Is your dog a furry fiend? Take our quiz to find out if your pup is an alpha, beta, or omega! But beware – some of the results may shock you.
In this article, we’ll talk about the myth of the “Alpha” or pack leader and explain why it’s important to seek professional help if your dog displays any dominant behaviors.
Is My Dog Alpha, Beta, or Omega Quiz
1.) My dog bullies other dogs.
2.) My dog paws me for attention.
3.) My dog barks a lot.
4.) My dog barks more than anyone any time, anywhere, should have to bear.
5.) My dog steals my food.
6.) My dog is not house-trained.
7.) My dog thinks little kids should be eaten for lunch.
8.) My dog runs away.
9.) I am scared if my dog got out, that the dog would never come back.
10.) We crate the dog at night so he does not murder us in our sleep.
11.) My dog is plotting world domination.
12.) My dog thinks he is boss over the kids.
13.) My dog pees in the house out of spite.
14.) My dog is alpha with people, but not other dogs.
15.) My dog is alpha with other dogs, but not people.
16.) My dog thinks it owns all the food on the planet.
17.) My dog thinks it owns all the toys all the time.
18.) My dog humps other dogs.
19.) My dog humps anything and everything, including the crack in the couch and the crack of dawn.
20.) I am afraid I would be missing digits if I rolled over and touched my dog while we were sleeping.
21.) I can’t take anything away from my dog.
22.) My dog kills small animals.
23.) My dog is fine with me but no one else.
24.) I can’t have people over because my dog is alpha.
25.) I can’t have people over because my dog won’t let me.
26.) I can’t date because my dog is too jealous.
27.) My dog has to sit between my partner on the couch and me.
28.) My dog doesn’t do what I think even though I know she can.
29.) My dog waits to get on the agility field to blow off jumps to show me she is the boss.
30.) My dog always follows me, leans, and sits on me.
Furry Friend or Furry Fiend!
Okay, I’ll confess, the quiz was tongue-in-cheek and intended as a bit of fun for a rainy afternoon!
Suppose your dog displays any of those dominant behaviors. In that case, I strongly recommend that you get some advice from a canine behavior expert or training professional to teach your unruly canine companion how to behave.
Meanwhile, you must use leashes, crates, and gates to control the situation for your safety and that of your furry friend!
Alpha Dog Fact or Fiction?
The term “Alpha” or pack leader is somewhat overused and outdated.
It’s true that some dogs exhibit aggressive and dominant behaviors, usually because they’ve been abused, not properly socialized, or haven’t been trained correctly or at all. However, that doesn’t make those dogs Alphas in a household or pack. That behavior just makes the dogs unpleasant to be around and downright dangerous.
Dogs react in certain ways for different reasons, but much of the so-called Alpha behavior you see is triggered by fear.
I once owned a dog that had been abused and abandoned as a puppy. He was fine with me but would bark and show aggressive behavior if anyone approached us in the car, and he was very suspicious around strangers.
That behavior was purely about experiential learning rather than my dog’s attempts to become the Alpha in our mini pack of two.
The Domestic Pack
The notion that dogs regard their human family as their “pack” comes from the knowledge that domestic dogs are descended from gray wolves.
So, let’s put the record straight on a few of those urban myths about pack behavior.
Myth 1: Wolves Form Packs With a Clear Social Hierarchy
Sometimes, that’s true, but not always. Those assumptions are based on the behavior of captive wolves whose pack structure is artificial, with the pack members coming from many different locations and lineages.
Following much research and field study, wolf ethologist L David Mech concludes that social interactions in wolf packs are pretty much the same as in any group of related individuals.s
Essentially, the wolf pack is a family where parents use inherited, instinctive behavior to guide the younger members and shape their behaviors. Striving to be dominant in the pack is not a priority, whereas teaching the younger members is.
In some areas, food can be scarce, especially in winter, so it makes sense for an experienced hunter to become the natural leader for the less experienced pack members.
So, you might see a mature female wolf leading the pack on hunts. That doesn’t make her the Alpha leader but merely means she’s an experienced successful hunter teaching the younger pack members how it’s done.
Myth 2: Dogs Must Form Packs Where Individuals Vie for Dominance
Although it’s true that dogs and wolves share the same genetic material, the two are different ecologically, earning their living in different ways.
For example, wolves hunt and take down large prey items to survive, whereas domesticated dogs live in partnership with their human owners.
Recent studies suggest that humans didn’t try to tame wild wolves.
Instead, it’s much more likely that dogs gradually evolved from a wolf-like ancestor to fill an ecological niche as a result of human behavior. That niche appeared at the end of the last Ice Age, around 15,000 years ago, when humans formed villages, each having a garbage dump.
Wolves started scavenging on the local dump rather than having to hunt, which was dangerous and tiring. Wolves with more confident personality traits didn’t run away when humans approached, giving them an advantage since they got to eat more.
Over thousands of years, a species evolved to approach rather than avoid humans. It’s important to understand that your dog’s ancestors didn’t have an organized pack structure and didn’t hunt collectively.
Since other dogs were competitors for valuable food resources, those pups were solitary or lived in small groups of two or three rather than large packs where social status was important.
Myth 3: Dogs Incorporate Their Owners Into Pack Hierarchies
It’s been disproved that owners can only solve behavioral problems in their dogs once they’ve become established as the Alpha in their mixed-species pack.
Rather than using physical force on your dog simply because you read that Alpha-ranked wolves use that behavior to discipline subordinates, try educating your dog by rewarding desirable behaviors or distracting him.
For example, when my Shih-Poo puppy grabs something to chew that’s not his, I firmly tell him, “No!” and give him one of his favorite toys instead.
There’s no evidence to suggest that dogs regard us as part of their species-specific ranking at all. Like his more recent wild ancestors, your dog is simply a social animal dependent on you for food and shelter.
So, teach your dog a few basic commands, use obedience training to cure any antisocial behavior issues, and forget about that mythical Alpha role!
You can read more about understanding your dog’s evolution and behavior in this fascinating book.
Meanwhile, stick to training your dog using positive reinforcement and reward-based training techniques rather than trying to act as pack Alpha in a pack that doesn’t exist in your dog’s eyes!
Here are the answers to a few of your questions about Alphas in the pack!
Q: How do you know which dog is dominant?
A: A dominant dog will push you and other dogs out of the way to get through doorways or when you’re leaving the house.
The boss dog will take the best sleeping space or push other dogs out of theirs.
Dominant dogs tend not to give much attention to their pack mates and get jealous when other family members receive your attention. Some dogs exert their dominance by mounting the other dogs in the home or humping your leg!
Q: What gender is alpha in dogs?
A: In wild dogs, there tends to be both a male and female alpha. However, in a domestic situation, the gender of the alpha can be male or female, depending on the dog’s personality.
Q: What is a dominant dog’s body language?
A: Confident, dominant dogs have a positive, strong body position. They are alert with a rigid tail and muscles, and the fur might be slightly raised along the back and neck.
The dog will make direct eye contact, his mouth will be closed, and he might growl softly.
Did you enjoy our fun Alpha, Beta, or Omega quiz? If you did and your eyes were opened by the factual information about your canine companion’s evolution, please share the article.
So, even though your dog evolved from wild gray wolves, he doesn’t regard anyone in your family as the pack’s Alpha. It’s more the case that your furry friend feels you as his family, security, and provider.
Rather than trying to show your dog that you’re the Alpha or pack leader, use reward-based, positive reinforcement training techniques to correct undesirable behavior and ensure your dog is properly socialized from a puppy.
What do you think of the myth-busting in this article? Tell us your opinion in the comments box below.