not be achieved by selection alone. To explain to himself why dogs are so different from each other, people came up with many theories. Thus, according to Keller’s theory, Spitz came from a jackal, a shepherd from an Indian wolf, greyhounds from an Ethiopian jackal, and Great Dane from a Tibetan wolf. Interesting. However, all these details of the pedigree in no way explain how Bobik guesses that Sharik is also a dog. The color is different, muzzle, ears, growth, too ... Maybe on the collar? Laughter laughs, but it turns out that domestic dogs really recognize each other by belonging to a person. But stray dogs do not recognize either people or their relatives with collars.


Human civilization is simply impossible to imagine without dogs. They are the only ones from all domestic animals that have mastered many completely human professions: hunter, watchman, shepherd, nurse, lifeguard, artist, nanny, guide, messenger, ranger. And they work not for pottage, not for fear, but for love. This is both amazing and captivating: the whole dog service-friendship is based on endless love and trust in a person, as if serving people is a kind of special dog mission.

The relationship between man and dog is by no means limited to official ones. The man is arranged in such a way that he is trying to create his own image and likeness from all around, and the dogs turned out to be ideal clay in human hands. If the owner needs a friend, the dog will be the most devoted disinterested friend. Need a servant - will serve, needs protection - will protect until the last gasp, need a toy - turn into a toy, you want a child - get a child.

A dog is always a continuation and reflection of a person. It can be used to judge the atmosphere in the family where she lives: in dysfunctional families, dogs develop neurosis in a more pronounced form than in humans. In addition, you yourself have probably noticed more than once: if a dog lives in a family for a long time, then it becomes ridiculously similar to the owner - a sort of lively caricature. If the head of the family is a mistress, bustling from morning to evening, fussiness appears in the dog’s manners. If the owner is evil, then the dog will bite everyone at the heels. Even the muzzle of the dogs accepts the expression of the dominant emotion in the family. Dogs owned by alcoholics often become their drinking buddies. That's what love brings to!


Dogs have been inseparable from humans for so long that it is doubtful that they were once wild. In fact, even the Australian dingoes, according to experts, are most likely not initially wild, but feral. And yet in nature, wild dogs are not uncommon.

Dog flocks live in forests, but more often in large cities. The number of street dogs depends only on the amount of food - garbage, trash, in this they compete with rats. Stray dogs do not exist for the first century. Once upon a time, their ancestors had masters.

Some biologists believe that, without a person who has been served by her ancestors for several millennia, the dog loses its life guidelines. Unable to fully return to the wild world, she turns into a marginal and does not know who the person is for her - friend or enemy. However, experts believe that in urban mongrels there is nothing to worry about. Most of these dogs somehow live with a person. In the markets, with garages, construction sites, bases. For that matter, it is the dogs that live in the apartments that are more unhealthy in mental terms. The apartment dogs are 300 years old and the yard dogs thousands.

The structure of the dog pack is quite complex and strictly hierarchical. It is in many ways similar to the structure of a wolf pack and a human one. At the head is a couple: the leader controls the male part of the flock, the bitch monitors the female. Usually only the main female starts the puppies, the rest only care for her offspring. So the animals themselves control their numbers.

The leader, of course, is the main one, but the dominant female, the most experienced of all, authoritative, strong, well-developed physically and mentally, chooses him. Only a woman can determine which of the men is the most talented, strong and decisive.

The leader is responsible for the selection of habitats, for obtaining food and protecting the flock from possible dangers. Depends on the relations of leaders of different packs, to be friends with their families or to fight.

The leader has a pre-emptive right to food and procreation, the right to control the actions of members of the pack, the right to establish social ranks and relations of members of the pack, the right to expel from the pack. However, the leader manages his rights at his own discretion: for example, he may assign the right to food to one of the members of the pack.

The older mother is most concerned with the offspring: she regulates the educational process - training, punishment, encouragement, play. She takes care of the weakest in case of danger. At the time of the attack on the flock, it takes everyone who needs protection to a safe place. The older mother can collaborate with the leader on the life support of the flock as a whole, and sometimes even take part in hostilities, but she does not make strategic decisions and does not command the pack. And only in the absence of a dog capable of taking on the duties of a leader, does the older mother begin to command the pack.


