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Wolf Body language

(31 Posts)
frostedviolets Mon 06-Jul-20 16:53:13

What do you make of it?!

Really interested to hear people’s opinions.

Do you think it was territorial aggression, predatory behaviour, play etc?

I’ve watched it a few times and my initial thoughts were curiosity then play that was either too rough or veered off into predatory interest.

The initial approach didn’t look all that tense to me, eg, I didn’t see the immediate tense tail raising, hackles etc

They appear to freeze and do what to my eye looks a little like a play bow before chasing and appear to be nipping at the dog’s tail.

What do you think?

OP’s posts: |
MsMarvellous Mon 06-Jul-20 18:16:17

To my untrained eye it looks like part of a pack seeing off an intruder into their territory. No serious intent to fight, a shot across the bow if you will

Shambolical1 Mon 06-Jul-20 18:46:40

They wanted it gone from the get-go. That wasn't a curious or friendly approach.

tabulahrasa Mon 06-Jul-20 19:12:12

They look tense to me, tails up, those wee stiff tail wags, stiff leg movements, one of them does some stressy lip licking...

Don’t really know much about wolf body language though, but watching it as if they’re dogs, they don’t look happy.

frostedviolets Mon 06-Jul-20 19:40:53

Seems my wolf reading skills need some work!
Where was the lip licking?
I’ve just watched through again and couldn’t see it?

OP’s posts: |
PollyPolson Mon 06-Jul-20 19:54:04

Interesting I do not see this as aggression. I also do not see the lip licking

The wolves are mirroring the little dogs(?) movement and running alongside in an arc - which would usually be seen as play. They have loose body language to me. They move in a rocking horse motion which again is play movement. Their tails are up and the head is down and vice versa.

The bow and digging with front feet is absolutely a play invitiation.

The red dog runs off and the wolves mirror the behaviour. I feel the nipping if over excitement but not aggression.

PollyPolson Mon 06-Jul-20 19:55:02

sorry for typos hate my phone keyboard!

Ylvamoon Mon 06-Jul-20 19:56:32

Definitely a case of chaising awaythe dog. It looks like they don't want the dog to cross some invisible line.

PollyPolson Mon 06-Jul-20 20:02:58

This video caused some academics to get National Geographic to retrack its original article saying the wolves were out to hunt the dog..

I'll see if I can find the follow up video with commentary

tabulahrasa Mon 06-Jul-20 20:57:23


Seems my wolf reading skills need some work!
Where was the lip licking?
I’ve just watched through again and couldn’t see it?

about 10 seconds in, the one at the front yawns, looks at the other two and I’m pretty sure licks it’s lips...

I’m on my phone though, so it might be the yawn that’s making me think I see a lip lick - but to be fair, the yawn itself I’d read as stressy...

tabulahrasa Mon 06-Jul-20 21:03:04


This video caused some academics to get National Geographic to retrack its original article saying the wolves were out to hunt the dog..

I'll see if I can find the follow up video with commentary

They don’t look like they’re hunting it to me, to me it looks like they’re all a bit tense at the strange dog, and relax a bit when the dog is obviously not up for a fight and then they chase it off.

But I genuinely haven’t a clue how different dog and wolf body language is... I didn’t even know if wolves wagged tails or if it’s a retained juvenile behaviour or what.

frostedviolets Mon 06-Jul-20 21:07:41

There is indeed a small yawn.
I don’t know how you spotted it!
I had to watch it multiple times to spot!

Who knows what the real intentions were but I think I still am of the view that their intentions were not violent and the nips were either overexcitement or a bit of predatory instinct creeping in, predatory drift is it called?

OP’s posts: |
tabulahrasa Mon 06-Jul-20 21:22:46

“I don’t know how you spotted it!”

Not going to lie, mostly I just happened to be watching that wolf when it yawned, rofl... but also they were all acting like dogs I’ve dealt with that were reactive, but subtler with signals than what most people seem to look for.

