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Wolf Pack Mates Make Peace, Dogs Hold a Grudge

Wolves are highly social animals that live in structured family units called packs.

A pack is simply a family, with parents at the lead (sometimes referred to as the breeding pair or alpha pair) and offspring of varying ages. Sometimes unrelated wolves will join a family too.

Cooperative living gives wolf families a number of benefits. Teamwork facilitates successful hunting, pup rearing, territorial defense, and more.

Building a strong team requires wolves to pass down critical skills and knowledge from one generation to the next. Parents teach their young how to cooperate, recognize and respond to the behavior of pack mates, manage their own impulses, and reconcile after a conflict.

It should be no surprise that quick resolution to conflict is important for pack survival in wolves. Ultimately, cooperation is key. Moreover, ongoing interpack strife can result in devastating long-term effects on the wolf family, including loss of resources, territory, and the lives of pack mates. Open-ended discord may eventually lead to pack dissolution.

But what about the wolf’s closest cousin? Do dogs reconcile after violent conflicts?

Although dogs are also considered “pack animals”, a recent study reveals they have lost the ability to make up after fighting.

Researchers surmise that dogs have lost many of their pack survival skills over thousands of years of domestication. In their new role as man’s best friend, getting along in a human environment takes priority over depending on others of their kind.