Wolves cooperate but dogs submit, study suggests

19 August 2014

For dog lovers, comparative psychologists Friederike Range and Zsófia Virányi have an unsettling conclusion. Many researchers think that as humans domesticated wolves, they selected for a cooperative nature, resulting in animals keen to pitch in on tasks with humans. But when the two scientists at the Messerli Research Institute at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna studied lab-raised dog and wolf packs, they found that wolves were the tolerant, cooperative ones. The dogs, in contrast, formed strict, linear dominance hierarchies that demand obedience from subordinates, Range explained last week at the Animal Behavior Society meeting at Princeton University. As wolves became dogs, she thinks, they were bred for the ability to follow orders and to be dependent on human masters.

Range and Virányi developed their new portrayal of dogs and wolves by giving a series of tests to socialized packs of mixed-breed dogs and wolves, four packs of each species, containing anywhere from two to six animals each. The scientists raised all the animals from about 10 days old at the Wolf Science Center in Game Park Ernstbrunn, Austria, living with them 24 hours a day until they were introduced to pack life, so that they were accustomed to humans.

Range and her colleagues tested the dogs’ and wolves’ tolerance for their fellow pack members with a mealtime challenge. The researchers paired a high-ranking dog with a low-ranking pack buddy and set out a bowl of food, then gave the same challenge to a pair of wolves. In every matchup, “the higher ranking dog monopolized the food,” Range told the meeting. “But in the wolf tests, both high- and low-ranking animals had access” and were able to chow down at the same time. At times, the more dominant wolves were “mildly aggressive toward their subordinates, but a lower ranking dog won’t even try” when paired with a top dog, Range said. “They don’t dare to challenge.”

Wolves also beat the hounds on tests that assessed whether the canids were able to follow the gaze of their fellows to find food. “They are very cooperative with each other, and when they have a disagreement or must make a group decision, they have a lot of communication or ‘talk’ first,” Range said.  The same was not true for the center’s dog packs; for even the smallest transgression, a higher ranked dog “may react aggressively” toward one that is subordinate.

Range and Virányi suspect that the relationship between dogs and humans is hierarchical, with humans as top dogs, rather than cooperative, as in wolf packs. The notion of “dog-human cooperation” needs to be reconsidered, Range said, as well as “the hypotheses that domestication enhanced dogs’ cooperative abilities.” Instead, our ancestors bred dogs for obedience and dependency. “It’s not about having a common goal,” Range said. “It’s about being with us, but without conflict. We tell them something, and they obey.”

“It’s wonderful work,” says James Serpell, an ethologist at the University of Pennsylvania. “But it’s not what the dog training community wants to hear; you can’t say the word ‘dominance’ around them. Does dominance exist as a phenomenon in dogs? The answer is clearly ‘yes,’ ” Serpell says, although he notes that there are breed differences. Other researchers, for example, have shown that when in packs, poodles and Labrador retrievers are more aggressive than are malamutes and German shepherds.     

Monique Udell, an animal behaviorist at Oregon State University, Corvallis, says her own study of dog and wolf behavior, also presented at the meeting, supports Range’s contention that dogs are waiting for orders. To find out if dogs are “independent problem solvers,” she presented 20 adult dogs (10 pets and 10 from shelters) with sealed containers of summer sausage. Each animal was allotted 2 minutes to open it. Ten captive wolves were given the same test. Not one of the adult dogs succeeded; most did not even try. Meanwhile, eight of the 10 wolves opened the container in less than 2 minutes. So did dog puppies, indicating that dogs are no less capable of the task than wolves, but “as the dog grows and becomes more dependent on its human owner that [independent] behavior is inhibited,” Udell said.

Underscoring the point, she found that adult pooches could open the container after all—when their human owner told them to do so. Because dogs “suppress their independence, it’s difficult to know what their normal problem-solving abilities are,” she told the meeting.

It may be that we have to give Fido a command to find out.


Anonymous asked:
hi could you give me any information on yukon wolves?? i can't find much of anything anywhere.

Hi, sure! Anything specific you want to know? (Before I start to sum up everything a simple Google search provides)

Ethiopian wolf (Canis simensis) by Will Burrard-Lucas

(Source: wolveswolves)

Anonymous asked:
I was wondering if wolves in Wolf Parks get real cakes or special meat cakes, you know, if they're celebrating something, there are videos and photos of caretakers giving wolves pieces of cake. Is it real cake with cream and such?

The cakes and pies they give to the wolves look like “human” cakes, but consist out of eatable stuff that’s okay for wolves. Usually just meat or egg cakes, but sometimes something fancier like carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, or pumpkins stuffed with piggy ears, or peanut butter fruit icecream… basically treats made of anything edible for wolves!





Anonymous asked:
Thank you so much for reply,and for hope. I feel a lot better now. Maybe I souldn't give up this easily,I reckon.I get why facilities like this aren't willing to allow such visits, but to answer theangry-vegan: this wolf cannot be released anyway,and they tried to get her used to people from the pup. Still it was rude what he said to me, because it sounded like I can't be interested in wolves if I don't have biology degree: assuming I know nothing. It's great you understand me and feel the same.

