Dr. James C. Ha, Ph.D., CAAB is a professor of applied animal behavior at the University of WA and a certified applied animal behavior with over 30 years of experience in animal behavior teaching, research, consulting, and expert witness services.
Do dogs consider us as pack members?
Domestic dogs have evolved with human beings for at least 40-50 thousand years. What has happened is that dogs and humans have coevolved over that period to become much closer. Dogs are unique among all species of animals because of this co-evolutionary very close relationship. Dogs are dependent on humans. And humans at least for a long part of our evolutionary history were dependent on dogs.
There is a strong relationship that is not a pack relationship. It is a co-evolutionary cooperative relationship. More people need to understand that. It is not about dominance and pack. It is a cooperative relationship.
Are we pack members with our dogs?
Pat Miller, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, CDBC reminds us that “We are not dogs!” therefore we should not try to act like dogs – we have built a human/dog relationship that has outlasted the test of time. Dog’s rely on us for survival, and while our dependence on dogs has changed, we still have a use for them, guard dogs, hunting, service dogs, and companions.
Dogs also communicate differently to us than they do to members of their own kind. So trying to communicate to a dog as another dog will be confusing, dogs know we are not dogs. Just like expecting a dog to act like a human is impossible, we can’t hope to effectively interact with our pets acting like a species we are not.