Dogs are the most successful animal evolution has ever produced. You might think it was humans, but think about the old Jerry Seinfeld joke. If you saw an animal walking down the street, with another animal walking behind it picking up its poop, who would you think was in charge?I actually have an observation from a couple of hours ago.I was out in the yard with all three dogs.One was in the kennel busy chewing her toy.Samson was snuffling around the perimeter while I was playing fetch with Misty.Samson decides HE wants to play with Misty and rushes up and grabs her by the throat.She totally ignores him even though he was pretty obnoxious pushing her around.She practically had a 'word balloon' over her head "Good Grief!What a pain little brothers can be!" (He's twice her size).
An outside observer might think he's a domineering bully.He couldn't convince her to wrestle so he gave it up and laid down to watch us resume our game.All three of them start wrestling games with each other in the same way,so in their group body slams and pretending to rip each other's throats out is just for fun.There's never a winner.When one wants to stop he or she just stops and looks away for a moment,the other ones pause a few seconds(Are you sure ?)Then they stop just like that.
wm97 mentioned one of his dogs liked to hoard chewables.Mine will do that too,mostly Misty,lol!She'll gather up all three bones and lay on them then give the other two the stink eye.After a while she'll back off a little and allow them to creep up and pick one up.They never fight,and yes I always supervise when they have bones to chew.When food is involved they are always polite and respectful.I'm fortunate to have a peaceful pack.
I can go catch rabbits and eat them myself, or I can have my servants bring me freshly prepared meat twice a day. If the bigger dog takes my food dish, I know my servant will yell at them and comfort me and probably give me an extra treat in front of the bully just to spite them. Who really needs dominance over anything?
Dogs succeed not because they are such great dominators themselves, but because they have learned how to cooperate with humans better than anyone else -- including other humans. The reason humans love dogs so much is because dogs spend all day long trying to please the humans. That behavioral trait doesn't just appear with humans. Dogs live by cooperation, not so much by dominance. If there is more than one dog in the house, they know they have to suppress the dominance in favor of whatever the human wants. If they beat up the little mutt or even treat it unfairly, they know it will be trouble. (And dogs do understand "fair" which is another thing to consider in thinking about dominance.) Same as you knew you couldn't beat up your little brother whenever he ticked you off so you are better off putting up with some of his BS.
Why does the ten pound mutt need protection when the big ones know they will get yelled at if they hurt her or even treat her unfairly? The big ones know it is better to sit and wait until one of the chew toys gets loose. That also tells you a lot about dog intelligence.