Monday, 9 March 2009
Treating two common behavior problems in puppies
Professionals are occasionally faced with puppies that are extremely fearful or assertive. Here are special handling techniques owners will need to integrate such puppies into their homes.
These puppies are extremely afraid of multiple stimuli. Their reactions include hiding, shaking, running away, and whining. If disciplined harshly with physical reprimands, neck shakes, or extremely loud noises, these puppies may growl or bite. In some of these puppies, fearfulness may have a genetic component, which could be revealed by investigating the puppy's family history. Early experience may also contribute to fearfulness.
I tell owners to handle these puppies gently and avoid loud noises, quick movements, and harsh reprimands. Owners should encourage appropriate behaviors with positive reinforcement. And these puppies often benefit from puppy classes in which positive reinforcement is used. Such training often instills confidence in these dogs. I advise owners to expose a fearful puppy to many new circumstances in a positive manner by using a soft tone of voice and food rewards. Don't reward fearful behavior with a change in vocal intonation or body contact (e.g. petting the puppy and saying "it's OK"). Instead, owners should try using an upbeat, happy voice and encourage the puppy to relax.
Using the Gentle leader/Promise head cellar will often give owners of these puppies control and will decrease the puppies' fear. When the behavior is extreme and no change is seen by 4 to 6 months of age, intervention by a veterinary behaviorist or applied animal behaviorist is recommended. Without early intervention, fear aggression may develop.
Assertive puppies often show extreme play behaviors with aggressive components such as play biting, jumping, and stealing. These puppies are difficult to control and may engage in attention-seeking behaviors such as barking at owners or pawing them. When owners attempt to physically restrain these dogs, they may be met with fierce resistance and possibly aggression.
Owners need to begin training these puppies immediately. Harsh confrontational methods, however, often backfire. Assertive puppies often take a confrontation as a challenge and escalate their defiance. They may, for example, strongly resist attempts to use submission training postures. In these puppies, lure-reward methods of training can be beneficial?
Owners should avoid getting into a fighting match with these puppies. Withdrawing attention, leaving a room, and using loud noise distracters leg. airhorns) can help control exuberant play. Vigorous exercise (20 minutes twice a day) can help channel energy into an appropriate activity. Owners should encourage games such as fetch and discourage games such as tug of war. They shouldn't encourage inappropriate play, such as wrestling, with these puppies.
Leashing the puppy helps eliminate unwanted behaviors. A Gentle Leader/Promise head collar with a 70-ft lead will provide additional control while the owner is home and awake.z Handfeeding is often useful in assertive puppies that guard their food. Or the owner can make the puppy sit and wait for its food and then place the bowl down with a small amount food. Once the puppy has eaten that, the owner can pick up the bowl and repeat.
Assertive behavior can quickly get out of hand in large-breed puppies. Early behavioral intervention with qualified behaviorists may be needed to give the owner control and avoid aggression and injury.
(REFERENCES Dunbar, L: How to Teach a New Dog Old Tricks. James arid Kenneth Publishers, Oakland, Calif, 1991)
First impressions are everything
A young puppy is easily intimidated, especially on its first office visit. When frightened, it may respond with growling, snapping, and, in some situations, with urination and defecation. Each frightening experience may create fears that become more profound with each visit.
Veterinarians and staff should strive to make a puppy's first visit as stress-free as possible. To accomplish this, be aware of nonthreatening and friendly ways to interact with new puppies. First of all, allow the puppy to come to you. Encourage approach by using a soft tone of voice, beckoning with your hand, and even offering a delectable food treat. Once the puppy comes to you, gently touch it. Avoid reaching out and grabbing a puppy because you might startle it. If a puppy seems to resist efforts to restrain and examine it, offer another food treat. Try smearing some baby food on the exam table. While the puppy licks it off, it may stand quietly for a heart and lung examination. When examining the head, face, and ears, give food treats. During each step of the examination, use food treats, a gentle voice, and praise to let the puppy know that it is behaving correctly and need not fear the exam or you.
