What are some wolves like dogs

Wolf encounters in the cultural landscape

Wolves are naturally cautious towards humans and avoid direct encounters. Most of the time, wolves evade humans before they even notice them. A direct encounter between wolf and human is rare even in areas populated by wolves. A chance observation from a car, for example, when a wolf is crossing a street is much more likely.

Like all wild animals that live in cultivated landscapes, wolves have to deal with the fact that there are human settlements everywhere in their habitat. It is therefore inevitable that they will walk past them or - in the case of scattered settlements - occasionally through them. Due to the predominant night and twilight activity of the wolves, this occurs especially in the cover of darkness. Keeping sheep and goats in settlements and on farmsteads without suitable fencing therefore does not offer safe protection, especially overnight. Occasionally, however, wolves can also be seen in the light in the settlement area, similar to what is known from foxes, deer or wild boars.

Is there a danger to humans?

Wolves in the cultivated landscape are no more dangerous than their conspecifics who live in deserted areas or who are hunted. There are wolf areas that are similarly densely populated with people to the wolf areas in Germany, and in which there is also no (legal) hunt for wolves, for example in Italy and Poland. In these areas, too, there is no evidence that wolves lose their caution towards humans. The same applies to wolves who grow up in national parks with a high number of visitors and who have no negative experience with humans.

The study "The fear of wolves: A review of wolf attacks on humans" published in 2002 by the Norwegian Institute for Natural Research (NINA) provides comprehensive information on the potential dangers posed by wolves. Reports on wolf attacks on people and their causes in Scandinavia, Central Europe, Asia and North America were compiled and evaluated. Accordingly, attacks by wolves on humans are very rare. In the past there have been only a few cases in which healthy wolves attacked or even killed a person. Wolf attacks on humans can mainly be traced back to three causes: rabies, provocation and food conditioning.

Rabies, a fatal viral disease that was considered the main cause of wolf attacks in earlier times, has been eradicated in Germany since 2008 and is also considered to be largely fought in neighboring countries by immunizing the fox. The provocation of a wolf is also a rather unlikely cause of danger under today's circumstances, since, according to the study, it mainly affected animal owners who - while trying to protect their livestock from attack - cornered wolves with clubs or pitchforks or hunters who Took puppies out of the den.

The most likely cause of dangerous behavior by wolves towards humans in our present cultural landscape is a strong habituation to human beings combined with positive stimuli such as B. Feeding (feed conditioning). Food conditioned wolves differ from other wolves in that they are interested in people because of positive stimuli and actively seek their proximity. If the expected positive stimuli (e.g. food) fail to appear, this can lead to the affected wolves developing intrusive, brazen and, in the worst case, aggressive behavior.

To avoid misunderstandings: All wild animals, including wolves, that live in cultivated landscapes have to get used to human presence to a certain extent (habituation). You learn to tolerate people and human activities to a certain extent. Such habituation does not in itself lead to problematic behavior. If wolves have made the experience that the perception of human presence proceeds without negative consequences, they usually react cautiously, but not extremely shyly, when encountering people and vehicles and usually trot away without excessive haste. Wolves who have neither positive nor negative experiences with humans remain suspicious of them and do not actively approach each other. Due to their curiosity and naivety, young wolves can sometimes have a shorter flight distance from humans than adult wolves.


Wolf encounter - how do I behave?

If you are out on foot or by bike in the wolf area, an encounter with wolves is rare, but cannot be ruled out. Encounters at less than 100 m usually take place when the wolves give people z. B. have not yet noticed because of the corresponding wind conditions. When they perceive humans, the wolves usually do not flee in panic, but first orientate themselves for a moment and then withdraw. Of all the documented wolf sightings in Lusatia, only a few were in which wolves approached people even though they had already noticed their presence. Most of these cases were inexperienced, curious young wolves, or the wolves' interest in dogs or sheep in the vicinity of the person prevailed before the impulse to flee from humans.

