No reputable dog trainer will ever tell you that a dog is just a wolf in a gayly coloured furry coat. Equally, no dog trainer worth their salt will try and convince you that considering the evolutionary path from wolf to dog is without worth when discussing dog behaviour.
There is a growing movement that claims that dogs are not pack animals. Certainly, dogs are not wolves and have evolved to be very different from their evolutionary predecessors however dogs will generally do what is advantageous to them at the time.
The Northern Territory of Australia produces some wild and unique environments in which to examine dog behaviour outside of the domestic settings we generally consider them in. Dogs live in difficult conditions alongside humans and large numbers of other dogs, with food being a valuable resource.
Attached to this blog post are some links discussing attacks by packs of dogs on humans in the Northern Territory. The details surrounding some of these incidents have been personally confirmed to us by serving members of NTPOL – one of whom is a very knowledgable police dog handler.
The far left viewpoint of this discussion will say that dogs are not pack animals, and that there is no such thing as dominance (by whatever name or distinction) in dogs. The far right viewpoint is that all dogs are just wolves in fancy fur and that they see the world in a very hierarchical and ordered manner, and must be treated in a manner that evokes a dominant picture in the dog’s mind.
These articles certainly go a long way towards calling for a common sense based understanding of dogs and their propensity for pack behaviour. Once again, the reality is that ‘the truth’ is somewhere in the middle.