What should you do when faced with a growling or biting puppy? Professionals often think that such a puppy is being dominant, so they try to control it. Most often, however, the behavior is motivated by fear, not a desire to be dominant. When fear is the motivation, yelling at the puppy or snuffing its neck will increase the dog's fear. If the event is traumatic enough, it can leave a lasting negative impression on the puppy. If a puppy is truly intractable, try offering food or smearing baby food on the table. If the puppy won't eat, try shifting locations, perhaps to the floor. If attempts at calming the puppy are unsuccessful, consider stopping the examination and suggesting the owner return on another day when the puppy is calmer. Your goal is to make veterinary visits fun and non threatening. By showing your concern far both the medical and behavioral welfare of their new pet, you will impress your client. When the client returns and brings the puppy into the waiting room, provide some play time and food treats. Use the time you spend playing with the puppy to discuss health and behavioral issues with the owner. By taking these steps, you help the puppy and its owner build a lifelong association of pleasant experiences with your veterinary clinic.
Naturally if a puppy is ill, medical needs take precedence, and you must proceed with the examination. Use good judgment about when it is best to proceed and when it is best to wait. Remember, you never get a second chance to make a first impression!
Thursday, 12 February 2009
A comfortable crate can minimize destruction and maximize house-training efforts.
A crate also protects an unsupervised puppy from injury. The crate should be big enough to accommodate the puppy as an adult.
In large-breed dogs, it may be necessary to partition the crate initially to create a small, cozy space. This can be accomplished with cardboard or wood, which can be removed as the puppy grows.
When introducing a puppy to a crate, an owner should first use the crate as a resting and feeding spot and should always associate pleasant things with the crate. If the puppy cries at first, it should be kept in the crate until it is quiet, and then removed. The owner shouldn't leave the puppy in the crate for so long that it must eliminate in it. And the owner should avoid leaving food and water in the crate overnight.
The puppy must have plenty of opportunities to exercise and to eliminate outdoors.
A crate is not an excuse to ignore a puppy. An owner who is out of the house eight to 10 hours a day should not leave a puppy in a crate all day long.
How do owners bond with their new puppies?
As mentioned above, puppies are impressionable at this age and are willing to bond with people.
What is needed for bonding is calm, patient, and- consistent attention. Tell the owner to allow the puppy to become familiar with the routine for eating, voiding, and playing and to strive for positive interactions, not negative.
The owner should spend a lot of time with the new puppy. The puppy should see its owner as a source of affection, interaction, and comfort. Puppies deprived of human interaction for long periods will often resort to attention-getting behaviors such as jumping up, running, and play biting.
Supervision is important when introducing a puppy to other dogs already in the family.
The puppy and the other dogs should be on leashes, and the owner should organize short, supervised interactions between the dogs, separating them before they get uncomfortable.
The owner should gradually increase the time the dogs are together and reward them for good behavior.
Disciplining a puppy
Young puppies are easily intimidated, and owners need to keep this in mind when disciplining them. Harsh physical punishment is unnecessary and may frighten a puppy and make it hand-shy. Properly training puppies, as described below, minimizes the need for disciplining and establishes the owner as the leader. When discipline is required, puppies are easily corrected with noise distraction and a change in vocal intonation. Other methods of discipline used in the past have included handling exercises that mimic how dogs may physically dominate one another. If these techniques are improperly applied, they can result in resistance and possible aggression.
Socialization in dogs takes place between 4 and 12 weeks of age, when puppies are most receptive to certain stimuli. During this period, puppies easily make social attachments and learn how to interact with other dogs and species. Although socialization is lifelong, what happens during this early period can be crucial. At this age, an owner should expose a puppy to many new people (e.g. delivery persons, people wearing uniforms, children, infants, teenagers, elderly persons). These meetings should be pleasant; for example, the people could offer the puppy a biscuit or treat. The message conveyed to the puppy is, "Aren't these people nice, they feed me." It's also advantageous to expose the puppy to new things: stairs, elevators, different types of vehicles, umbrellas, bicycles-the list is endless.
By being introduced to people and things in a calm, reassuring setting, the puppy learns to handle new situations without fear.
And as an added bonus, the puppy learns to trust its owner.
During the socialization period, an owner should continue allowing the puppy to interact with adult dogs and,other puppies. One good way to accomplish this is to enroll it in a puppy class once preliminary vaccinations are given.
The minimum age for puppies to start a puppy class is usually 8 to 10 weeks. Most puppy classes have a play time that allows the puppies to run, chew, and jump on each other and learn the important social lessons of the dog world.
Training a puppy
Proper training helps ensure a puppy's successful transition to adulthood. In the first few months, an owner can teach a puppy tasks that will aid in controlling the dog and in establishing the owner's leadership .
Puppies are learning all the time, so there is no reason to delay training until a puppy is 6 months old, as was once recommended.
First, owners should teach their puppies to tolerate being handled. Owners will often need to groom or bathe their puppies, clean their ears, clip their toenails, or give them medication.
