Paws on Pop: More Vying for Dad’s Affection, for Possessing Dad, or Just Family Closeness?

What I see going on here is continued vying for preferential affection and attention from Dad. And Dad sure seems to be indulging these youngsters. He’s letting them climb all over him. I’ve divided up the photos into four groups to make this posting as clear as possible.

This behavior follows directly after the behavior I posted on February 4th: Vying for Dad’s Affection. The female youngster here, above, seems to have become insistent in her possessiveness of Dad: she puts her “paws on pop”. It reminds me of “Hop on Pop”. Notice her affectionate pull on Dad’s ear in the 3rd slide above. Almost all instances of “paws on another coyote” that I have seen have been a demonstration of dominance by a parent or dominant mate, or by one sibling towards another. But here it’s a youngster with paws on a father! Dad is indulging her — it’s probably simply “play dominance”, if even that!

The female falls off of Dad for a moment, but then gets up there again, as the male sibling looks on with interest. The male sibling, off to the side, doesn’t look too comfortable about what’s going on, as indicated by the position of his ears which are low and airplaned out to the sides.

And the female youngster doesn’t just put her paws on Dad, she actually hangs in there for some time! After a few minutes, as seen in the last slide of the three slides above, Dad slithers away from under her. Maybe enough is enough?

Oh, but now it’s the male youngsters turn! He actually “mounts” Dad in the traditional sense: “Hey, I can do this, too, in my own way.” Is he doing this competitively with his sister? Note that Dad puts up with it. He seems totally unphased. After all, these are just kids and.

The female youngster persists, getting on Dad again and pushing off her sibling! Back and forth between the two youngsters. Are they vying for Dad’s attention and vying for “possessing” him, does dominance in any form play into this, or is this just simple family closeness?

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Charles Wood
    Feb 16, 2014 @ 10:00:01

    I recognize canine (loosely coyote, wolf, and dog) pretended mountings as one of the core behaviors comprising canine social life. I have unanswered questions about pretended mountings. Although coyotes and wolves only mate annually, pretended mounting occurs frequently. Since not a sexual behavior per se, we’ve come to explain pretended mounting as ritualized dominance. Although we often find pretended mountings to be contention between mounter and mountee, Janet’s group of three shows two siblings contesting over who gets to mount the dad.

    My view is that Janet’s post shows sibling rivalry, a view I base on the dad’s apparent attitude of un-involvement, indifference, and boredom. Upon being mounted, the dad’s failure to return aggression immediately and decisively is a sure sign the dad knows that his authority isn’t being challenged in any way, manner, or form by either of the mounters. Also absent from the dad’s responses is a showing of favoritism, the dad coyote allowing either of his children to mount him. It is as though the argument between his children doesn’t concern him, being their drama, not his. I then ask myself, what is the beef between the children?

    I think of coyote sibling drama over parental attention as something akin to a territorial dispute, a contention over the parent as ‘territory’. For a coyote adult, life is about territory/food, the possession of which allows the next generation of coyotes to emerge. For a child coyote, a parent is a food source as much as territory is a food source to an adult coyote. Much of childhood consists of acting out in small ways the fabric and textures of the coming larger drama that is adult life. The dad coyote’s indifference to his children’s drama seems wise, his lack of favoritism, seems wise since ultimately the dad coyote won’t be the once to decide, that decision instead is in the hands of life itself.


    • yipps
      Feb 16, 2014 @ 14:28:59

      Hi Charles —

      Yes, I agree that the vying for Dad is about sibling rivalry. Your idea about the parent being “territory” to be owned, I think is right on. I observed this exact same behavior in another family where the contention was over Mom. Again, as you state, Mom wasn’t really involved — she was just there. The rivalry was between two siblings.

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