Original beliefs about dogs as pack animals was based on their descendance from wolves. However, recent observations of free-roaming dog populations throughout the world have revealed that dogs are more scavengers than predators, and therefore live much more solitary lives than wolves. After all, it does not benefit a scavenger to share small amounts of food with a large group of other animals. Dogs are social animals and will gather in groups (generally around available food sources such as garbage dumps), however, the groups are loosely structured with animals joining and leaving randomly and frequently, a trait not found in wolf packs. Further, unlike wolves, male dogs do not stay with the female after mating and do not assist in the care and rasing of the pups.
In wolf packs, the individuals are related, most often being the breeding pair (formerly called "alpha") and their offspring. The pups stay with the pack until 2-3 years of age, at which point they leave to find mates and form their own packs. Any wolf that survives long enough to mate is an 'alpha'.
It is because of their social nature that domestic dogs fit so well into our families. However, all evidence indicates that dogs are not, in fact, pack animals.
This common misunderstanding has been used to justify force, fear and pain as "training" methods, which is why it is so important for dog owners to understand the difference between myth and fact.
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