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Many dog owners notice that whenever they pat or stroke their dog on the head or neck, it flinches or tries to duck away slightly. Sometimes a very insecure dog will even react violently to the attempted affection. What's the reason for this fear? Like most aspects of canine behaviour, it dates back to the wolf pack.

The head and neck are the most vulnerable parts of a dog, and it's quite easy to kill a dog by striking it in these areas. Because of this, the pack leaders would show dominance over their subordinates by placing their paws on the subordinate's neck. This shows that the leader has dominance - it's showing that it knows how to destroy its subordinates.

Because most domestic dogs live in constant turmoil, not knowing who the leader of the pack is, they will be frightened by this action. If, however, the dog knows its place, and knows without question who the leader of the pack is, it won't flinch. It knows it has done nothing wrong and that the leader will not destroy it.

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