David Mech on Leadership 5.0

Objectives

What is leadership in ethology?

How does it relate to roles within the group?

How does it relate to dominance?

How does this apply to dog trainers?

This lecture uses these two publications as references (combines observations from 1986-1999):

Mech, L. David. 2000. Leadership in Wolf, Canis lupus, packs. Canadian Field-Naturalist 114(2):259-263.

Rolf O. Peterson, Amy K. Jacobs, Thomas D. Drummer, L. David Mech, and Douglas W. Smith, 2002. Leadership behavior in relation to dominance and reproductive status in gray wolves, Canis lupus   

What is leadership as defined in ethology?

Mech (1970:73) defined leadership among Wolves as “… the behavior of one Wolf that obviously controls, governs, or directs the behavior of several others” such as when Wolves decide on direction of travel, when to rest or travel, and whether to chase prey.  Peterson (1977) and Haber (1977) adopted similar definitions.

How does it relate to roles within the group?

This info is taken from Leadership in Wolf, Canis lupus, Packs

Awakening and initiating foraging

Traveling

It is not necessarily about being "first":

In simple groups, the breeding pair always leads:

Hunting

It is not about being or eating first:

Provisioning the Pack


Protection

Pure threat (not competition)

Territorial aggression (intolerance/competitors) - refer to Schenke1 1967)

How does leadership correlate with dominance?

Observed and recorded over 3 winters

Dominance correlates with leadership. Here is the abstract from Leadership behavior in relation to dominance and
reproductive status in gray wolves, Canis lupus 

Leadership parameters for this study?

Nonfrontal Leadership

Very significant!

Always the dominant pack members, except for one wolf prior to dispersing from the pack.

Conclusion about dominance and leadership correlation

Suggestion-makers vs Deciders

How does information about published leadership/dominance observation help professional dog trainers?

  • summary
    • dominance is control of limited resources
    • Leadership is making decisions for the group
    • the same reasons why this makes sense to breeding a pair of wolves for a functioning family is the same for the domesticated versions
  • Go with mother nature
    • Be the decision-maker (leader)
      • suggestions are OK but keep the balance and clarity obvious with your daily planning and interaction
    • Be in control of limited resources (dominant)
      • This will reduce conflict in a trickle-down effect
    • Leadership/dominance sets the stage for a more natural way to guide dogs and train obedience with less conflict/opposition
  • A reminder of what it is not important
    •  being "first" out doors
    • eating "first"

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