• Arthur Lopatin

    June 7, 2023 at 11:11 am


    “Ritualized aggression is when animals use a range of behaviours as posture or warning but without engaging in actual aggression, which is expensive in terms of energy and the risk of injury. Ritualized aggression involves a graded series of behaviours or displays that include threatening gestures (such as vocalizations, spreading of wings or gill covers, lifting and presentation of claws, head bobbing, tail beating, lunging, etc.) and occasionally posturing physical actions such as inhibited (non-injurious) bites.”

    p.s. – related thoughts: those 2 wolves are littermates. i believe they were raised from birth in wolfpark. if i remember right, schenkel’s captive wolves were unrelated. not sure what age each of schenkel’s wolves was when brought to the basel zoo. also, wolfpark is big, like 7 acres. the basel zoo enclosure looks a lot smaller.

    also, i wonder about diffs. bt. basel zoo and wolfpark vis a vis human interactions w/wolves. i believe wolves raised from puppyhood in close contact w/humans differ, to at least a limited extent, from wild wolves. i betcha the guy in the vid knew those wolves since they were babies, which makes a difference.

    related: shaun ellis, the man who lived with wolves. book and vid on youtyube. ellis raised a bunch of wolves and lived w/them, like a wolf for several years. he behaved like a wolf. looked like one. smelled like one. he was the pack leader. used ritualized aggression to express his leadership/dominance. he had to leave his ‘pack’ for a week or two. when he returned, he realized he could not be leader anymore, because if he tried, the most dominant young wolf would challenge and kill him. so he submitted, behaving exactly like a submissive wolf.

    also, puppies and adult dogs often use ritualized aggression when they play. of course, things can go easily go south. depends on dogs. depends on owners’ leadership skills, how well-trained the dogs are and the temperament of the dogs.

    most of this stuff is, i guess, not directly relevant to what dog trainer need to do most of the time with most dogs and owners. like mike said in his comment: lots of times ya just have to have a good, ‘fido. leave it.’ or another command to defuse / forestall a potentially dangerous situation.

    that said, imo knowing about wolf behavior, captive and wild, can broaden / deepen our understanding of dog behavior, which can help you train cynopraxically, not just ‘make’ fido do what you want.