Basically, you should keep your distance and keep your distance when you meet. If the wolf does not withdraw and you are uncomfortable with the situation, speak loudly or clap your hands to make yourself heard. Do not run away, this could trigger chasing behavior from the animal. If the wolf approaches you contrary to expectations, stop and make yourself big, try to intimidate him. In such a case, take a step towards the animal rather than back away.

Wolves, like wild boars, are large, defensive wild animals. Treat them with respect. Do not try to get close to a wolf, let alone try to attract it. Give him space to retreat. Under no circumstances should you feed wolves or leave any scraps of food lying around. The instinctive caution that wolves show towards humans can be lost when the animals experience positive stimuli from humans. This can lead to problematic or even aggressive behavior on the part of the wolf.

For this reason, it is important to report encounters with wolves to the wolf management of the respective federal state. A list of the responsible bodies can be found in the right column. Conspicuous behavior can thus be recognized at an early stage and, if necessary, counteracted accordingly.


When wolf and dog meet

Wolves are the ancestors of our dogs and can still communicate with them. However, the fact that wolves may view dogs as conspecifics can be problematic. Dogs generally do not behave like wolves, which can lead to "misunderstandings". In general, dogs should be kept on a leash in wolf areas or be kept close to their owner. It may well happen that wolves are interested in these conspecifics who, from the wolf's point of view, mark their territory "boldly". The proximity of its owner is the best protection for the dog. Even in these situations there is no danger for the dog handler. Wolves care about their domesticated relatives, not humans. If the wolf and dog meet, you should call your dog to you, put it on a leash and quietly withdraw. If the wolf continues to show interest in the dog, you should make yourself clearly noticeable by shouting and, if necessary, drive the wolf away by throwing objects.


Use of hunting dogs in wolf areas

In the hunting press there is repeated reference to the danger for hunting dogs in wolf areas. This is justified with examples from Sweden, where every year between 20 and 40 hunting dogs are killed by wolves while hunting. There has not been a comparable case in Germany in the last 15 years.

The use of hunting dogs in the Swedish wolf area is not comparable to hunting as it takes place in Germany. There hare hare and elk dogs hunt widely and often far away from the hunter. In Germany, rifle dogs are mainly used for driven hunts. They are supposed to drive the game away from the hunters within a limited area.

In Lusatia, dogs have been hunted in wolf areas for more than 15 years. Experience shows that the risk to hunting dogs is no higher here than anywhere else. The risk of getting injured while hunting is not small for hunting dogs. Every year, dogs are killed by wild boars, accidentally shot or run over in traffic. With regard to the wolf, the Lausitz Federal Forestry Agency has been taking certain precautionary measures during driven hunts in the wolf area in Lausitz for years:

  • Dog handlers are informed in advance about the presence of wolves.
  • It is requested that dogs that have already been used abroad for large predatory game (hunting for large predators) are not used in the wolf area.
  • The dogs are only strapped (released from the leash) approx. 20 minutes after the start of driving. This should give the wolves the opportunity to adjust to what is happening and avoid unexpected encounters between wolf and dog.
  • When searching for injured game, the bloodhound is only strapped when the handler has the injured animal in front of him and can rule out that wolves have already taken possession of it.

In addition, it is advisable to hang bells or bells around the dogs so that wolves can hear them from afar.

One precaution should be taken into account when training hunting dogs. When training and handling a hunting dog, the dog should not be rewarded for displaying wolf signs. There is a risk that a hunted dog will misinterpret this and, on another occasion, pursue a wolf trail, as it would with a deer or wild boar trail. However, a dog that pursues and poses a wolf actually risks being attacked by it.

Such an incident occurred in Lusatia as early as 2005, when a terrier bitch left her owner unnoticed outside of the hunt, followed the trail of a she-wolf, followed it up and posed it. The bitch was bitten several times by the she-wolf. She came back to the owner, but died a little later of her injuries during veterinary treatment. There are definitely dog ​​handlers who no longer use their dog in the wolf area. In fact, it cannot be ruled out that dogs will also be attacked by wolves when hunting in Germany in the future. The greater danger for hunting dogs, however, also comes from road traffic and wild boars in the wolf area.