If a puppy is taught early onto tolerate and even enjoy these interactions, caring for the pet will be easier. Owners should handle their puppies daily. Incorporating praise and food treats into the routine helps keep it non threatening and enjoyable for the puppy.
At the first office visit, the veterinarian or a veterinary technician can show new pet owners how to open the pet's mouth, handle its feet, look under its tail, and examine its skin.
Recommend that all family members participate in this exercise. The best time to handle the puppy in this way is when it is calm and relaxed. Always end the session before the puppy is excited or tired.
Second, an owner should accustom his or her puppy to having its food and possessions touched (in the wild must guard their food to prevent its loss, but this is unnecessary in the home).
Petting the puppy and handling its food bowl while the dog eats helps it learn not to fee: threatened by these intrusions. The puppy will not be startled and read aggressively if something unexpected happens while it is eating.
To accustom a puppy to having its possessions handled, the owner should gently take toys from the puppy, say "thank you," and return the toys.
A similar technique is to take a toy or bone and offer a food treat to help the puppy learn that when the owner takes something, it need not be negative.
These techniques send the puppy the message that it is all right for people to handle its possessions and may make it easier for the owner to take things from the dog's mouth in the future.
Third, puppies must learn bite inhibition. Puppies chew on everything, including each other and people.
One of the things they are trying to learn is how much pressure from their jaws causes pain. Without this feedback, a puppy doesn't team to inhibit the force of its bite. Because all dogs can and will bite at some time, this lesson is vital for human safety.
How is this lesson taught? Puppies start to learn bite inhibition while with their littermates. If Puppy A bites on Puppy B too hard, Puppy B will yelp. If that doesn't work, Puppy B will leave.
This sends the message to Puppy A that its bites were too hard and if it wishes to continue to play, it needs to be gentle.
Owners, however, often don't send this message to their puppies. In the beginning, owners often allow their puppies to chew on them without reprimands, and the puppies assume that the behavior is acceptable. Instead, the message owners should send is that mouthing and chewing on hands are painful. To do this, usually all that is needed is for all family members to emit a sharp "yip." This sends the message to the puppy that the bites are painful. At times, the "yip" may need to be reinforced by walking away from the puppy. When consistently administered, this technique will often stop playful biting.
Finally, by using positive reinforcement young puppies can be taught simple obedience tasks such as sitting, lying down, and standing. Puppies have short attention spans, so training sessions should be brief but frequent (several five- to 10minute sessions interspersed throughout the day).
For example, an owner can teach a puppy to sit before feeding or going outside by using a method called lure-reward training.
To teach a puppy to sit, hold a food treat over the puppy's nose, and slowly move it up and back over the puppy's head. As the puppy follows the food with its head, it will sit. As the puppy sits, say "sit," and reward the puppy with the treat. If the puppy lifts its front legs during this exercise, .the food treat is too high.
Repeat these steps until the puppy learns the meaning of "sit."
To get a puppy to lie down, lower a treat between its front paws, and say "down." The puppy will usually follow the treat and die down. If the puppy doesn't lie all the way down, slowly push the treat backward between its paws. When the puppy lies down, give it the treat, and, of course, add "good dog." If the puppy stands up, start over.
Teach a puppy to stand on commarld by moving the food treat forward and away from the pup and saying "stand." These three commands can be combined (sit, down, sit, stand, down, and so on).'° When teaching these commands, always use praise, and gradually phase out food rewards.
Next weeks post: Treating two common behavior problems in puppies
Saturday, 31 January 2009
Analys, bedömning och behandling av beteende problem i husdjur
The nature of behaviour and behaviour problems
Understanding the nature of behaviour problems is essential to developing a rational basis for their treatment.
Behaviour problems arise as a result of an interaction between factors relating to the current environment and developmental factors within a patient of a given state. Not all behaviour problems represent dysfunctional, abnormal or maladaptive behaviour since "the problem is the not the animal’s behaviour per se but rather the problem that this behaviour poses for its owner" (Askew 1996).
Broadly speaking behaviour problems may be divided into behaviours which are adaptive but inconvenient for the owner, those which are derived from attempts to behave in an adaptive way in a suboptimal environment and those which are truly maladaptive e.g. seizure activity.
The causes of behaviour may be investigated at a proximate or ultimate level (Mayr 1961). Proximate explanations relate to the environmental stimuli and mechanisms within the individual which bring about the physical expression of the behaviour; they describe the pathological and aetiological processes with which veterinary surgeons are familiar in normal clinical practice.
