Have you watched The Call of the Wild? It’s a movie based on a 1903 novel of the same name about Buck, a generous yet powerful dog that ends up in Yukon, Canada’s westernmost territory. He has to work with a group of other dogs to pull sledges. I won’t spoil what’s in the movie, but after watching the movie, a thought hit: Do dogs always need a pack leader? What about those dogs that are kept as pets? Who is their pack leader?

Dogs look for collective strength in packs, and the pack cannot be without a leader. Packs are several individuals banding together to increase their chances of survival in the wild. These packs have a leader called the pack leader.

Before domestication, the strongest dog in the pack, who was able to provide and care for the whole pack and keep it going, played the role of the pack leader. After domestication, it’s dog owners who take care of all the needs of their canine friends. But do dogs see their owners as pack leaders or even a part of the pack?

Do Dogs See Their Owners as Pack Leaders?

Yes – and no. Though it is true that dogs – being descendants of wolves – have a pack mentality and thus tend to choose an alpha dog to lead them, it is not necessarily the case when they interact with human beings. It is, in fact, the matter of dogs recognizing their owner as a part of a canine pack in the first place. Some dog experts and studies say that dogs do admit people into their packs, while others contend that pack membership is only limited to their own folk.

Mainly, a dog giving in to the mastery of its owner depends upon the latter’s manifestation of leadership, control, and charge, especially if the dog is stubborn, such as the Bo-Chi. Likewise, if a dog lives with other pet dogs, there is a fair chance that he might choose a canine pal as the pack leader, and the leadership of the owners will be in danger.

Image JenniGut from Pixabay

Becoming a Pack Leader in the Sight of a Dog

Dogs seek a stable environment, which is possible through a hierarchical order. Not knowing whom to follow, dogs may experience certain behavioral issues. This is where you have to come in and assume the role of the pack leader. Even if your dog does not fully recognize you as a pack leader, he will surely have a special place for you in his heart, forming a close bond with you.

By being authoritative, you might feel a bit guilty. However, remember that there is nothing wrong with it – it is natural for dogs to choose a leader and then obey and respect them. They feel safe knowing that there is a strong leader to take care of them. If you think your dog does not recognize you as a pack leader, here is how you can ensure you are the lead.

1. Be Ahead of Your Dog

Whenever you take your dog for a walk, never let him lead. Instead, show him that he is your subordinate and bound to follow you. It will not harm the relationship at all but only enhance your superiority. By not allowing your furry pal to roam freely, you are making the message clear: ‘I am the boss.’

2. Do Not Bring Your Dog at Par With You

The key to achieving pack leadership is to maintain a hierarchy. For instance, never keep your dog with you in the same room and furnish another living space for him. Similarly, you should discourage him whenever he lies down with you on the same bed or sofa. You should train your dog to leave the room and get off the furniture with simple words such as ‘go.’

But this should not happen always. Dogs are one of the most loyal animals and need love from their owners. You might need to establish a hierarchy only in the beginning, but once your dog accustoms to it, you can bring him at par with you—let him sleep with you on the same sofa and so on.  

3. No Mounting

Mounting behavior is not always sexual: it is also a tool used by canines to show their dominance and excitement. If your doggy does it with you, push him away instantly. To decrease the chances of such an occurrence, get your dog neutered.

4. Do Not Take Dictations

Remember, if you are the pack leader, you should not take dictation from your dog. Hence, if he barks at you for treats or to play, never concede the demands. Rather, stick to the schedule and resist the temptations to fall for the doggie face that your dog makes when asking for treats.  

5. Stay Calm and Be Supportive

You must express your authority but emphatically. You don’t want to take out the element of love from your relationship with your doggo. You should never be assertive to the point where you become rude. Always be patient and gentle, and use positive reinforcements such as treats whenever your dog does a great job.

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Signs That a Dog Sees His Owner as Pack Leader

The progress of a dog owner in becoming a real alpha is, fortunately, gaugeable. When a canine comes across the fact that his social needs are being fulfilled, he gradually begins surrendering to mastery with visible changes in demeanor.

1. You Are the Cynosure

The pack leader is the center of attention in the canine world. If your dog starts following you and stays with you even if you are making him bored – know that you have assumed the highest title you can expect from your furry pal.

2. You First, Please!

When your dog makes you alpha, you no longer have to assert that you are the top priority for him in all circumstances. Your pack buddy will know that only you lead. Even when passing through a door, he will sit beside it and let you go first. That is not all: he will look forward to you even during difficult moments.

3. You Will Be Showered With Dog Love

Do dogs see their owners as pack leaders

Being social animals, dogs love showing affection to the people they admire. And whom can they love more than those who complete their social hierarchy, offer food, spend time, and require love and affection? If your dog is overwhelming you with cuddles and smooches, you have become the pack leader.

4. Your Dog Behaves Civilized While Eating

Letting the alpha start off eating is the custom in the canine world. If you share your human food with your dog, he will gradually become respectful to the point that he never begins eating until you have taken the first bite. Besides, he will give up stealing the food and being impatient for mealtime.

Dog staring at food:

Do dogs see their owners as pack leaders

5. The Best Comfort Goes to You

Dogs have the tendency to let the alpha have the best spot when it comes to sitting, even if they have already marked it as their exclusive territory. Though the spot might be occupied by your pooch when you are not around, it will be vacated immediately when you come nearby.

6. Reduced Eye Contact

Alphas in the canine world are known to intimidate betas and omegas through their long-lasting eye contact. But when the alpha title is assumed by you, such intensive eye-contact moments with your dog would not occur anymore. Your dog will know that making intense eye contact is not respectful, so he will turn his gaze down in respect whenever you give him a stare. This could work wonders in instantly disciplining your dog—you will just have to give your dog a stare, and he will know if you approve of his action or not.

7. He Is Calm and Composed Around You

Pack leaders are a sign of tranquility in the canine world. If dogs accept the alpha nature of someone, they trust him almost blindly. If your dog accepts you as his pack leader, he will no longer be resentful of you. He will not refuse inoculations, he will not whine for food, and he will not bark on someone you do not want him to.

Conclusion: Do Dogs See Their Owners as Pack Leaders?

Yes, provided a dog sees his owner as a part of the pack first. Once granted a space in the family, dog owners also need to act like alpha by showing their dominance in all matters whenever they interact with their pooches. Eventually, dogs start seeing their owners as their pack leaders.

Although it may look a bit discriminating towards animals, dogs without an authoritative figure in their social settings face behavioral problems which are neither good for themselves nor their owners.

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