Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Catching a Mexican Wolf With a Y Pole


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.


Bartimaeus said...

That video was very interesting. It reminded me of a client I had at one time that owned a wolf hybrid that really wanted to avoid being handled, but would submit when he was finally cornered. (I did not know about Y poles at the time, and the owner was worse than useless in handling or training the animal) He used to hide under a vehicle but he would always let me crawl under there and give him a Rabies booster when he needed it. I had known that particular animal since he was a pup, and he never growled, snarled or tried to bite, but he was very shy. Once he decided he could not get away, he would let you do nearly anything, but something like a Y pole would have been nice for a little extra safety.
That animal eventually escaped and disappeared into the forest. I always wonder what happened to him there.

Viatecio said...

I wonder how long it'll take for someone to loudly compare this to training, because "modern" training needs to take that much longer because it's more "dog-friendly" and causes less stress than "the old way."

OOPS, sorry...

With that said, this is an excellent video. It's definitely not the type of restraining we're taught in school for vet work, but these aren't the average patients either (not to mention that the average vet doesn't have the TIME to go through all this...gotta make more money with those yearly jabs awaiting in the lobby)! Funny how that "calm-assertive" energy really comes in handy, even if that's not the exact phrasing used. What a lucky pup to have these people caring for it.