This is a debated topic. There are conflicting views, some believe in it, some don’t. Some say domestic dogs are bred out of pack structure ideals while others believe it still exists. We have an article that goes into more detail on the Pack Structure Debate if you would like to read it. You may know nothing about it, you may be on the fence or you may have chosen a side. It is an interesting topic so you may enjoy the article.
The basics of what we have found is that if a person has an eager to please dog it can appear pack structure and types don’t exist. If a person has a difficult dog then they may find help in the pack structure ideology. Even if a person has an eager to please dog they may still want to learn about this ideology as it helps to keep their dog safe in preventing dog attacks.
If you abide by Pack Structure Ideology there are 3 main Dog Types:
Some people will say "Go ahead let your dog up on furniture, no problem". Other people will say "Never let your dog up on furniture, they will become aggressive and bite you". Knowing your different Dog Types will help explain the confusion.
Let's do a quick explanation on the 3 and then go into more detail.
1. Alpha -
2. Beta -
3. Omega -
There are many dogs that are allowed up on furniture their whole lives and never have an issue. We have also work with very dominant dogs and we have one client who has scars up her arm and across her chest from being attacked by her own dog for trying to get into her own bed.
For Companion Dogs get an Omega or at the most a low Beta if you are good at following rules.
For a Working Dog for certain applications, mainly where high drive or aggression is needed, you will want to get an Alpha. As a Working Service Dog for people with disabilities you would want an Omega or Low Beta.
If you do have a Beta or an Alpha you may find these Pack Structure Rules helpful if you follow them. For difficult dogs this seems to help them see you as the leader and increase their respect for you.
A Better Understanding of the Categories
If you were to look at a dog or several dogs what would you look for to determine if they were Alpha, Beta or Omega? After working with hundreds of dogs you will see patterns. These appear to be the indicators. Keep in mind you can see a dog that strongly displays one category but does one thing to indicate they would be in another. So let’s say if a dog showed a bunch of Omega qualities but did one Beta quality we would define that dog as a Low Level Beta. If it did an even amount of Omega and Beta qualities we would probably define that dog as Mid Level Beta. If that dog did all Beta qualities then we would probably define that dog as High Level Beta.
These outlines are not a definitive guide. We have seen cases where something happens and it is the complete opposite to what you have always seen before. You are looking for multiples of these items.
A very simple guideline: If the dog focuses on you and is always trying to please then they are an Omega. If the dog likes to test you a bit from time to time but does pretty well overall with training they are a Beta. If the dog shows any aggression especially under 1 year of age and you just feel like you don’t trust them and you have a very hard time training them they are often Alpha.
We will try to refine these as time goes on. As we mentioned there is a lot of debate over them. More research needs to be done to clarify.
Helpful Tip: Sometimes a person may have what seems to be a high level Beta or Alpha. They can be struggling with them and they will often get a lot of advice from other people. Often times these other people have not worked with as difficult a dog as this person has. The advice they offer can sometimes cause problems to get worse such as “you should let your dog greet more dogs on leash or go to the off-