Debunking the label with Kirsten Dillon - Part 1
DEBUNKING THE LABEL WITH KIRSTEN DILLON
Is there truth in the label?
Dogs are often labelled ‘domesticated wolves’ or described as being descended from wolves and as such are sometimes thought of as hunters.
The truth of the matter is that none of the above is actually true. Our domestic pet dogs shared a common ancestor with today’s wolves, but the species split away from that common ancestor, and some of the resulting animals went on to develop into wolves and some to become our domestic dogs.
Although there are some similarities, there are also very important differences.
Why does this matter?
It matters hugely when we are training and communicating with our dogs as it is vital we leave behind the whole idea of pack leadership and dominance over our pets.
Dogs do not form packs, so how can you be a ‘pack leader’ over them? It’s a bit like saying you want to be a flock of sheep’s’ pack leader, you can’t if they don’t have a pack. Flock leader doesn’t quite have the same appeal. Plus, the traditional wolf pack dominance theories have all been disproven and the original author has retracted his work, stating that packs have an Alpha etc.
Feral, free ranging dogs commonly found in other countries are the closest thing we have to being able to study our pet dog’s natural behaviours as dogs have no wild peers (picture the town and village rubbish dumps).
Looking at these free ranging groups is where we learn the most
Recently we have learned that dogs sleep a lot more than we once thought, they form very fluid groups that obtain and lose ‘members’ according to how much food is available. The most common dynamic witnessed is a pair that wander around together.
So how does this affect what we feed our dogs?
Well a wolf is a carnivore, the same as a dog. Whilst wolves alone are hunters, both dogs and wolves are classified as foraging scavengers (I think we can all attest to this, especially those of us with dogs big enough to reach the kitchen counters!).
BUT – studies have shown that to get the absolute best nutrition, a dog should eat a diet that varies slightly from its distant cousin. Domestic dogs have been found to have two genes that differ from wolves’ and these genes mean that a diet that includes some dairy, fruit and vegetable matter is required for optimum health.
Thankfully for us, the clever people at Natural Instinct have all this worked out for us, so we are able to feed a species appropriate diet with just the right amount of everything our pet needs, with no effort!
Tune in for September’s blog where we will use this information to ensure we have the happiest, most fulfilled pet dogs possible.