Pack behavior . . . dependent upon breed?

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Postby SisMorphine » March 13th, 2009, 5:27 pm

A discussion with a friend from last week, that carried over into today, really got me thinking so I'll pose a question and then type my response later:

Do you think that pack behavior, or pack drive, is dependent upon breed?
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Postby Mickle » March 13th, 2009, 7:27 pm

Probably more so individual dogs but certain breeds being more prone to show pack drive than others.
Good question, im very interested in seeing where this goes!
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Postby BullyLady » March 13th, 2009, 8:44 pm

Well, some breeds are more aloof than others, some breeds (like our pitties) have dog aggression as an accepted breed trait, but in the ends dogs are pack animals and I think that when pack mentality kicks in all breeds are probably created equal as far as pack behavior goes. Just my minimally educated guess.

BTW that statement used the word "pack" entirely too many times. lol
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Postby BritneyP » March 13th, 2009, 8:54 pm

I agree with Cathleen. :D
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Postby katiek0417 » March 13th, 2009, 9:56 pm

All breeds, no matter their purpose now, or the individual traits in those breeds go back to wolves...and wolves are instinctually pack animals...so, personally, yes I feel like they are all pack animals - regardless of breed...
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Postby DemoDick » March 13th, 2009, 10:31 pm

As an aside, I think that pack drive is the most chronically underutilized aspect in breeding working dogs. A dog with high pack drive is MUCH easier to train versus an aloof dog.

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Postby BritneyP » March 13th, 2009, 11:20 pm

DemoDick wrote:As an aside, I think that pack drive is the most chronically underutilized aspect in breeding working dogs. A dog with high pack drive is MUCH easier to train versus an aloof dog.

Demo Dick


I concur.
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Postby katiek0417 » March 13th, 2009, 11:58 pm

DemoDick wrote:As an aside, I think that pack drive is the most chronically underutilized aspect in breeding working dogs. A dog with high pack drive is MUCH easier to train versus an aloof dog.

Demo Dick


100% agreed
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Postby KJS » March 14th, 2009, 3:55 am

Also aside ...I see a lot of pack behaviour in children ...especially teens...I often wonder if you could channel them correctly as a pack instead of focusing on the indevidual be it the pack leader or the submissives then could you get better results from them?...or have them acting better in the streets?
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Postby Mickle » March 14th, 2009, 7:57 am

Mickle wrote:Probably more so individual dogs but certain breeds being more prone to show pack drive than others.
Good question, im very interested in seeing where this goes!


I should change that to higher pack drives than others.
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » March 14th, 2009, 9:01 am

I would think that dogs that are bred to work with humans and/or other dogs (some herding dogs, maybe?) would have a higher pack drive than dogs that were bred to wander properties, guard homes and work independently, like maybe mastiffs.

But I'm sure it's something that can be encouraged in any breed.
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Postby mnp13 » March 14th, 2009, 11:43 am

I think it does depend on breed to an extent. For example - hounds are bred specifically to hunt in packs. Even in high drive situations, they focus on the prey and don't redirect on each other. I don't think the same can be said for all breeds.

It think all breeds have it, but we have enhanced it in the development of certain breeds and repressed it in others.
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Postby katiek0417 » March 14th, 2009, 1:36 pm

I was talking to Greg about this earlier...and one thing we talked about is the fact that dogs don't have to be around other dogs to be in a pack...even when a family owns one dog, the dog can treat members of the human family as their pack...
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Postby DemoDick » March 14th, 2009, 10:00 pm

katiek0417 wrote:I was talking to Greg about this earlier...and one thing we talked about is the fact that dogs don't have to be around other dogs to be in a pack...even when a family owns one dog, the dog can treat members of the human family as their pack...


That is exactly what I mean when I use the term "pack drive". I see it as the level of willingness a dog has to integrate into a human family. A dog with a high affinity to bond with other dogs is just doggy, and that's not what I look for, as I don't work multiple dogs at once and rely on the dog's bond with me to accomplish trust.

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Postby katiek0417 » March 14th, 2009, 10:10 pm

DemoDick wrote:
katiek0417 wrote:I was talking to Greg about this earlier...and one thing we talked about is the fact that dogs don't have to be around other dogs to be in a pack...even when a family owns one dog, the dog can treat members of the human family as their pack...


That is exactly what I mean when I use the term "pack drive". I see it as the level of willingness a dog has to integrate into a human family. A dog with a high affinity to bond with other dogs is just doggy, and that's not what I look for, as I don't work multiple dogs at once and rely on the dog's bond with me to accomplish trust.

Demo Dick


I don't disagree, Demo...my post wasn't directed towards you...it was more directed towards the idea that there are people that claim that DA dogs (and I'm not pointing fingers at pits specifically, I'm talking about ANY DA dog) aren't pack oriented....
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Postby SisMorphine » March 16th, 2009, 8:20 am

Sorry it took me so long to get back to this thread! Busy weekend. I now have so much more to say, let me see if I can make some sort of sense.

First off I don't believe that the human members of a dog's family count as it's pack. Humans and dogs are very different in how we act and relate to each other. We don't correct dogs by snarling and grabbing at their necks, nor do we assert our dominance by chasing them away from food or throwing our heads over their shoulders. So though humans may be a pseudo-pack of sorts, it's not the type of pack drive I'm talking about.

