As a result of studying this chapter, the student must:


• forms of defensive reactions;

• factors that affect the manifestation of a defensive reaction;

• types of aggression;

• the main works devoted to the study of defensive reactions in animals;

be able to

• determine what type of defensive reaction and to what extent the animal manifests in a particular situation;

• Understand which type of aggression is relevant;

• compare the manifestation of aggression in animals with the manifestation of aggression in humans;


• the main methods of controlling the defensive reactions of animals.

From the point of view of the physiology of GNI, animals have two main forms of defensive reactions: active defensive and passive defensive. Their presence and degree of manifestation in animals depend both on genotypic factors and on environmental conditions.

The passive-defensive reaction manifests itself in the form of caution with respect to new irritants and avoidance of them. It is characteristic of all animals and humans and is an important component of behavior.

An active defensive reaction is expressed in the form of aggression directed at members of one's or another kind, on a person or on other stimuli. It consists in demonstrating threats or direct attack. The degrees of manifestation of an actively defensive reaction can also be quite a lot.

Defensive reactions are of tremendous importance in the life of an animal. The timely display of caution or fear of danger contributes to the conservation of animal life. Knowledge of the patterns of the formation of defensive reactions is very important for a correct understanding of animal behavior.

Formation of defensive behavior

Passive-defensive reaction

Since the principles of the formation of defensive behavior in all vertebrates are practically the same, we will consider it in the case of dogs. Defensive reactions of dogs are studied in sufficient detail both from the point of view of physiology and genetics, and from the standpoint of ethology and zoopsychology. Here we again turn to the classic, which became the textbook, the work of the staff of the laboratory IP Pavlov.

The presence of a passive-defensive reaction is necessary and justified for all animals. Excessive courage can lead to injury, and even the death of the animal. A passive defensive reaction manifests itself in the fact that, when encountering a new object, the animal tries to hide, escape or hide. If this is not possible, then it can freeze in a fixed position, cuddle to the ground, sometimes with involuntary urination. The degrees of manifestation of the passive-defensive reaction can be different. This reaction is especially typical for young children, its peak occurs at the time when they begin to separate from the brood and move to an independent life. It is during this period that the young are confronted with a huge number of new objects for themselves and must form their attitude towards them.

One of the first works devoted to the study of the features of the formation of defensive reactions in ontogeny was the research undertaken by S. N. Vyrzhikovsky and F. P. Mayorov in 1933 in Koltushi. Two litter of outbred puppies were divided into two equal groups each and grown under different conditions. Puppies of the first group were brought up in complete isolation, the puppies of the other group were raised in complete freedom. As a result, the grown dogs of the first group had a pronounced passive-defensive reaction - cowardice, the dogs of the second group did not possess it. IP Pavlov gave this fact the following explanation: puppies have a natural caution with respect to all new stimuli; this reflex gradually slows down as we get to know all the diversity of the external world. If the puppy does not meet a sufficient number of all kinds of irritants, he remains a cowardly man for the rest of his life. Pavlov called this cowardice "an unextended reflex of natural caution."

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