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WOLVES: Communication Empty WOLVES: Communication

Post by Blythe on Tue Sep 13, 2016 12:19 pm

[guide title="Wolf Communication"]

[box]This guide will help you understand how wolves communicate with each other, using body language and facial expression.
Note: images are rather large and will need to be resized[/box]

[tit]The Relaxed Wolf[/tit]
[box]When a wolf is in a relaxed and neutral state, its tail hangs loosely, its ears are upright but neither perked nor pulled in either direction, its face may either be neutral or panting with calm, relaxed eyes, and its head will be carried low and horizontal to its body. [NOTE text="While dogs may carry their head upright normally, wolves generally do not; for them, a head held high is a signal of some sort"]

Image Examples:

[tit]How a Wolf Expresses...[/tit]
[box][ltwspoiler title=""][tit]Aggression and Fear[/tit]
[box]A canine's snarl may be one of the more well-known behaviors, everyone knows a snarling wolf is aggressive. However, some may not know that there is nuance to this aggression.

http://www.timberwolfinformation.org/kidsonly/posture/9.gif http://i68.tinypic.com/oirtj6_th.jpg

#*Keys Features of Aggression: Puckered lips (only front teeth and fangs show), direct stare, bristled fur, raised tail, upright and threatening posture

#*Key Features of Aggressive Fear: Lips are pulled back horizontally (revealing molars), no direct eye contact, may have 'whale eye' (revealed sclera/eye whites), flattened fur, tucked tail, body is carried low with submissive posture, tongue will often protrude and the wolf may lick its lips

These are just two extremes, describing high tension emotion. In most cases, it is a mix between the two, often described as a display of ambivalence (showing some signs of aggression/threat, but also signs of fear and submission), or sometimes the emotion is more subdued. Aggression are a wolf trying to avoid violence, rather than incite it. A wolf snarling and baring its fangs is giving a warning. It is not used when stalking or hunting, prey are never warned, simply chased, killed, and eaten.

Non-aggressive fear is very similar to aggressive fear, the main difference being that the wolf's teeth will not be bared and its behavior is more similar to that of a submissive wolf's. [link="http://img00.deviantart.net/3f55/i/2015/089/2/9/agression_vs_fear_in_wolves_cheat_sheet__snarls_by_kfcemployee-d8nr8e8.jpg" text="Here is a fantastic graphic that compares fear and aggression." title="artwork by KFCemployee of deviantART"]

Image Examples:

©Kati H. of dawnthieves - the wolf on top is displaying dominant behavior (such as holding its foreleg over the other wolf's body) while the one on bottom is displaying intense fear aggression, albeit without flattened ears. Its posture is very submissive, its lips are pulled very far back, exposing all its teeth, and if you look closely, its sclera are visible
©Kati H. of dawnthieves - aggression, see raised hackles, puckered lips, and forward ears
©Kati H. of dawnthieves - this wolf is displaying ambivalence, see its low defensive posture, forward but low ears, visible sclera, and half-drawn lips (molars only partially visible). Notably its tongue is protruding, another sign of nervousness.

[tit]Dominance and Submission[/tit]
[box]Dominance and submission play a key role in pack life. Wolves are not driven to dominate or submit and ranks within a pack are very fluid and not based in competition, thus dominance interactions are not very common in the wild, but they do occur. [Note text="Dominance interactions are more common in captivity, where packs are formed with unrelated individuals"]

http://www.timberwolfinformation.org/kidsonly/posture/14.gif http://www.timberwolfinformation.org/kidsonly/posture/16.gif http://www.timberwolfinformation.org/kidsonly/posture/11.gif

*#Key Features of Dominance: 'proud' stance with head held high, ears forward, eyes direct, and tail raised or level with the body, the body is loose, as opposed to the tense muscles an aggressive or defensive wolf may have, may display mild aggressive behavior, or impose itself on a submissive wolf (such as by putting the head or limbs over the other animal's body)

*#Key Features of Submission: low posture, flat ears, flat fur, does not make direct eye contact, and overall a non-threatening position. the tail is usually tucked or half-tucked. the wolf may flick its tongue

There are two primary forms of submission—active and passive submission. A wolf displaying active submission will assume a crouching posture with a low rump and half tucked or fully tucked tail. Its ears will be flattened and it will lick and nuzzle the dominant wolf around the mouth and nose.

Passive submission can be similar to active submission, with the crouching posture, but will not include the licking and nuzzling activity and the wolf's head will instead be carried low. The more extreme form of passive submission involves the submissive wolf rolling onto its back, presenting its vulnerable underbelly. Its paws will be usually be held over the chest, and its tail may or may not be tucked. In some cases, the submissive wolf may urinate, or press a paw into the dominant wolf's chest

Submissive behavior can overlap with non-aggressive, or even aggressive, fear.

