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To help in understanding pack behavior, let’s start with a little look at the past of dogs. It is mostly agreed nowadays by experts that dogs are indeed direct descendants of wolves. Studies in the recent past show they share 99.8% of their DNA in common, debunking theories that dogs could be products of cross-breeding between wolves and jackals or coyotes.
Whether dogs resulted from direct domestication efforts of wolves by humans in the distant past, or some wolves deciding association with humans would be beneficial, may never be known with certainty. (Having had the pleasure of observing wolves in the wild, I think the second theory is unlikely, but it could have happened in very dire circumstances I suppose.)
To understand pack psychology we must study wolves, since they are a classic example. They naturally live in packs, usually three or more, but sometimes two. The “Lone Wolf” phrase has some basis in fact, but it has rarely been observed in nature, except when a young male has been run off after challenging the leader and losing. Even in that case, the “Lone Wolf” tries to join another pack as soon as possible.
The leader of the pack was usually the largest, strongest male, and has been designated by researchers as the “Alpha male”. The pack members willingly follow his lead, until at some point a young, strong upstart challenges his lead successfully.
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