The next in rank are warriors, led by a senior warrior, helping the leader in organizing hunting, defense or attack. A warrior's rights include the right to food and procreation, but the warrior's right to make decisions is very limited.

Next come the guardians. They have the right to command puppies and young animals and are responsible for their education and training. In this rank, two subranks are distinguished: pestoons and direct guardians. Young females become pestoons. The duties of the pestun are not voluntary, but prescribed by the elders. Moreover, the fact of the birth of their own children does not yet transfer the young bitch from the rank of pestuns to the rank of mothers, for this transition, sufficient development is needed to make decisions in matters of survival.

A guardian is an adult single male who voluntarily helps pestoons in raising young people. The guardian does not make any decisions, even regarding puppies. Maybe advise.

Puppies have no obligations - complete rights to food and protection. They have even more rights to food than the leader (but less than lactating mothers).

Puppies have a transitional age at the 6th month of life, and not by itself, but by feeding pestoons, which are increasingly strict with adolescents. Puppies very quickly begin to understand the hierarchy of the pack.

Despite the harsh educational measures, a mentally healthy dog ​​never shows real aggression towards the puppy. Dependence on the mother persists in young wild dogs only until they can feed themselves, master the rules of hunting and behavior in the pack.

And the last rank that has rights is disabled. If this is an old warrior, a former leader or an older mother, if they have enough intelligence and experience, then they will act as an adviser for senior ranks. And in the event of an attack by a disabled person, the whole flock will protect. She will take care of his food.

A dog pack hierarchy is intelligent and natural. Sometimes the establishment of this hierarchy is associated with bloody showdowns, but more often the intraspecific aggression, which is harmful to the survival of the species, is replaced by a purely symbolic showdown: ritual poses, formidable roar and eloquent looks.

Each such flock has its own territory, which it carefully guards from aliens. But each individual member of the pack has its own personal territory: dogs can play together, hunt side by side, but it is better not to invade their personal territory during the rest.

As you can see, there is much more to human in dog relationships than in human ones. And so the dog has every chance to build a strong human ... flock. What she does is barely out of puppyhood. We think that we got a dog, but she believes that she has acquired people.

Pack laws

The second, often encountered mistake in the man-dog relationship is passivity and an overly loyal attitude towards one’s favorites.

By nature a dog flock animal. A flock lives according to the laws of hierarchy: some occupy a dominant position, others obey.

In the artificially created close flock of “man and dog” certain links will be preserved with a clear form of subordination, where the owner occupies the highest level on the hierarchical ladder ... or the dog.

Therefore, it would be a mistake to maintain the behavior of the dog, which would give it the illusion of its dominance in the house. Yielding to the dog’s whims, the owner makes the dog feel like the head of the family (= packs). At other times, he demands obedience from her, as if from a lower rank.

The mixing of roles prevents the dog from determining its place in the hierarchy of relations and becomes the first step to its problematic behavior: in an attempt to "strengthen" its dominant position, the dog resorts to aggression as one of the means of domination.

The family in which the dog is located is a kind of diverse social group, no matter how the owner perceives the dog, it behaves in this group in accordance with its laws.

Naturally, the “dog laws” are determined by the hereditary complex, which determines the potential development of various forms of behavior in the dog. For example, dogs with a stable internal “leader” complex happen to be actively trying to establish themselves in this status in the process of growing up.

Quite often this happens in large dogs and is manifested in the fact that as the puppy grows older, more and more often she “shows her teeth” and becomes more aggressive towards the owners.

Don't come close to me

If we consider the "anatomy" of such relationships, it turns out that dog aggression, as a rule, arises when an owner tries to restrict or prohibit it from any activity. For example, a dog plays with a stick, and you take it. Indulging in such "manifestations of character" of the animal, without establishing the necessary social boundaries, the owner provokes the manifestation of aggression.

Social boundaries for self-confident dogs with a leadership complex are sometimes necessary to establish when new members appear in a group (family). A person in the group will experience pressure from the dog (if the latter is given such an opportunity).

There are situations in which the dog, recognizing the unconditional leader of one of the family members, with others builds its relationship at its discretion.