Image Examples:
©Kati H. of dawnthieves - the wolf in focus is in a dominant posture, with an upright head, raised tail, and forward ears with a direct gaze.
©Kati H. of dawnthieves - while engaging in passive submission, the lying wolf's teeth are bared
©Bine G. of dawnthieves - typical passive submission
©Bine G. of dawnthieves - the bottom two wolves are engaging in active submission
©Bine G. of dawnthieves - the white wolf is displaying a form of passive submission, the other wolf, while not performing a submissive display, has its ears back and body tense and is certainly not in a dominant position

[box]Wolves love to play; it's one of their favorite group activities. When a wolf wants to play, it will initiate with a deep forward bow. This is known as the 'play bow' and serves as an invitation to other wolves. Wolves enjoy a game of chase (and often grab each other's tails), and often wrestle as well.

http://www.timberwolfinformation.org/kidsonly/posture/12.jpg http://www.timberwolfinformation.org/kidsonly/posture/15.gif

#*Key Features of Playfulness: loose relaxed posture, bright gentle eyes, mouth may hang open with tongue lolling, wolf may appear to 'smile' [Note text="there is a BIG difference between aggressive 'smiling' and playful 'smiling'! aggressive 'smiling' shows the teeth, particularly the upper teeth and gums, and there is much more tension in the face and around the eyes; happy and playful 'smiling' should have a very relaxed face with soft, tension-free features and no exposed teeth, except for bottom canines."], and head may be held upright. the tail will either be held straight out or wagging

Image Examples:

[tit]Tail Postures[/tit]
[box]http://www.timberwolfinformation.org/kidsonly/posture/1.gif A tail raised high like this is often a signal of dominance. if held stiffly, it may be a sign of intense aggression
http://www.timberwolfinformation.org/kidsonly/posture/2.gif A tail stiffly held horizontal to the body is a signal that the wolf is about to attack or is hunting.
http://www.timberwolfinformation.org/kidsonly/posture/3.gif When a wolf's tail wags, it is in a calm, pleasant mood. If the wag is more intense, it may be excited and feeling playful.
http://www.timberwolfinformation.org/kidsonly/posture/4.gif A tail held like this is partially relaxed, but not quite
http://www.timberwolfinformation.org/kidsonly/posture/5.gif If a wolf's tail is fully drooping like this, the wolf is fully relaxed
http://www.timberwolfinformation.org/kidsonly/posture/6.gif The tail is half-tucked, and is combined with a partially arched back. It is a submissive posture, used by a wolf to humble itself to another wolf.
http://www.timberwolfinformation.org/kidsonly/posture/7.gif A fully-tucked tail with a highly arched back is a sign of intense submission or fear[/box]

[box]Scenting is an extremely important part of canine communication. Wolves have many scent glands in various places in their bodies. They are located on the anus, on top of the tail ([link="http://66.media.tumblr.com/bdfecac52ad9d31d78046772f089739b/tumblr_inline_n0kwboopvJ1rpk3gm.jpg" text="which is covered by a dark mark" title="image from wolveswolves.tumblr.com"]), behind the ears, on the bottoms of the paws, and on the cheeks near the mouth. The scent glands serve an important purpose while communicating, providing each wolf with its own unique scent that tells other wolves everything they need to know about it.

To claim a territory, a wolf will mark the territory with its scent, to alert other wolves coming into the area that it is claimed land. They mainly use the scent glands in their pads and excrement (which is scented by the anal glands). A dominant pair will 'double-mark', with one wolf urinating over the other's scat and vise-versa. It is thought to strengthen the bond between the two wolves, and have them come to associate their union with each other with their combined marks.

Wolves also enjoy scent-rolling. If they find anything that has an interesting smell, be it carrion, flowers, or dung—anything that smells interesting to them—they will roll in it, collecting the scent in their fur so they can share the scent with their pack.[/box]

[box]While wolves use their bodies and scent as the main form of communication, they also vocalize and these sounds can be just as important to communication as their body language.

The most famous of vocalizations. Howling is primarily about togetherness in some way, whether it's to get the pack together for a hunt, mourning a lost pack member, or establishing a territory. Howls are primarily a pack activity, with one wolf initiating the howl and others joining in, exciting the pack with a rally. It appears the wolves find it obligatory to participate, even if the excitement results in some minor scuffles. Lone wolves will also occasionally howl, possibly to seek company. Howls can be heard from miles away, and can vary in length, pitch, and tone. It is noted that wolves often pause directly after a howl to listen for a response.

Wolves also bark, which is rare. A wolf may bark to its pups or pack to warn them if it senses danger, or it may bark or bark-howl to show aggression in defense to the pack and its territory. Growls are also used as a warning, but from the wolf to a threat. Growls are meant to ward away conflict and warn the threat that the wolf can and will bite if the threat does not go away. It may also be used to show dominance. Wolves can also whimper, usually used to show submissiveness to a dominant wolf, or it may be used by a mother to show its willingness to nurse its pups.


[box]Photographs are from dawnthieves.de, a fantastic stock image website, and from deviantART
Posture and tail drawings are from www.timberwolfinformation.org
Information is from various sources, notably (now defunct) wolfhowl.org, wolveswolves.tumblr.com, wolf.org, and livingwithwolves.org


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