The ultimate explanations describe why such proximate processes should come about; they explain the function or adaptiveness of the processes. Tinbergen (1963) suggested that a full explanation of behaviour was to be found at four distinguishable but complementary levels:
-phylogeny (evolutionary history),
-ontogeny (development within an individual),
This paradigm has now become a central tenet to ethology.
Unfortunately, within the field of animal behaviour therapy, there has tended at times to be a fragmentation of this unifying model with emphasis being given to particular levels according to the philosophical standpoint of the therapist, which may be medical, psychological or more purely ethological.
Clinical ethologists tend not to adhere rigidly to a single model as it is generally accepted that internal and external causes interact in the development of a disorder. However, one type of cause does tend to be emphasised at the expense of other possible explanations. (Sheppard & Mills 1998).
Ethological explanations which focus on the ultimate factors governing behaviour are widely used for the category of problems which consist of adaptive, species typical behaviours which are inconvenient for the owner, like hierarchical aggression in dogs (Borchelt and Voith 1982).
However the potential for an ultimate analysis of behaviour problems which have traditionally been thought of as psychopathologies, is a much more recent phenomenon. These problems tend to be analysed from a behavioural or medical perspective which concentrates on proximate explanations of behaviour (Mills 1997).
Since psychological disorders in animals appear to share a similar inherent structure and mechanism to human psychiatric disorders, it is likely that investigations of the former will be equally unsuccessful unless a more appropriate approach is rationalised.
Behaviour problems consist of clusters of behaviours and emotional states, most of which are not specific to one disorder. If proximate causes are identified they could be associated with one or more signs and may also be associated with other disorders. The neurological processes underlying such general states as depression, anxiety or phobic responses could be normal adaptive mechanisms rather than a pathological process in the normal sense of the word.
For example, fearful behaviour in a dog is regarded as a disorder if it is too prolonged, too frequent or occurs in the absence of an appropriate trigger. The difference between "normal" and "abnormal" is subjective with such an approach and unsatisfactory as a foundation for a clinical science (Mills 1997).
Mechanistic investigation is in danger of identifying the normal mechanism that instigates a fear response as opposed to the primary cause of what makes it inappropriate, which may relate to endogenous or exogenous individual factors.
The evolutionary approach
Biomedical and pharmacological models of psychological problems emphasise the internal causes of disorders; by contrast, the behavioural and sociocultural models emphasise external causes. In any case, each model implicates a specific type of proximate cause in the development of behaviour problems and provides explanations on that basis alone. Proximate explanations that give equal consideration to the influences of internal and external factors have greater value but cannot provide a full understanding of the causes of a disorder, as they do not evaluate the potential role of ultimate factors involved. The importance of ultimate factors such as function in the classification and treatment of ethological behaviour problems is well recognised, and the evolutionary approach to psychiatry extends this to psychological phenomena.
The different levels of explanation proposed by Tinbergen (1963) are interdependent in the construction of a paradigm for assessing behaviour problems and so should have equal consideration. An evolutionary framework enables us to integrate these different factors in a coherent manner and on a sound basis, since the theory of evolution is the central tenet of biology.
The evolutionary approach to psychological change focuses attention on the interactions of an animal with its environment and investigates their potential functional value as well as the nature, source and degree of any perceived suboptimality. Two stages of psychological evaluation can be recognised:
-evaluation of the functional value at an evolutionary level of the psychological process being evoked
-evaluation of the functional capacity in situ of the process involved
The adaptive value of the processes of fear and anxiety in helping an animal avoid or prepare for a noxious event are obvious, but other psychological processes which may also feature as "psychological problems" may also have adaptive value. Price et al (1997) hypothesise that depressive states are adaptive mechanisms that enable individuals to cope with defeat in social competition and to adjust to a low social rank.
In these circumstances, a depressive response assists an individual in deferring attacks from higher ranking individuals and helps in the recruitment of social support from other members of the group, thus minimising the impact of defeat and maximising the coping potential of the individual.
However, depression when alone might suggest a different function, such as withdrawal from uncontrollably oppressive features of the environment (McGuire and Troisi 1998).
