Pack Mentality

To understand the Doberman, or any dog, one must understand certain deeply ingrained instincts. One of these core instincts is the Pack Mentality. Dogs run in packs. This is necessary for their survival. In nature, dogs and wolves live in highly organized communities usually consisting of family members. This community we call a pack.

The pack is capable of amazing cooperation. Lookouts are rotated. Hunting parties set out, track game, collaborately bring it down, then return home with stomachs full of food to regurgitate for the puppies. Wounded dogs are cared for and fed. Territory is established and protected. Dobermans, like all dogs, know instinctively the safest place for them is in a pack.

What makes the pack so efficient and organized is a strict hierarchy. Each dog knows his place in a linear structure of command with the alpha male and alpha female at the top. These two alphas are in charge of everything, when they sleep and where, how much they eat, when they hunt, when they drink, when they move to a different den. They are also the only pair in the pack that will breed, making the rest of the pack available to care for the puppies.

The pack hierarchy is maintained constantly through displays of dominance and submission. We see these displays continuously in our pet dogs both with each other and toward us. Contrary to some inexperienced assumption, maintenance of the pack hierarchy rarely includes actual fighting. This is one of the packs strengths. In fact, a strong Alpha will not allow his members to waste energy fighting and will stop such fights if the occurrs - as should any good dog owner.

Alpha dogs are rare. Not all dogs are born with the temperament to take on the stressful and difficult responsibility of leading a pack. Non-alpha dogs who find themselves leading a pack will be stressed and unhappy. Also, alphas are not simply the strongest physically. Physical strength is necessary but so is mental strength. Like any leadership position - ideally, the leader is there because he knows best.

The Pack Mentality is so strong that we see packs form among stray dogs. Lone dogs will gravitate toward other superior dogs or people. It is common for packs to form of several different breeds.