Wolves in The Long Dark have three basic ‘levels of interest’ in the player.
In roaming mode, wolves will wander around randomly within their territory. They have a chance of spawning inside this territory, and will not spawn outside of it. They will not leave their territory unless they detect a player. Many places will never spawn wolves. This means that a player can learn the likely usual locations of wolves through observation. During this phase, a wolf can be avoided or distracted.
When the wolf detects a player through direct line of sight, they usually move straight to stalking the player. However, if the detect the player through smell or noise, they may enter a searching phase. In this mode, the wolf does not see the player, but knows they are present, and will walk towards the location where it heard or smelt them last. The wolf will usually howl when it enters this phase. Once it sees the player it will enter stalking mode. During this phase, the wolf can be lost or distracted.
When a wolf sees a player, it will start to walk slowly towards the player. In this stalking mode, the wolf will follow the player for long distances, even outside of the wolf’s territory. The wolf will not attack the player if the player continues walking slowly away from the wolf, except in several extenuating circumstances. During this phase, a wolf can be scared off, lost, killed, ran from, or distracted.
When a wolf gets close enough to a player it will run towards the player and attack them. This will start a minigame in which the player must fight the wolf. The wolf will also move straight into attacking if it sees the player while it is eating an animal it has killed. This can happen from a reasonably large distance. Once a wolf has entered the attacking phase, it can not be scared, avoided, or lost. During this phase, a wolf can be killed, or ran from.