Behavioural and emotional responses are often considered to be disorders when responses are too intense, too prolonged, too frequent or when they appear to occur in the absence of an appropriate triggering stimulus. These responses could however be adaptive in other contexts such as alternative genetic combinations, different stages of the animal’s development, the opposite sex, or alternative environments (Nesse and Williams, 1997). In which case the behaviour and psychological processes behind it cannot be considered pathological. Normal population variation means that individuals in a given population differ in the degree of baseline optimality of specific traits. This is the raw material for natural selection and evolution proceeds as a result. The sensitivity of different systems may need to vary for optimal adaptation in different environments; consider the cosseted pet with its feral neighbour for an extreme contrast. If suboptimality is due to a mismatch between the animal’s adaptive range and the environment in which it is placed the prognosis for psychological recovery is better than when there is a genuine dysfunction of the trait. In the latter case, there is a real neurological disturbance and the prognosis is considered much poorer (McGuire and Troisi 1998)
When a large proportion of functional capacities are highly flexible an individual can adjust to and live successfully in a wider range of environments than when functional capacities are more limited. However, the latter does not necessarily exhibit any behavioural disturbance. For example, a dog with limited functional capacities may be able to live in a quiet, rural environment without displaying any signs of a behaviour problem, but in a noisy inner city area it may be unable to adjust so well. This does not inevitably lead to any form of pathology but it may lead to behaviour problems associated with a specific psychological state. We can identify the two categories of response described above.
Firstly the dog may use unacceptable or concerning strategies to control its environment and help it to cope. This might include increased aggression to repel strangers or a depressive withdrawal.
If this is identified, functional treatment should not seek to control the behaviour per se but rather address the problem of compromised adaptability which has led to it. Alternatively the mismatch between the animal and its environment may be addressed in order to help the dog to cope in a more acceptable way. Even if the pathways involved in the control of the behaviour become sensitised and the response generalised to a wider range of stimuli, it still maintains a functional form and so is not considered pathological.
If the situation is so prolonged or intense that it exhausts or defeats the coping mechanisms, then we may start to see a truly dysfunctional behaviour. In this case we have a genuine psychopathology, with the behaviour no longer structured in a functional way. Prognosis in these cases is poor.
Thus disorders may represent attempts to behave adaptively in the face of limitations and in other contexts be signs of an overtaxing of these and a true dysfunction.
The evolutionary approach is not a radical departure from that used currently by other clinicians but provides further information for the management of cases where psychological factors are significant. It is to be hoped that with this approach a functional ethogram can be constructed against which an objective assessment of behavioural pathology can be made. The approach has also helped in owner counselling and a more rational application of psychopharmacolgy.
(For example, Mrs X. contacted the Animal Behaviour Clinic for advice concerning her two neutered male Terriers who had started fighting each other since they were nine months old, some six months previous. The smaller dog (A) apparently initiated the attacks despite being consistently defeated by its larger sibling (B). These would tend to occur only when the dogs were on the lead. After a fight A would withdraw from B, but stay within sight of the owner and appear "depressed". The owner admitted to feeling sorry for A and was wondering whether or not he should be rehomed, as she felt he no longer enjoyed life.)
Traditional treatment strategies emphasise the need to reinforce the dominant and subordinate dogs’ positions but this is difficult for owners to implement when they already feel guilty about the subordinate’s quality of life.
However, in this case, when it was explained that the depressed behaviour was most probably functioning as a care-soliciting behaviour designed to recruit owner support which maintained instability in the unit, which was leading to these fights, the owner quickly complied with the treatment strategy proposed. Thus treatment of the depression would probably extend the range of situations when fights were instigated. Whilst the evolutionary approach may not alter the treatment offered in this particular type of case it provides a much more satisfactory explanation of the situation than any behavioural or medical model. It helped improve owner compliance and avoided the potential misapplication of pharmacotherapy. The pattern of response seen in R, has since been noted in several other cases of sibling competition seen by the author, and these cases have been managed equally effectively.
It is accepted that further research is necessary in order to investigate the hypotheses that such an approach generates about the nature of the psychological state of patients with supposed psychological disturbance. However, it is suggested that this approach has the potential to explain the success and limitations of the systems adopted and proposed by different experts within the field.
Hundpsykolog och expert inom hundbeteende
Friday, 23 January 2009
Elements of analysis in ethology
1.Socialization of the dog
Ethology understands the concept of socialization as a period and a process.
“The period of socialization is the time in which the animal has a higher sensitivity and during certain facts or events which affect more intense in their behaviour during adulthood, that occurred before or after this stage.” (Bateson, 1979).
The socialization begins in the dog more or less, at 3 weeks old when his neurosensibles and motor skills are developed enough to interact with the environment.
