Winter heart

Martina Codemo (Intern)




Without their family, the pack, wolves would not be able to forage properly, could not get a chance to reproduce and to grow their offspring and they would not have the possibilities to protect a territory alone.

On the other hand, dogs do not develop such an organized structure. In fact, pet dogs have no need to create such a complex system, simply because they are taken care for by us, humans. Even free-ranging dogs do not form packs: for the most part, they are solitary, but they can occasionally come together and form groups.

Like in any family, fights can happen frequently also in wolves’ packs. However, since the pack cohesiveness and cooperation are fundamental, the process of peace making is also important. In fact, it has been proven that also in the captive wolves of the WSC after a fight there is a reconciliation period between the involved wolves. They deeply care about each other and they just want to make up for the bad things they “said to each other”.

Even, the WSC dogs can fight from time to time. Yet they do really have a winter-cold heart. This is because after they do not really show signs reconciliation. They do not make peace, they just simply avoid to interact with each other. 

These differences can be explained by their different social organization in the wild: the stable pack vs. a more individualistic approach. What is truly amazing is that these differences were still clear even when these animal are kept in captivity, but raised under the same conditions like the wolves and dogs at the WSC.

We could say that wolves have a more mature way of handling that “after the fight period”, but I am sure that most of us have showed to have a dog winter heart from time to time.

This is just another proof that animals can have traits of their personality and their behaviours that are just like ours: we all have something in common!


Source: “The effect of domestication on post-conflict management: wolves reconcile while dogs avoid each other” Simona Cafazzo, Sarah Marshall-Pescini, Martina Lazzaroni, Zsófia Virányi and Friederike Range