A blog about my life with dogs.......

Monday, March 26, 2012


     I saw this youtube video and found it very interesting. For one, ouch! It looks like this greeting was a little uncomfortable for the woman involved! These are, as you can see, wolves, not dogs. These are wolves in a zoo and are displaying tail wagging, face licking behavior upon the return of a human they have bonded with. In the background towards the end of the clip some of the wolves are displaying behavior of aggression/dominating or submitting/appeasing to each other. It gets me thinking about groups of wolves......

     Often wolves in zoos are not a natural pack, or family group, like what would be found in the wild. Zoo wolves are often individual wolves grouped together that are not family. It is thought that aggressing between group members, creating a constant struggle for power between each other  is caused, in theory, by this false group dynamic as well as the stress of zoo life. As some of you know, this behavior of one wolf  standing aggressively over another wolf, is what the whole dominance training "hold your dog down and force them to submit" mumbo jumbo is based upon. The constant, aggressive combat for power displayed in captive wolves is now thought to not be a natural behavior displayed by wolves (and then thought, to be passed down as a natural behavior for our dogs, hence the dominance theory based "alpha roll"). It has become popular belief that this wolf behavior, of  group members being aggressively ladder climbing/power hungry, is not natural at all, but a struggle created by humans when we pushed non family groups to live together as packs in zoos.
     This following documentary segment shows an established wolf pack, known as "The Druids" (which by the way, was formed initially by humans who picked wolves from Canada, attached tracking device collars to them and then released them in Yellowstone National Park). At one point the commentator notes that the pack has "a constantly shifting power struggle". But, if you watch the whole Wild Wolf 1,2,3, 4and 5(available on YoutTube) you will notice that once established the male and female rein for years. The commentators even take notice of the alpha male and females age, and their graying fur. Certainly the younger, more spry wolves could challenge them, kill them and take over, but they do not. Instead, as shown in this segment the younger wolves willingly submit to the elders. These wolves follow a family order, respecting the groups leaders. Wild wolves kill prey and aggressively defend territory from other packs, the pack functions as a family group amazingly well. Without team work, this group would not succeed in as many ways as they have. For certain, functioning in a pack is advantageous for the group members.

     Our dogs, they are not wolves. But isn't it amazing how their body language is so much the same! I find both creatures to be absolutely fascinating. Please, don't go thinking adding a wolf, or wolf dog hybrid is the next step on your big adventure(if you fancy any such ideas you must have missed the post where I recomend you read "Part Wild"). Like the wolf, your dog has found it advantageous to function in a pack. Your dogs pack may consist of mostly humans, a few other dogs, or a mix of both, but one thing is for certain:
Being a leader worth following is one of the best things you can do for your dog.

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