How the hierarchical status of dogs is formed
Dominance in dogs it’s not such a simple and unambiguous thing as it might seem at first glance. For example, if we are dealing with nonlinearhierarchy (and it is built up in most groups of social animals, including dogs), sometimes it is very difficult to determine the hierarchical status of each member of the pack, because it, moreover, can change.
What affects hierarchical status?
- Age. Scientists have come to the conclusion that a stable hierarchy is formed with the onset of puberty. After all, before this period animals grow, which means that their behavior and they themselves are changing.
- Resource Importance. The motivation for competing for different resources is different for different dogs. And therefore, the hierarchical order can also change. The history of the relationship is also important: the dogs living together remember perfectly for whom which resource is of great importance and who will compete more actively for what. So, you can decide whether the game is worth the candle or is it easier to give way to a lower-ranking member of the flock who desperately wants the toy. As a result, for each resource the hierarchy can be different.
- Role allocation and alliances. For example, there is a concept that there is a “leader” in the pack and there is a “leader”, and these are different roles. The leader is responsible for maintaining discipline, and the leader is responsible for finding solutions, since it is he who has the necessary experience. Animals that come together to form an alliance can win more often than they would if they competed individually with others.There are also adjutants who feel safe, being inside the individual distance of the dominant, where competitors with a higher rank cannot stick.
- Situation. For example, there is such a thing as inversion of dominance - situational dominance in the context of sexual or parental behavior. No one will risk competing with a mother with cubs, even if this mother in ordinary life has a low rank. Indeed, during the rearing of young, the mother becomes more aggressive and more persistent due to changes in the hormonal background. And contacting her is more expensive.
Does the order depend on hierarchical status?
The answer to this question: no, most often it does not. For example, in predators, when moving a group, hierarchical status has little effect on the order of movement. Yes, in a critical situation, animals with a higher rank can go ahead, but in a normal situation this does not matter much, and very often low-ranking animals rush ahead. And, for example, when there is a group of wolves, curious adolescents most often break ahead.
So, for example, such a burning question for many dog owners, who should be the first to go through the door, you or the dog, has absolutely nothing to do with hierarchical status and “domination”.
How does hierarchical status affect food competition?
Competition for food depends on the size of the group and limited resources, as well as on the type of food. For example, if wolves are kept in captivity and limited in food, competition will be much higher than in natural conditions, where they, even with a decrease in the number of moose or deer, can mouse, that is, find another source of food.Moreover, even if there is competition for large pieces of prey, then there may not be any competition for mice.
Another important thing is the taboo on the area around the mouth of the wolves. For example, if an animal, albeit with the lowest rank, has caught, say, a bird or the same mouse, it can easily pass by the leader, holding it in its mouth, and even the most notorious dominant will not encroach on this piece.
However, if an animal with a lower rank grabbed a large piece that does not fit in its mouth and gnaws it while lying down, then a higher-ranking individual may well try to take possession of this prey.
And in this sense, dogs look like wolves.
That is, if the dog grabbed a stinky piece of muck on the street and you try to get it from her mouth, and she snaps, it has nothing to do with dominance. It is only a matter of training, no more, but no less.