Canine Essentials

Canines at ‘Souls have a strong basis on real life canines. The added human-level intelligence and ability to shift does shake things up a bit, but ‘Souls wolves are still wolves and many instinctual aspects will remain the same.

If you are new to roleplaying wolves, you will definitely want to familiarize yourself with the species. Wikipedia and WolfCountry.net both offer a good summary of wolf basics. Pay attention to pack dynamics, diet, dens, and puppies. Don’t forget, you can always watch wolf videos to get some visuals.

Dominant & Submissive Behavior

Canine Facial Expressions
Bottom to top: increasing fear (ears back); left to right: increasing aggression (snarl); top right: maximum of both.
  • Dominant wolves keep their heads and tails high and their ears erect. They will look directly at other wolves and can intimidate via eye contact.
  • Submissive wolves will hold themselves in pretty much the opposite way — they keep their heads and tails low and their ears pinned backwards. Eyes will usually be averted from the dominant wolf, often looking towards the ground instead.
  • Relaxed wolves will be somewhere in the middle, with head and tails at a casual, medium height, and ears pointed forward.

Wikipedia has a fairly comprehensive section on body language you should try to familiarize yourself with. The ‘Souls Wiki also provides a Member Guide for Wolf Behavior. Wolf videos are another good way to learn.

Dominant and submissive behavior is instinctive, but as more and more wolves at ‘Souls choose to adapt to a more human lifestyle, such formalities may be lessened. Leaders may not require that their subordinates act particularly submissive, preferring they all act like equals. Nevertheless, one should keep in mind that no matter how humanized a wolf becomes, he will still retain the instincts that have been present for thousands of years, and will react accordingly. A surprised and scared wolf will likely act submissive no matter how equal he acts in everyday life.

Dominant and Submissive Behavior
Dominant and submissive behavior in a trio of gray wolves. The raised head indicates dominance; the licking of the muzzle indicates subordination. Photo by Kamia_the_Wolf@Flickr

Behavior in Different Areas

Wolves on their pack territories act differently depending on their rank. An omega may be required to be submissive, and an alpha may always maintain an appearance of dominance. Canines should submit and show respect to anyone ranked above them. Most times, a lowering of the head and a less-than-free tail will suffice, but certain higher-ranked wolves may request more of your character. This will, of course, also vary by pack as well as individual — some packs require strict adherence to hierarchy-appropriate behavior.

Many humanized aspects of ‘Souls wolves affect dominance and submission; different characters will have different preferences. Still — if your character is meeting a higher ranked wolf for the first time though, it is safest to be over-submissive than under-submissive.

Joiners

Unranked wolves seeking to join a pack — or “joiners” — must be especially careful when attempting to join a pack. Politeness is key, and canines don’t adhere to the same rules of ettiquete as humans do. For more information, see the Joining page.

As a Visitor

Omega Wolf
Even as adolescents, wolves tend to establish hierarchies, practicing for roles they will later play in their adult lives. Photo by Kamia_the_Wolf@Flickr

When visiting on foreign lands as a ranked wolf of a different pack, respect is key. You may not be required to show the same amount of extreme submission as an unranked wolf, but regardless of your home rank, you are a guest on foreign soil. Trespassing is considered very rude regardless of whether your character is a joiner or a wolf from another pack and should generally be avoided. Specific rules regarding trespassing can be found in section 5 of our Procedures.

Neutral Territory

For unclaimed territories, basically anything goes — unless you encounter a wolf of the same pack, in which case, the same behavior used on the packlands applies.

Hunting

Alpha Eats First
Alpha wolves typically eat first after a hunt. Photo by Kamia_the_Wolf@Flickr

Naturally, wolves hunt to eat. Wolves will typically eat any kind of prey in the area, ranging from buffalo and caribou to rats and mice. Larger prey is generally only hunted in groups. Small prey can be taken down by an individual. Group hunts are a very special occasion for a wolf pack, usually called together by either one of the leader ranks or the pack’s designated hunter. Once the hunting party is gathered, they track animals and isolate a good candidate for hunting.

Once this candidate — usually sick, injured, very old, very young or otherwise vulnerable — is selected, the hunting party formulates a plan according to their position, the terrain, and the position of their prey. They then act on their plan, and once the animal is surrounded or cornered, take turns slashing and trying to find a good hold on the prey. Wolves’ jaws are capable of crushing necks, and throats are also a favorite place to hold. National Geographic has a clip about wolf hunting tactics and the ways they will take down prey.

Sounds

Though wolves are the dominant species at ‘Souls, coyotes, dogs, and hybrids are not uncommon. Other species may have variations of the above sounds or express themselves with sounds unique to them. For example, a coyote’s howl is generally higher-pitched and more “whiny” than a wolf’s, and the basenji — a breed of dog — has a trademark yodel. See the Species Guide for more information.

Last updated: February 9, 2014

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