Some of our Akitas currently looking for new homes.

Akita Behaviour & Temperament - Page 5



Any dog in its relationship with other dogs and with people fits onto a scale of what is most often called "dominance behavior." At the upper end is the dog that does what he wants when he wants and enforces his will if he is thwarted--the alpha, the most dominant dog. At the lower end is the dog that seems to have no ego strength at all-the omega or most submissive one.

Perhaps this component of behavior is better viewed as acceptance of authority. Many people want strong, brave Akitas and are afraid that a submissive dog will be everyone's doormat. In fact, the relationships formed between dogs themselves and between dogs and humans are very complex and very fluid, subject to change depending on circumstances. Also important to understanding the significance of such measures is the character of the breed itself. A dominant Rottweiler is a very different dog from a dominant Papillon. A submissive Akita is not the same thing as a submissive Chihuahua.

The Pack Incorporated

The roots of dominance behavior are found in the dynamics of the pack, the social unit into which canines organize themselves. Observations of naturalists have given us great insight into how the pack functions. These have been done in the wild on wolves and coyotes and in academic settings, on dogs.

They show us an organization that in many ways is analogous to one of our corporations. At the top is the pack leader, the CEO. He is responsible for the welfare of the group and charged with its protection. His perks are commensurate with his responsibility. He gets first pick of the food and gets as much as he wants. Everyone looks up to him and curries his favor. Unless a corporate takeover is in the works, no one challenges his authority in the slightest way.

At the bottom of the corporate ladder is the fellow who has virtually no status, either personally or as a result of his position He's the step-n-fetchit for anyone who gives him an order. While the CEO may have a genuine liking for this guy and may even share the table with him once in a while, you can bet the rest of the group will have very little social interaction with such a low- status individual.

In fact, among the lower-status members is an element of contentment. They know their place and keep it. Friction occurs most frequently in the middle and upper management individuals. Always trying to move up the ladder means exchanging places with someone else, so they may well scrap and squabble. Too serious a fight might draw the attention of the CEO, however, so fights are more to intimidate than to damage. If the head honcho does intervene, his discipline is quick, sure, and accepted by the offending parties.



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