Now I believe that a dog's abilities to have social cues/behaviors is DIFFERENT from the idea of pack drive. Both of my dogs understand social nuances. They have the steps of warning in between getting ticked off and actually biting. Now whether that is due to the loads of socialization they have had more so than their instincts, I do not know. But either way, they have the social canine behaviors.

Now when Wally was in the house, whether it was just Wally and Teeny, or Wally and the fosters or Wally and friend's dogs, there was A LOT of pack behavior going on. In addition to the normal social cues, Wally was sure to patrol the room, breaking up play as he deemed necessary, correcting dogs as he deemed necessary, and all of the dogs fell into the idea of a pack hierarchy very quickly. You knew who stood where.

Now since Wally has passed, and Blue moved in, the dynamics have changed. They play, they get snarky, and if someone gets too pushy they'll correct, but I don't see any sort of hierarchy.
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Postby DemoDick » March 16th, 2009, 8:51 am

First off I don't believe that the human members of a dog's family count as it's pack. Humans and dogs are very different in how we act and relate to each other.


I disagree. Humans are capable of crystal clear communication with dogs, even with the interspecies communication issues. It's not as clear as dog-dog communication, but done correctly the dog will understand exactly what we are trying to communicate. This forms a very powerful social bond.

We don't correct dogs by snarling and grabbing at their necks, nor do we assert our dominance by chasing them away from food or throwing our heads over their shoulders.


No, but we do other things that communicate the same ideas in a way that dogs understand. Dogs read body language, verbal tones, etc., better than most people do.

So though humans may be a pseudo-pack of sorts, it's not the type of pack drive I'm talking about.


I understand where you're coming from, but when it comes to working dogs I've always been taught to refer to "pack drive" as the dogs readiness to bond to a human handler. From a strictly behavioral standpoint, I see what you are referring to, but considering the training jargon already in place, there is a lot of potential for confusion.

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Postby SisMorphine » March 16th, 2009, 9:10 am

DemoDick wrote:
First off I don't believe that the human members of a dog's family count as it's pack. Humans and dogs are very different in how we act and relate to each other.


I disagree. Humans are capable of crystal clear communication with dogs, even with the interspecies communication issues. It's not as clear as dog-dog communication, but done correctly the dog will understand exactly what we are trying to communicate. This forms a very powerful social bond.

Dogs communicate one way, humans communicate another way. Yes, I do believe that we can communicate with our dogs clearly through training BUT that is because we meet our dogs right smack dab in the middle of our ways of communication.

I understand where you're coming from, but when it comes to working dogs I've always been taught to refer to "pack drive" as the dogs readiness to bond to a human handler. From a strictly behavioral standpoint, I see what you are referring to, but considering the training jargon already in place, there is a lot of potential for confusion.

See I have never heard the term "pack drive" in reference to a dog's connection with it's handler.

But this is where I think drives in general get messy. Because there is no real standard for what drives mean, there is a lot of interpretation left to the mind. If you look up "pack drive" in google you will come up with a million different links with a million different answers.

Something I've realized over the past few days of discussions is that semantics can really come into play when we're discussing training and behaviors.
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Postby katiek0417 » March 16th, 2009, 9:35 am

SisMorphine wrote:First off I don't believe that the human members of a dog's family count as it's pack. Humans and dogs are very different in how we act and relate to each other. We don't correct dogs by snarling and grabbing at their necks, nor do we assert our dominance by chasing them away from food or throwing our heads over their shoulders. So though humans may be a pseudo-pack of sorts, it's not the type of pack drive I'm talking about.



I like everything Demo had to say, and I do agree with it...

And, Lys, I also agree that different trainers use different jargon - and that, I believe is a major problem in the dog training community - there's no standard...I don't mean that the fact there's no "standard way to train" is a problem - I mean that because there are different trainers/different methods, there are different terms used...

However, i do want to actually address the one comment you made above. What you say we don't do is exactly what we did with Rocky when he was a baby to combat his food aggression. He was bad to the point if you came within 6 feet of his food, he'd come off of it to attack you. We tried all other methods, but none worked...we finally started to act more like a dog...and it was the only thing that got through to him. After using that method, we were actually able to get near his bowl with our hands (b/c he had a tendency towards food aggression, we would never take it from him)...he'd watch us as he was eating...but never a growl or snarl out of him...and he NEVER lunged at us from then on...

Also, if you don't believe that human members of a dog's family count as it's pack, then why do we (and I mean all of us) recommend NILIF to people? Why do we tell people the dog has to recognize us (the human owner) as being the head of the pack? I mean, in reality, if we don't count as it's pack, then we're wasting our time, right? (Disclaimer: I'm obviously not advocating NOT telling people to use NILIF, etc...I'm just playing devil's advocate).
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Postby SisMorphine » March 16th, 2009, 9:54 am

I think because NILIF is us meeting them in the middle of understanding.

Another thing I've been thinking about is that my earliest experiences in training were based around pack-type behavioral stuff: always eat before your dog, never let your dog go out the door ahead of you, etc etc etc. And it was always said that "for some dogs these things don't matter" and I never really looked into it. But now thinking about it regarding pack drive, whether it is little to none, makes sense.

I DO think that pack behavior is important, and I DO think that we can take some of what the dogs do and some of what we do and marry it. I just don't think that dogs see humans as their pack, the way they would see a room full of dogs.
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