GrumpyMiddleAgedWoman Mon 06-Jul-20 21:24:21

I'd say they were highly stimulated, and they could have killed that dog if they'd wanted to.

GrumpyMiddleAgedWoman Mon 06-Jul-20 21:28:13

Posted too soon...
But they didn't want to. I don't think it was a predatory approach but that whole ears up tail up thing isn't necessarily friendly. That dog was seen off their turf.

All that said, I don't know much about wolf body language.

frostedviolets Mon 06-Jul-20 21:35:12

that whole ears up tail up thing isn't necessarily friendly
Agreed, though my dog isn’t usually great with other dogs.
I know she definately 100% won’t get on with another dog when I see the tail raised right up straight and rigid and fluffed out, sometimes wagging very stiffly which is something I was looking for in the wolves.

She’ll have the ears up, but then like a wolf she is naturally prick ear so she naturally carries them that way.

But I saw tails mostly neutral in the footage with some raising but not that stiff, rigid raise I’ve seen in my own dog and the wolf wags appeared to be more relaxed which is what made me veer towards to curiosity/playfulness

OP’s posts: |
Shambolical1 Mon 06-Jul-20 22:09:32

The yawning wolf on the left is the most unsure. If you watch it, it stays back behind the other two and then climbs up the hillside. By the time the dog escapes through the fence it's way back up.

By the time the three wolves first come to a stop and the left one of the pair does the bow-and-scrape manoevre, they all have their hackles up. Just after the yawn, both the yawning wolf and the right of the pair turn and look at the left scrape-y one. And then they go.

The reason I don't think it's play as we would understand it is that the dog doesn't believe a word of the 'play bow' and knows it's in trouble. I think these are young, inexperienced wolves and this is more a 'rehearsal' than play.

The bites are bring-down attempts aiming at the spine. If the gap in the fence hadn't been there, probably even the timid guy up top would have got involved.

There's a bit of a kerfuffle when they all double back and I can't quite see if it's the scrape-y wolf or the other of the pair that presses home the attack.

Fascinating though. I came across a video from the same area where a horse is pottering about having a nice roll in the snow and there are several wolves around it, totally ignoring it. Some are lying down with their backs to it. One starts out of the way when the horse gets up and that's it. They look about the same size and age as the dog chasers.

GrumpyMiddleAgedWoman Tue 07-Jul-20 07:35:10

Yes - the dog is very sure that it is under threat.

CrowdedHouseinQuarantine Tue 07-Jul-20 07:38:46

They were menacing, extremely, the dog knew this and managed to escape.

Sitdowncupoftea Tue 07-Jul-20 12:14:02

I would say it was a lucky dog. They were toying with it in a menacing way judging by their tail position and behaviour.

JesusInTheCabbageVan Tue 07-Jul-20 12:25:05

If I was the 'owner' of the wolves, I'd be panicking from the get-go and desperately trying to get them under control before it turned into a blood-bath. Maybe wolves have slightly edgier play behaviour, but I found that tense viewing!

JesusInTheCabbageVan Tue 07-Jul-20 12:25:36

Fascinating video though, thanks OP.

JesusInTheCabbageVan Tue 07-Jul-20 12:29:23

Having re-watched, I would say it started off as hunting for fun (but still hunting). Like they were testing the water.

Soubriquet Tue 07-Jul-20 12:31:29

Yeah I agree

They wanted that dog gone but they didn’t want to do the aggressive stance unless they had to

They were assertive, and were clearly drawing the line

If that dog crossed that line, then they may have bitten, but as it was, they were just saying “I see you. You’re fine if you stay there. Come closer though and you’re in trouble”

weaselwords Tue 07-Jul-20 12:40:31

They look like they are hazing the dog. Testing it out. If it had gone on much longer it would have got nasty, as the nip to the tail was the start of the wolves escalating things. They weren’t full on aggressive and if the dog had been more confident when the one play bowed it may have been more friendly, but the dog saw a threat and reacted as such so they started ramping things up.

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