Leadership behavior

"Leadership" behavior lies in those preemptive rights that the owner gives his dog. In a really existing pack, subordination usually affects mainly alimentary (food) and territorial spheres. The leader has certain advantages over the rest of the pack.

Traits of a leader dog:

  • eats slowly, as if tasting and not eating completely offered food. In the pack, the leader has the right to start eating first, while the rest of the pack watches him at a respectful distance. The slightest violation of these “boundaries” causes the leader’s discontented growl.
  • controls the movement of family members (= packs).
  • she chooses herself a place to sleep and rest.
    Dominant dogs prefer to position themselves in such a way as to be able to observe any movements of the owners. Any attempt by the owners not to let her, for example, into the room (closing the door), runs into direct (to the owner) or transferred (to the door) aggression.
  • while walking, the dog pulls strongly, rests, does not return to shout, or seeks to be the first to enter the door upon returning home - all this indicates the dog’s direct desire to control the situation.

To prevent unwanted behavior, the following rules should be established for the dog:

  1. Food: the dog eats separately from the owners and does not receive anything from the table. The dog is fed after the owners have eaten. This situation is normal and means for the dog only that the owners, as leaders, consume food first. The dog, occupying a lower step on the hierarchical ladder of the pack, is content with the second role, receiving food later.
  2. Promotions: the goodies are not given out at the request of the dog, but according to the decision of the owner. The owner gets an additional point in the eyes of the dog as a leader if he does not give in and abruptly pulls the dog when it urgently requires something. Encourage your dog for obedience.
  3. Territory: the dog has its own place. Access to foreign territory (chairs, sofas, beds) is prohibited. Teach your dog not to take your place as a puppy, ensure that the place is vacated by your order.

If the dog is already showing up propensity to dominate, add the following points to these rules:

  • When you pass through the door, the dog must follow you, do not let it pass first,
  • Do not caress the dog when she asks for it,
  • Be firm, do not give in to the dog in anything, the last word should remain with you.
  • Forbid putting your paws on you: this is one of the signs of dominance in dogs.
  • Prohibit the dog from biting while playing.

At the same time, the owner needs to be consistent in his prohibitions and permissions, so that the dog clearly understands what it can and should not do.

Doggie Rank Card

Four hundred officially recognized breeds and probably about the same number of unrecognized ones - the variety of the species, which is called Canis lupus familiaris in Latin, is amazing. But despite significant exterior and behavioral differences, all dogs were once domesticated and then selected by humans. At the same time, they did not lose the species perception of the world through the prism of the pack hierarchy.

Stray dogs in the city live by the laws of the pack

Pack Roles

Many of us too humanize our pets and thus make a serious mistake, creating problems for ourselves and our pet. To learn how to live with a dog in mutual comfort, you will have to understand and accept its pictures of the surrounding reality.

In fact, everything is very simple. The close environment in which your dog lives is perceived by him as his pack. But how it distributes the main and secondary roles depends on the person - only he has the right to be the director of this action. And only one option can be considered acceptable: the dog should take the bottom step in the family hierarchy, become the youngest member of your pack. Any other relationship is wrong, and in some cases very dangerous.

Of course, a huge wolfhound, imagining himself a leader or at least equal to the owner, can do much more trouble than a one and a half kilogram bag "good" - but the rules are the rules, and they are unchanged for any breed of dog. Moreover, the world is by no means limited to the scope of its flock - it is much larger, more complex, and your pet should adequately behave in any situation.

To better understand dog psychology, we compare it with the relationships of the closest wild relatives - wolves. You should not look for direct matches here, because for many millennia of life next to a man, dogs managed not only to accept the new rules of the game, but also to fix them at the genetic level. These are domestic animals, which in many ways radically differ from their wild ancestors.

And yet - how is the wolf pack built and by what laws? The leader leads it, and this is not necessarily the old wise Akela, familiar to us from a children's fairy tale. At the top of the hierarchical ladder is an alpha pair, followed by a beta step and so on in the Greek alphabet. At the lower omega level are the disenfranchised and defenseless wolf cubs, which the whole flock takes care of. Old people have the right to live in the family - they are not killed or deprived.

