The Social Behavior of a Domesticated Pack

The intriguing social complexity of a wild wolf pack is not often seen of the
surface of a group of domesticated dogs. Many times the social behavior is based upon
the dogs accepting the human owners as the leaders of their pack and their is no
competition between the animals themselves. However in isolated instances you may have
the unique chance to see a group of domestic dogs form a hierarchy, that can be
dangerous to the dogs and to the humans who are supposed to control them. I live with a
hierarchy of such nature, oddly enough there is much to be learned from 15lb Jack Russell
Terriers.

Background Information of a Wolf Pack:
The basic social unit of wolf populations is the pack, which usually consists of a
mature male and female plus offspring one or more years of age. Pack size can reach 36,
but usually 2 to 8 individuals are present. Each pack ranges over its own area of land, or
territory--which may vary from 130 to 13,000 sq km (50 to 5,000 sq mi)--and will defend
all or much of this area against intruders. Members form strong social bonds that promote
internal cohesion. Order is maintained by a dominance hierarchy. The pack leader, usually
a male, is referred to by behaviorists as the alpha male. The top-ranking (alpha) female
usually is subordinate to the alpha male but dominant over all other pack members.
When two wolves meet, each shows its relationship to the other by indicating dominance
or submission through facial expression and posture. Additional modes of wolf
communication are howling and other vocalizations and scent marking. One function of
howling is to communicate position or assemble the pack; advertisement of territory to
neighbors is probably another. Scent marking involves deposition of urine or feces on
conspicuous objects along travel routes, usually by dominant wolves. This behavior
appears to function in territory maintenance and in intrapack communication.
During the course of each year wolf packs alternate between a stationary phase
from spring through summer and a nomadic phase in autumn and winter. Activities during
the stationary phase involve caring for pups at a den or homesite. During summer most
movements are toward or away from the pups, and adults often travel and hunt alone.
By autumn pups are capable of traveling extensively with the adults, so until the next
whelping season the pack usually roams as a unit throughout its territory in search of prey.
In tundra areas wolf packs follow herds of caribou in their annual migrations.

Meet The Specimens of Research:

The "pack" that I have been studying consists of 4 dogs. All terriers, each with
different characteristics, varying age, and size. Each dog spends 24 hours a day no more
than 50 yards from each other.
Burrito: Burrito was the first Jack Russell to enter the house hold. He is relatively
tall at 10inches (at the withers) and weighs 19 pounds. Burrito is only 5 years of age and
is very docile, he doesn\'t play ball or fetch, like to be around humans (preferably cuddling)
and he sleeps with my mother and father. Burrito he one good eye do to glaucoma, and
has muscle spasms do to the medicine he has to take.
Beanie: Beanie was the second Dog to enter the household. Unlike burrito she is
female, and she was not always our dog. We adopted Beanie in the Jack Russell rescue
program. She is taller than Burrito at 12 inches however she only weighs 14 pounds.
While a puppy Beanie developed a furious temper, often having fits of grabbing the rug
and shaking it, or the cat beds among other objects. During these fits of rage there is no
rationalization behind stopping her. She loses all trained thoughts and acts solely upon
instinct. Beanie has a constant need for control. If there are 4 rawhides, Beanie needs
them all, and until she gets them, she barks growls, steals, and tricks the other dog. Beanie
is on a different level as far as intellectual thinking than the other dogs. Besides those
characteristics Beanie is an outstanding athlete, and can in some situations out muscle a
human.
Bimbo: Bimbo was the third dog to enter the house household. She was brought
into our lives as a puppy and has had no other owners before us. She is in need of
constant attention from my Mother and has not an ounce of hate or wrong doing in her.
Bimbo is 1012 inches at the withers and weighs 17 pounds. She