Dominance aggression within a pack
Dominance - high status in a social group, usually acquired as the result of aggression, that involves the tendency to take priority in access to limited resources, as food, mates, or space.
Aggression - any offensive action, attack, or procedure; an inroad or encroachment: an aggression upon one's rights.
So; putting the two together results in a direct challenge. It does not mean that there will be a bite but it definitely implies there may be if needed. Not all dominance is obtained via aggression. Dominance is a state of being; more so than an aggressive display. Unfortunately the term dominance has been tarnished by it's overuse in the world of dog behavior.
Being dominant is not a bad thing; it just is. What does matter is the particular dominant individuals state of mind and leader qualifications. My boy Luke is a dominant dog but he has no skills and everything is issued with an overly inflated ego and lack of true confidence. So in this house I keep him in his place and will not allow him to be a top ranking dog, he just doesn't deserve it. He would make a poor leader and I know that.
When aggression shows up within a pack; what happens next really depends on the rest of the pack and the human leader. Dogs communicate very clearly and we often miss signals that have been thrown very fast at one another. As a canine guardian it is your job to have your pack running smoothly and that can be alot of work. It definitely means you must know what is going on. Is everyone chill with their status?
Not all dogs are meant to be nor do they want to be the leader. Many dogs are just fine and dandy being a middle man or beta position in wolf terminology. When you are compiling a pack it is very important to pick the right type of dogs to live together. There have been many times when a guardian must place a member of the pack for their own safety. Many times when a verdict cannot easily be reached between fighting pack members; death is a very real possibility. Thus placing a dog is the best option for everyone involved.
Having an easy pack is very enjoyable. But it is not solely about the pack and very much about the human guardian. What you allow and do not allow in a pack makes a big difference. Are you a calm and understanding leader or do you send nerves running through the pack because of your inconsistencies?
In my pack Jessie is the dominant dog; and at nearing 13 and only 15lbs (okay a pudgy 17lbs right now) she needs my assistance to hold onto her status. Tilley is a wonderful Beta dog; she is perfectly fine with being in the middle. Luke pushes Jessie and Tilley occasionally but is quickly reminded that it is not happening. He is very respectful of me; which is extremely important.
Dominance in itself is not a bad thing. A dominant display may be okay in the rudimentary stages; maybe a hard stare or growl but that is as far as it should go. Anything further would be considered aggression and typically brought on from another member not listening. When everyone listens to the top dog; there is no need for further action. Even lower pack members will communicate dislikes with growls; depending on what those details are is when I step in or not.
But I feel very strongly that communication must be allowed with dogs. If you take away lazer stares or growls then they are left with no means of communication. Being punished for these mentioned behaviors can lead to a dog that goes right to the bite.
A happy pack is so much fun to live with; you just have to be on top of it. :)