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How Is Dominance Displayed

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Dr. James C. Ha, Ph.D., CAAB is a professor of applied animal behavior at the University of WA and a certified applied animal behavior with over 30 years of experience in animal behavior teaching, research, consulting, and expert witness services.

How is dominance displayed?

Dominance is really a form of aggression, and so you have all the standard aggressive signals. Ears forward, stiff body, hackles up direct gaze, direct look in the eyes. It can result in growling; it can result in snapping and eventually if the other doesn’t back down, it can result in physical contact. So it simply a form of aggression and aggression is used to decide who the winner is, who the loser is and that decides for the rest, long time anyway, who gets access to the resources first.


What does dominant behavior look like in a wolf?

Dominant wolves assume the classic canid standing posture with tail up at least horizontally, and subordinate or submissive individuals lower themselves and “cringe”” (Darwin 1877).

There is currently no clear answer to why a wolf or dog stand over another dog.

In “standing over,” one wolf would stand over (Schenkel 1947) a lying wolf, positioning its groin above the nose of the lying wolf. Sometimes the lying wolf sniffed at the groin or genitals of the standing wolf. Schenkel (1947) saw “standing over” only during “peaceful” times and did not seem to consider it dominance-related.”

David Mech found that “Dominance displays are uncommon except during competition for food. Then they allow parents to monopolize food and allocate it to their youngest offspring.”