The rules of a wolf pack are very different from a dog’s

Conflicts within the flock are unacceptable, and roles are clearly distributed, although they can change if necessary. There are warriors and signalmen, mothers and nannies here, but the life of the pack depends on the leader, so obedience to him is unquestioning. Power is received not by the strongest and most evil, but by the most intelligent and skillful - these skills are more important for the family to survive in the wild.

Stray dogs

Left without human care, dogs are also forced to survive independently in the urban "jungle". They very quickly run wild and get stuck in flocks - this happens not so much from a specific “habit”, but from reasons of expediency. Such a pack, unlike a wolf, is formed mainly not by the fact of birth, it is most often a temporary organized group, and there is much more lawlessness and audacity here than among wolves.

Stray dogs are not afraid of a person, they can show aggression towards him and even attack someone who is considered weak. There is no taboo for them: an old man, for example, or a child - there is, above all, protection of the territory that they consider their own, especially if their food supply is located here. Such a pack, led by an ambitious or aggressive leader and consisting of several large individuals, can pose a serious danger to any competitors without dividing them into other people's dogs and people.

The leader in feral dogs is determined by the law of power

Of course, things rarely go to extremes, and yet feral dog packs are a problem in many modern cities. Inside such groups there is no humanity whatsoever: the leader’s place and other higher steps are won by force, old people and weaklings are not favored, and cubs are often simply eaten during hungry periods.

At pets

Flocking relationships with their own kind are formed in any house where there is not one, but at least two or more dogs. This problem is especially relevant for nurseries, in which up to several dozen individuals can live. Experienced dog handlers are well aware of how important it is to pay attention to ensure that these relationships develop conflict-free - even when it comes to funny crumbs of decorative breeds.

Toy Yorkies can become angry and aggressive

Nice looks are deceiving. The familiar breeder, who, among other breeds, is engaged in breeding Yorkies, has repeatedly complained about how aggressive and cruel these charming girls are. Once her oversight even turned into a tragedy: three dogs mated in a fight, one was killed, the others were crippled. Not surprisingly, these glamorous babies are real terriers, and the breed was originally bred for catching rats, which suggested that the dogs had a very serious character.
Oddly enough, in larger breeds, dog fights rarely end in killing, but in bitches, conflicts are much more severe. It is no coincidence that there is a saying among dog lovers: males fight to the first blood, and bitches to death. This, unfortunately, is true. I am the head of the kennel of Russian black terriers, and at the dawn of this activity, I repent, it happened out of inexperience that I came across dog fights and separated the fights.

A dog fight is still a show with a terrible roar, standing on its hind legs and so on. They fought, showed off - and after half an hour peacefully doze on the rug almost in an embrace. And the bitches. they fight to kill each other, and will do so - if you allow.

Do not believe the popular belief that you should not interfere and let the dogs sort things out. This is bad advice.

Once, a very long time ago, I listened to him and almost lost a dog.

No one in the pack has the right to conflict if you are the real leader of this dog pride. So, and only in this way the relations of the owner with the pets should be built.

Relationship with man

Raising a dog should begin from the day the puppy appears in your house, regardless of age or breed. The kid must learn the rules of life in a new family, and, accordingly, and determine his place in the pack. Children's age is the best time to receive and comprehend such information, and the owner's task is to correctly present it to the pet.

Group activities contribute to the socialization of the dog

More substantive trainings should be correlated with the breed characteristics of your dog and what you want to teach her as a result. A general training course is required for everyone - this is an axiom. In the vast majority of cases, group trainings are more useful than individual ones - in addition to specific skills, the dog will receive both socialization and the experience of proper communication in a spontaneous pack, and this is very important.

And most importantly - the owner himself should deal with the dog, personally, and not give the pet to learn, even to the best instructor. Remember the most important rule: the leader of the dog does not recognize the one who feeds or caresses her, but the one who trains her. If you want to become an authority for your dog - do not take the time to educate him.

A good trainer does not teach a dog - he teaches the owner to find a common language and build relationships with the pet. Take care of your dog, communicate with it, educate it - let peace and mutual understanding always exist in your home pack.