A few weeks ago I posted a bit lifted from Dr. Mark Johnson's excellent Feral Dog blog about dominance in wolves. It turns out there is some!
In fact Mark is smart enough to understand exactly what Marian and Keller Breland were talking about when they said:
"[T]he behavior of any species cannot be adequately understood, predicted, or controlled without knowledge of its instinctive patterns, evolutionary history, and ecological niche."
So how do you control a wolf if you have to routinely handle them for vaccines and captive breeding programs?
Well, as I have noted in the past, if the animal is a wild wolf that you have to trap for the occasional distemper or rabies vaccine (yes, many of our wild wolves are vaccinated), you might have to employ an offset leghold trap or snare.
With captive wolves, however, Mark has discovered that you can use the natural dominance-and-submission behaviors of the wolf to some advantage, as the video clip, above, suggests.
There are some nice lines in here.
"Feel how tense you are. If you're tense, the animal can feel how tense you are. So calm yourself down, breathe well, bring your energy down to your belly. That will calm the wolf..."
"The focus is to greet the animal, and my energy should be a combination of dominance and compassion."
One of the things that is going on here, of course, is extinguishing behavior -- the pole works best when biting the pole produces no draw back from the pole holder. Or, as Mark puts it, biting the pole produces no affirmation.
Extra points here for taking the rectal temperature and doing the microchipping. It appears that with a Y pole on a wolf, this can be done as easily as with a dog. Amazing.
Mark says this video will become part of a longer Y pole training video currently being produced by Global Wildlife Resources, Inc.