Training Reduces Stress in Human-Socialised Wolves to the Same Degree as in Dogs

Vasconcellos AdS, Virányi Z, Range F, Ades C, Scheidegger JK, Möstl E, et al. (2016) Training Reduces Stress in Human-Socialised Wolves to the Same Degree as in Dogs. PLoS ONE 11(9): e0162389. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0162389

Training Reduces Stress in Human-Socialised Wolves to the Same Degree as in Dogs (PDF 551.2 KB)

The welfare of animals in captivity is of considerable societal concern. A major source of stress, especially for wild animals, is the lack of control over their environment. Here, we investigated the behavioural and physiological effects of the increasingly used practice of training wild animals as a way to facilitate handling and/or as behavioural enrichment.

We evaluated the effects of indoor training sessions with familiar caretakers on nine human-socialised individuals of a wild species, the wolf (Canis lupus), in comparison to nine individuals of its domesticated form, the dog (Canis lupus familiaris). We also collected saliva samples of trainers to measure GC and testosterone concentrations, to control for the effects of trainers’ stress levels on the responses of the animals.

Our results support previous findings suggesting that training is a potentially powerful tool for improving welfare in some wild social canids by creating structured and positive interactions between these animals and their human caretakers.