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The Affect That Wolf Ancestors Have on Today's Dogs

Aug 29, 2008
The dog is a domesticated wolf subspecies and one of the top companion and working animals in human history. There are hundreds of varying breeds and approximately four hundred million dogs estimated in the world. Based on DNA and scientific evidence, people tamed or domesticated dogs approximately fifteen thousand years ago. Just like their wolf ancestors, domestic dogs do many of the same things wolves do such as, if a dog is getting ready to attack or bite, the dog will stare at its target along with baring its teeth. A dog will turn to the side, put its tail down and flatten its ears back if he needs to protect himself against an attack. Going back in history, wolves that noticed things, unlike their obtuse pack mates, had an edge over them. Watching out for the intent stare or fangs of a pack member that was more powerful helped a wolf avert a fight and physical injury. A wolf watching for a cringing pack member or a weaker member that averted its gaze could avoid the risk and difficulty of fighting a stronger member and choose the weaker wolf that would give up without fighting.

Once wolves were looking for accidentally dropped behavioral hints, they became able to start dropping them on purpose. Wolves that understand a stare or read a fang are able to avert fights while wolves that fix a stare or show their fangs can show a warning without fighting. This evolutionary process between wolves that were senders and those that were receivers is what is behind the visual rituals and development of wolves and now, dogs.

Most signals within a wolf pack are directly associated with submission and dominance. Non-threatening signals and submissive behaviors include:

* Rolling on its back and lying down, belly up, which means surrendering passively against a superior wolf.

* Tightly tucking the tail under the stomach

* Approaching sideways instead of head on

* Turning its gaze away

* The wolf lays its ears back

Threatening and dominant behavior includes:

* Staring

* Pricking the ears

* Baring its teeth

According to archaeological records, the first animal every domesticated by man was the dog, from wolves. Wolves and dogs do share barks indicating intruders or to set an alarm. Over a long period, wolves showed different gestures such as baring their fangs, which other wolves understood was a threat or warning.

Long ago, most vertebrate developed an innate understanding often used in visual communication, which was small things seem less dangerous than large ones. Thus, assertive, dominant, threatening wolves stand erect trying to look as big as possible. They will also raise their tails, put one leg on each side of the wolf they want to impress or stiffen their hackles. On the other side, fearful, submissive dogs try to look as tiny as possible by dragging or crouching low. Wolves are not conscious of how small or large they look or make themselves look but instead are rituals that date back to their ancestors.
About the Author
For more information recommended by Kelly Marshall, see these recent articles Mites and Demodectic Mange and New Ideas For Exercising With Your Dog.
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