Dominance Behavior in Canids
I didn’t really even WANT to make a post about this.
The alpha-beta-omega model of wolf packs is dead in scientific literature, hammered into the ground, so to speak, and it’s been dead for over ten years. So why am I still hearing about it on TV and reading about it in articles? Why are popular dog trainers that encourage you to “be the alpha” still taken seriously?
I think the unfortunate truth is that the idea that there are strong and ferocious leaders in wolf packs and that you, too, can take on that role with your dog is just somehow appealing to people. Almost romantic, in the older sense of the word. And because of this, it makes money. It sells werewolf media. It sells dog training classes. Educational science channels that have no business promoting this false ideology keep it on board because it gets people watching.
If you couldn’t tell, I’m pretty fed up with the whole thing.
Okay, let’s talk about dominance, particularly what the word even means, because popular media does a terrible job of explaining it.
tl:dr ~ The concept of “alpha” wolves leading a pack in the wild is outdated—it is now generally recognized among biologists (but clearly not the general public) that wolves live in family units, composed of parents of offspring, as opposed to unrelated members constantly vying for dominance. The alpha concept does apply in captivity, where members of the pack are often unrelated, but NOT in the wild!!
As someone with an interest in wolves, I want to help debunk myths when the opportunity presents itself, and the alpha concept is definitely one of the prevailing misconceptions within wolf biology. This article provides a good overview.
such a look of anger, but not admiting defeat.