Animal Information

How is the “Top Dog” or “Alpha Male” Chosen in a Dog Pack?

Dog Pack Leaders, a.k.a. the alpha dog

Pride of the pack

Dogs ?r? pack animals ?nd wh?th?r th?? ?r? ?n th? wild w?th ? group ?f dogs ?r th?? ?r? ?n ??ur family, th?? ??? those around them ?? th??r pack.  They have an inate, natural instinct telling th?m t? establish th??r position ?n th? hierarchy ?f th? pack. Just like kids on recess in Middle School, there is the playground politics, where the players determine who is who and what is what. Who is open for friendship and who is the “mean girl or tough boy” to be feared.

In ? pack as well as a playground, th?r? ?? ? well-defined social structure wh?r? ?v?r? member kn?w? h?? ?r h?r role ?nd position. Th?? basically means, fr?m th? pack leader d?wn thr?ugh th? followers, ?v?r? member kn?w? wh? h? takes orders fr?m ?nd wh? h? g?v?? orders to. Once again, this stresses the Animal Human Connection and how more alike than different we are.


How the top dog is chosen

Wh?n ??u ??? tw? dogs meeting f?r th? f?r?t time, th?? size ???h ?th?r u? t? ??? wh??h ?n? ?? m?r? dominant ?r th? top dog ?nd subsequently th? submissive ?n? w?ll adopt ? submissive posture ?u?h ?? lying d?wn ?r showing h?? belly t? th? top dog.

If th? tw? dogs ??n??d?r th?m??lv?? equals th?r? ?? u?u?ll? ? l?ttl? tussle unt?l ?n? ??m?? ?ut ?n top by remaining firm in the stance. After the other dog backs down or leaves the immediate area the outcome of the tussle w?ll determine ?ll ?f th??r future meetings. If ??u ?wn m?r? th?n ?n? dog ??u mu?t respect th?? hierarchy b?tw??n th? dogs ?r regular fighting m?? occur.

Th?? generally means, ?n?? th? dogs h?v? established wh??h ?f th? tw? ?r? dominant, ??u ?h?uld feed h?m f?r?t ?t? ?nd ??u w?ll find ??ur dogs d? n?t fight anymore b???u?? th? top ?r dominant ?n? d??? n?t feel h? h?? t? put th? ?th?r ?n? ?n ?t? place.

H?w D??? A Top ?r Dominant Dog Behave?

If th? dominance ?f th? senior dog ?? challenged, ?t w?ll perform ? threat display ?n ?n attempt t? subdue th? upstart w?th?ut h?v?ng t? resort t? force. Essentially th? threat display d??? tw? things. It w?ll m?k? th? dominant animal ?????r larger ?nd stronger ?nd ?t demonstrates th? animals eagerness t? plunge straight ?nt? ?n attack ?h?uld ?n attack b? necessary. Th?? ?? u?u?ll? ?n?ugh t? scare ?ff ?n? rival.


What is a threat display?

Th? threat display ?? m?d? u? ?f ten characteristic elements, ???h ?f wh??h contributes ?t? special signal t? th? enemy:

1.Th? teeth ?r? bared b? pulling th? upper lip u? ?nd th? l?w?r lip down. Th?? exposes th? canines ?nd th? incisors, ?nd ?nd???t?? th?t th? threatening animal ?? ready t? sink ?t? fangs ?nt? th? enemy.

2.Th? mouth ?? open, showing th?t th? dog ?? ready t? clamp d?wn w?th ?t? jaws.

  1. Th? mouth-corners ?r? drawn forward. Th?? ?? th? ??????t? ?f th? friendly, playful ?nd submissive facial expressions, ?n ?ll ?f wh??h th? mouth-corners ?r? pulled b??k t?w?rd? th? ears. Th?? element ?f th? threat display m?k?? ?t clear th?t th? dog ?? n??th?r friendly, n?r playful, n?r submissive.
  2. Th? ears ?r? erect ?nd forward-pointing. Ev?n ?n flop- eared breeds th?r? ?? ? brave attempt t? assume th?? position, wh??h tells th? enemy th?t th? dog ?? fully alert ?nd listening intently f?r ?n? tell-tale sound ?f fear ?r aggression. It ?l?? demonstrates th?t th? aggressor ?? ?? confident th?t ?t feels n? n??d t? protect th? ears b? flattening them.
  3. Th? tail ?? held high, ?n contrast t? th? submissive tail-between-the-legs posture. Th?? tail-up posture exposes th? anal region w?th ?t? special odors. Th??? scents identify th? dog (while th? tail-down dog tr??? t? hide ?t? identity). Th?? l?t th? weaker animal kn?w precisely wh? ?t ?? dealing with.
  4. At th? ??m? time, legs ?r? fully stretched ?nd th? wh?l? body suddenly ???m? awesomely m?r? massive ?nd powerful.
  5. Th? effect ?? heightened by ?n intense, unwavering stare.
  6. A deep rumbling growl ?? uttered.
  7. Th? body ?? ?? tense th?t th? tail trembles, ?n ?t? bolt-upright position.

Th?? fearsome sight ?? ?n?ugh t? m?k? m??t rivals cringe ?nd slink away. It ?? u??d ?n ??r??u? confrontations wh?r? th? dominant animal feels th?r? ?? ? real challenge t? ?t? high status. At ?th?r times, wh?n th? mood ?? m?r? relaxed, ? dominant dog m?? offer occasional reminders ?f ?t? power, u??ng ?th?r types ?f display. On? ?? th? broadside ritual ?n wh??h ?t deliberately pushes ?t??lf u? ?g??n?t ? weaker dog, wh??h m?? b? standing ?r lying down.

Th? top dog positions ?t??lf ??r??? th? subordinate, ?? ?f tr??ng t? block ?t? path, ?nd stiffly remains th?r? long ?n?ugh t? give th? message 'I control ??ur movements.' Alternatively, ?t m?? perform th? mounting ritual, ?n wh??h ?t rears u? ?nd places ?t? front legs ?n th? lesser animal's b??k ?r shoulders. Th?? ?? th? f?r?t move t?w?rd? mounting f?r copulation, but ?t ?? u??d h?r? ?n ? totally non-sexual context.


Amazing Animal Information

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Judy Helm Wright is a certified Pet Grief Coach and wise intuitive woman who has authored over 20 books and hundreds of articles about life lessons.  Want to see some of the books?  Of course you do…go to

PS:  We consider you a "Top Dog" in our pack, so join us today in a community of kind, thoughtful people who want respect for all creatures.  It is a Win-Win-Win  When you join, you win by hanging with some of the greatest people in the world, NOKILL shelters win because we donate $1 for each subscriber and We win by building a relationship with like-minded people, like you.

PSS:  Thanks for loving animals and pets. You do an important work in the world.


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