The socialization period ends, depending on the breed and individual differences, when the dog is 3 to 3 ½ months old. (Freedman, King and Elliot, 1961).
During the puppy socialization, the dog develops its vision of the world around him, recording everything that at that time is seen as positive and normal. In this way, the dog will form a reference system by which you can compare and evaluate new situations that are presented later in life. To build a good system of referrals, the puppy has to live the experiences.
The processes that occur here are called habituation and socialization.
Habituation is the process where the puppy trusts the surroundings (environment). Habituation leads to everyday situations, such as noise of the cars, the movement of the curtains in the wind, or the noisy vacuum cleaners do not receive the attention of the dog.
Socialization is the process where the dog learns to know its own species and other species to learn how to deal with them.
On the social game with members of the kennel, the puppy learns to understand and use signs of congenital communication. Interactions with adult members of the group teach the puppy as appeasing the most powerful and aggressive individuals. Another important process that begins with socialization, but that does not end at 3 months old, is learning bite inhibition. Contrary to popular belief, the bite of self-consciousness is not congenital, but is learned during the social game.
However, our dogs not only have to know and learn to deal with their own species but also with other species, especially with men.
Studies of the 60s have shown that those dogs who meet up to 3 months and had not had contact with humans remained shy in front man as wild animals (Freedman, King and Elliot, 1961). Scott and Fuller (1965), in addition to this, found that those dogs that were in cages during the socialization period were much more retracted against unknown persons than those in the controlled animal groups that grew up in a family home.
The best time to deliver the puppy to its owner is between the 8th and the 9th week of birth.
In addition, the owner must complete the teaching of self-consciousness of biting. The careful treatment with human skin by the dog must work before it can reach produce severe injuries to their teeth for lack of learning in this regard.
"The body expression, ie facial expressions and posture, are part of the canine communication system" (Feddersen-Petersen und Ohl, 1995, Simpson, 1997).
Communication is the transmission of messages. This requires an issuer, the signal transmitting and receiving information. Communication within a group of dogs is designed to minimize the fighting and promote cooperation. The communicative skills are learned during socialization and then be trained and improved through regular contact with peers of the same species.
Dogs communicate through olfactory stimuli, acoustic, visual and tactile. This exhibition will be limited to the explanation of visual communication. Fox (1987) considered the visual cues as the most important in the communication dog-dog or dog-man. These are used for communication over a short or medium distance and can vary so quickly and adapt to any situation that may be required.
Dogs use body posture, gestures and mime to express their status, their mood and motivation. Importantly, each signal by itself is irrelevant and only gets its true meaning depending on the context in which it is displayed. For example, the movement of the tail first and only means new excitement you can see its true meaning if it when the dog is playing, feels fear or aggression.
In the constant search for the body characteristic traits, the selection made by the man has changed dramatically the appearance of existing dogs, originally very similar to his ancestor the wolf, making difficult in many cases a clear communication.
The correct interpretation of the dog expressions gives men the opportunity to appreciate the moods and intentions of the dog, and neutralize conflicts ith specific canine responses. On the contrary, the man can help the dog to understand the instructions and human moods and avoid problems applying canine bodily expressions.
Regarding the intra-species communication, the owner should be instructed on the need for daily contact with other dogs of its kind, in this way, the dog can understand the terms of canine communication and avoid serious conflicts and disputes later.
3.Dominance relationships between dogs and Human-dog
"Like their ancestors the wolves, dogs have a social hierarchy based on dominance and subordination. The engine of development of social systems is the instinct of animals to live as long as possible, in order to transmit as many genes to future generations. The greater the number of offspring will be the biggest success of the individual, ie the higher your individual fitness" (Goodenough, McGuirre and Wallace, 2001).
Dogs can achieve this goal, in the best way living in a family structured hierarchically in unions.
The advantages of the pack are common hunting prey larger than themselves, cooperation in the rearing of cubs and defense group and the territory against intruders or enemies.
The disadvantage of group life is competition for limited resources such as food, resting places for couples or reproduction. Abrantes (1997) describes the problem that has to fix an animal's life in society, as follows: How can I impose my will to the best of it without killing or wounding of my other colleagues that I needed for my own survival and my successors?.
To achieve this, evolution has favored the system of relations of dominance in many species. The social hierarchy or dominance hierarchy describes the network of relationships within a pack and the fact that each member has a rank within the group. It means that dominance is not a feature of the nature of an animal, but concerns or the relationship between two individuals of the group (dual relationship), or the status of an individual within the group.
Hundpsykolog och hundbeteende expert