Glad you’re feeling better again :) Good luck with whatever is next!

Playing wolf pups by Bud Marschner

(Source: wolveswolves)

Arctic wolf pup (Canis lupus arctos) by Gary’s Photos

(Source: wolveswolves)

theangry-vegan asked:
To the anon: As someone who works at a wildlife rehabilitation center, I can tell you they get requests like this EVER DAY. In most places, it is illegal to let the public see/observe the animals on a daily basis, because it makes the animals very used to people and unable to be released. Please don't be discouraged by this organization, as they could have been much kinder, but maybe try to look for a sanctuary, where wolves are free to act like wolves, but do not have to have the same fear of

theangry-vegan said:

of humans as a wild animals needs to have. Best of luck! xx

Aww no bby!

I can imagine an animal resque facility isn’t the perfect spot for you to start, since they most of the time are extremely busy and are having an enormously hard time to maintain themselves. They most likely very often get similar requests from people, and since it doesn’t directly benefits their facility, they are compelled to say no - especially because people often aren’t very serious and dedicated. Still, that absolutely doesn’t justify his rudeness. I’m very sorry to hear he treated you that way.

If this really is the only place for you to see/study wolves, maybe you can propose a plan of you doing voluntary work for them and in exchange they can teach you something on wolves or whatever you’d want. This way you show you are serious about your goal and they will probably not write you off immediately.

If this doesn’t work, you could still go to one of their educational days and approach and talk to different people from the organisation there.

I know how you feel - I live in The Netherlands, there haven’t been any wild wolves here for over 150 years and there are no wolf centers or sanctuaries. I too have nowhere to start getting “serious” about my passion for wolves without any degrees in biology or whatsoever. But please don’t give up with just one setback. There are many practicable ways ahead, I promise! If there are wolf centers, parks or sanctuaries close to where you live (or in another country?), maybe you can visit, volunteer or even internship there - much better options than this one rescue facility. I know there are a lot of options to do so in Europe!

To answer your questions whether all people who work in the wolf science field in general see people like us as "wolfaboos"; definitely not! Although I can understand (note: understand, not agree) the outlook of the man you spoke with. The wolf is the animal that we people have the most extreme and divergent feelings for. People are rarely neutral on the issue - we either deeply hate it or intensely love the wolf. We all like to interfere with its future and we have very strong opinions on that. A lot of people tend to feel like they know what’s best for the wolf, despite their huge lack of knowledge on the wolf (and/or wildlife in general). Their interference and meddling on this issue has been a pain in the ass of wolf scientists for a long, long time - especially because wolf scientists often have to listen to what the public wants, while the public doens’t know at all what’s best for the wolf. It’s understandable they’re fed up with that.

Long story short: I think some people who work in the wolf science field are a bit wary and at first assume you’re one of those meddling people who think they know better, or a “wolfaboo” who thinks working with wolves means cuddling with them 24/7. I bet that when you show them you are determined and prove them wrong on this, they’ll be happy to share their knowledge with you!

I hope you’re a little calmed down by now and realised that guy was just a douchebag that’s not worthy of your time and see that this is not the end of the world. Don’t let them get you! Big wolf hugs xxxx

(Source: wolveswolves)

By pe_ha45

(Source: wolveswolves)

Iberian Wolf by Jaime San Roman Villalon

(Source: wolveswolves)



Ravens and wolves form social attachments with each other and take huge advantage of each other.

Both animals eat meat. When wolves killed a prey, ravens eat from the left over cadaver and scavenge it. Also, ravens lead wolves to preys or cadavers. The ravens fly and the wolves follow. Ravens also alert wolves to dangers.

They also play with each other. For example the ravens dive at the wolves and then speed away or peck their tails to try to get the wolves to chase them, or wolf cubs chasing after teasing ravens.

Dr. L. David Mech wrote in ‘The Wolf: The Ecology and Behaviour of an Endangered Species’: "It appears that the wolf and the raven have reached an adjustment in their relationships such that each creature is rewarded in some way by the presence of the other and that each is fully aware of the other’s capabilities."

Also very interesting: Bernd Heinrich wrote in ‘Mind of the Raven: Investigations and Adventures with Wolf-Birds’: "Ravens can be attracted to wolf howls. The wolves’ howls before they go on a hunt, and it is a signal that the birds learn to heed. Conversely, wolves may respond to certain raven vocalizations or behavior that indicate prey. The raven-wolf association may be close to a symbiosis that benefits the wolves and ravens alike. At a kill site, the birds are more suspicious and alert than wolves. The birds serve the wolves as extra eyes and ears."

Some videos: 
Raven Dances with Wolf Pup
Ravens taking a bath in the snow after stealing food from wolves
Crow teasing a wolf

(Picture by Michael S. Nolan)