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Ethology - Posturing

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1 Ethology - Posturing on Mon Aug 15, 2011 2:19 pm

Luna


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Like body language, postering is also an important part of pack communication. Postering is more of the actions, unlike body language which is used more to express emotions. It would be good to study these if you do not know them already.
If you have any other ideas to put on here, feel free to post them on this topic. ^^

Ambivalence Display
An ambivalence display may be enacted when the Wolf is confused, afraid, or trying to warn off an intruder or submissive. The Wolf will bristles his or her pelt (raise hackles) in order to appear larger and more threatening, at the same time the eyes will take on an angry wild expression and the lips will curl back to expose the fangs and gums. It is felt that red is a threatening color in nature, thus baring the gums and tongue, which is pressed forward between the incisors during the display, makes for an especially effective threatening appearance. The purpose of this display is to look dangerous... it is a warning meant to avoid violence, not to incite it... and is not used during hunting or stalking, as prey animals are never warned, just attacked, killed, and eaten. Ambivalence display is often implemented during the defensive threat posture and during a dominance display in order to demand the respect of submissive Wolves.

Defensive Threat
This is a bodily posture where the Wolf crouches and prepares for possible attack of an intruder or rival. It is a condition of readiness, more or less devised to warn off or threaten a possible combatant. The Wolf assumes an ambivalent facial expression while attempting to stare down an opponent. If pressed during this posture, wolves will generally resort to violence in order to defend themselves or take corrective action against subordinate pack members.

Dominate Parade
This is posture is generally implemented by a Dominate male to show off his rank to subordinates. The Wolf parades around in proud fashion with head up high, ears forward, eyes secure and direct, and tail raised or level with the spine. An alpha Wolf who approaches a subordinate in this way expects respect and is often rewarded by an act of active submission to prove one's devotion.

Fighting - Pinning
Wolves often spar, especially while they are pups and yearlings to establish place in the pack hierarchy. One of the most detrimental occurrences for a Wolf during a fight is to get brought down and pinned. During ritualistic combat this usually loses the match and proves the standing Wolf as dominant, but in deadly combat it can expose vital areas of the body, like the throat, leaving it prone to a killing bite.

Fighting - Snapping
Snapping is an aggressive forward rush, where the Wolf is crouched with tail cocked, lips pulled back, fangs bared, ears forward, and eyes wild and threatening. It rarely makes contact, however, and usually comes up short so that the teeth merely snap together with a loud clap. This posturing is more threat display/warning than actual attack, thus it is often referred to simply as "snapping" or "snap" behavior. This posture is often used during "dominance" where a Dominate is attempting to regain control of subordinate Wolves.

Play Bow
Wolves love to play; it's one of their favorite group activities, right up there with hunting as a group. The play bow is an invitation to other Wolves to romp and play. The play bow is a deep forward bow, kind of like stretching, but there is no yawn, just an occasional woof-like vocalization with paws stretched forward, rump raised high, and tail straight out or wagging.

Running - Fear
When a Wolf is afraid and runs to escape danger, the head is lowered, the tail is tucked, and the ears are laid back.

Running - Play/Hunting
When Wolves run while playing or chasing pray they tend to be relaxed and cheerful, with head raised, ears in a somewhat neutral posture, and tail out straight or free hanging. Wolves love games of chase where they race each other. The lead Wolf in such games often finds his or her tail grabbed by the "tailing" Wolf.

Scent Rolling
Scent rolling is likely the way Wolves tell each other where they've been and what interesting smells they've discovered. Wolves often find things with unusual odors, and upon deciding something is pretty neat, will flop down and roll their whithers against the whatever-it-is to collect a sniff sample. Wolves not only collect carrion odors but also the scent of dung, flowers... almost anything the smell of might impress family and friends. It may be as simple as this: lupines enjoy wearing their style of perfume just as some humans do.

Stretching & Yawning
Stretching is initiated by a low forward bow with paws straight ahead, toes spread, rump raised high, and tail raised or back straight. Then the position is reversed so that the fore legs and head are raised, hind paws are pushed back, paws are curled under, pads sometimes skyward, and the tail lowered or pressed to one side. The stretch is usually accompanied by a yawn.

Submission - Active
Active submission often looks like a subordinate Wolf begging the dominant for forgiveness. The submissive assumes a crouching posture with curled down rump and tail tucked and/or wagging. Then the submissive nuzzles and licks at the dominant's chin, lips, nose, and muzzle as is often seen in ritual greeting. The dominant will usually gaze ahead, raising the muzzle while accepting this display of respect and/or affection, with a bristled, but cool, appearance. This posture likely represents bowing and flattering the king in order to stave off possible disfavor.

Submission - Passive
Passive submission takes two modes, rolling over and standing. The most common passive submissive posture is indicated by the subordinate Wolf rolling over onto the back and presenting the belly to the dominant Wolf. The submissive usually folds the paws across the chest and lifts the hind quarters. The submissive Wolf's tail may or may not be tucked. A less common mode of passive submission is very much like active submission, minus the nuzzling and licking activity. The subordinate Wolf tucks rear and tail and crouches down with ears and muzzle lowered.

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