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Wolf Ethology, a pictorial study on Wolf behaviour – by Maria Ferguson

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I had a few opportunities this past month to capture some typical behaviour exhibited by our Wolf pack with my camera.  I thought you would enjoy learning about them while being able to see what they look like.

Our Wolves are still in the breeding season.  Many of the behaviors shown below are exaggerated at this time of year.

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Soliciting - this behavior is often seen when a Wolf is begging food from another.  This is Ohoyo trying to get Wa-ta-chee's bone even though she has a few of her own. Soliciting response- Wa-ta-chee appears to be nervous as he is flicking his tongue.  He really doesn't want to share his bone but she is his Alpha female and he is torn.
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Tracking - A Wolf's sense of smell is very strong.  We will often see Wolves with their noses to the ground following a scent of a human or another Wolf. Greeting - Watachee, the Alpha Male has approached the subordinate male Waya.  Waya must greet him properly by lowering himself sometimes to the ground as seen in this picture.
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Nose nudge - Waya is being respectful and submissive to the Alpha, Wa-ta-chee.  He is gently pushing upward with his nose to rub against him. Soft Muzzle bite - Wa-ta-chee is giving Waya an inhibited muzzle bite as a greeting.  Chito is raising her head to nose nudge Waya, a higher ranking Wolf than she is within the pack.
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Rubbing - Waya is pressing his muzzle against Wa-ta-chee's in a submissive greeting.  He almost looks like he is smiling.  Rub ons - a submissive pack greeting.  Notice the ear positions.  They are all pointed downward and pressed flat against their heads. 
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Scent Rub - Nita is rubbing her scent on Waya.  Wolves will often scent rub on objects like trees, fences and people too. This is their way of telling a story of where they have been and who they have met on their way.  Riding Up - A wolf resting their forelegs or paws on or across the back of another Wolf from the side.  This is usually a dominance display but has also been used in non-aggressive situations as play.  The aggressive level is determined by other displayed behaviors as in raised hackles.
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Pin - Chito is holding the Omega, Nita down in a display of dominance over her.  Chito is lower ranking pack member and Nita is the only one she can dominate for the time being. The Approcach - Woha is approaching.  She is not happy that Chito is showing dominance over Nita.  Notice Woha's high tail position which in this case signals self-assertiveness. 
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Flight - Chito the wolf displayed with the red "x" realizes that Woha is approaching quickly.  She is trying to flee to avoid the conflict with the more dominant wolf. The mount - Woha allows Nita to get up before she takes Chito down.  Notice Chito's ears, they are called "airplane ears".  They show her reluctance to submit to Woha.  Wolves usually want to better their positions in the pack.
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Hard Muzzle bites - Woha is showing dominance over Chito by giving her a hard muzzle bite which caused her to whimper.  Flickering - Nita is nervous and flicking her tongue.  The Omega often feels responsible for fights among fellow packmates. Submissive approach - typical approach by a low ranking pack member.  Head is down, body low to the ground, tail tucked in and often urinating as they walk.
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Greeting - licking at the mouth with ears placed against the head is a friendly greeting displayed by Wolves Yawn - A wide open yawn with deep inhalation usually signals a tired Wolf.  Other signs are the curled tongue with eyes either tiny slits or closed.  Sometimes less of a yawn can indicate nervousness about a situation.
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Scent roll - the detection of a strong odor such as old meat, new treats or foods, perfume, urine may cause a Wolf to bend its forelegs at the knee while turning it's shoulder and lowering it's front legs to the ground.  At first it starts out with the Wolf just rubbing it's cheek on the source of the odor and usually escalates to repeating this action several times with each cheek before rubbing their backs on it.  They stand up each time before repeating the entire process. Nose nudge - a gentle upward push of the nose against another Wolf's nose.  This is used as a greeting.
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Play - Wolves will often appear to play with inanimate objects such as this plush bunny. Toss - Niko is playing with Chito's bunny and in this picture is getting ready to toss it into the air.  Wolves will fling objects from their mouths using a very sharp upward motion of their heads. 
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toss - the red "x" is showing the bunny in the air.  Niko Akni will run to catch it.  Wolves often do this repeatedly. Solicit Play - Niko Akni is now parading Chito's bunny in front of her and the rest of the pack to solicit play.
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Guarding - Chito manages to get her bunny on one of Niko Akni's tosses.  She is now guarding it from the rest of the Wolves.  She's not playing around, look at her ears and raised hackles.  The Threat - Chito goes into the crate and lays down on her bunny.  Her wrinkled muzzle is giving Niko Akni a warning to leave her alone.  Notice her paw spread open on the far end of the crate bars.  She is putting up a barrier so he won't come in and steal her bunny.
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The ugly face - this is a serious threat.  Chito is snarling at Niko who is trying to intimidate her with a growl.  Her hackles are raised and she is ready to strike.  He ignores her warning because of his desire for the bunny.  She's not playing. The Hard Muzzle Bite - Chito inflicts a bite hard enough to make Niko back off.
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The Howl - A howl is a long drawn out tonal vocalization.  Each Wolf has a unique voice within the pack.  Chorus howls will often give the impression of a larger pack size.  Some howls are very melodic while others can be hoarse or whinny.  Wolves normally put everything into a howl which can be noted by their stance, head, ears and muzzle positions.  Their eyes are often tiny slits or closed.  The Wolves in this howl photo are Chito in front and Niko Akni in the back.

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