Dogs cooperate well with humans because of their inner wolf, study reveals


The beast within ‘man’s best friend’: Dogs cooperate well with humans because of their inner wolf, study of cubs raised alongside people reveals

The theory that dogs get on better with humans than wolves because of domestication and selective breeding strategies may be a myth.   

Scientists testing out the common belief have however found that the part of the dog which makes them more cooperative actually existed long before they were domesticated. 

The trait was equally observed in wolves, who were found to be better at ‘initiating’ cooperative than dogs.  

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Wolves are dogs' closest undomesticated relative but have a more aggressive image due to their 'wild' nature. But scientists have shown that the theory dogs cooperate better with humans than wolves because of domestication may be nothing but a myth

Wolves are dogs’ closest undomesticated relative but have a more aggressive image due to their ‘wild’ nature. But scientists have shown that the theory dogs cooperate better with humans than wolves because of domestication may be nothing but a myth

But scientists are claiming that the behaviours that make a dog ‘a man’s best friend’ – including cooperation – is down to their wolf-like nature rather social breeding.

Wolves are dogs’ closest undomesticated relative but are generally perceived to be more violent and aggressive due to being wild. 

The experiment, from the Konrad Lorenz Institute at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, looked at how wolves and dogs cooperated with humans to solve specific tests. 

The study tested 15 young grey wolves, from 2 to 8 years old and 12 mixed-breed dogs, from 2 to 7 years old, at the Wolf Science Center in Austria. 

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To keep the test fair, all the animals in the study had been brought up under similar conditions and had early exposure to humans.  

Dr Friederike Range, who led the study, said: ‘The detailed analysis of the cooperative interactions revealed interesting differences between wolves and dogs.

It shows that, while wolves tend to initiate behaviour and take the lead, dogs are more likely to wait and see what the human partner does and follow that behaviour’. 

The experiment, from the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, looked at how wolves and dogs cooperated with humans in solving specific tests. The results showed that while both species cooperated with humans, wolves were more 'proactive' at initiating cooperative

The experiment, from the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, looked at how wolves and dogs cooperated with humans in solving specific tests. The results showed that while both species cooperated with humans, wolves were more ‘proactive’ at initiating cooperative

The results showed that while both dogs and wolves cooperate with humans, wolves were more ‘proactive’ at initiating cooperative than dogs. 

The wolves were more likely to initiate movement with humans and thus ‘lead’ the cooperation while dogs would wait for humans to initiate and follow with movements as a result.   

The researchers suggest that the ‘timidness’ they observed in dogs may have been due to the more submissive personalities being bred, but does not mean domesticated canine are anymore cooperative than their relatives.   

Dogs and wolves diverged between 20,000 and 40,000 years ago years ago, when canines were first thought to have been domesticated. 

HOW DID DOGS BECOME DOMESTICATED?

A genetic analysis of the world’s oldest known dog remains revealed that dogs were domesticated in a single event by humans living in Eurasia, around 20,000 to 40,000 years ago.

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Dr Krishna Veeramah, an assistant professor in evolution at Stony Brook University, told MailOnline: ‘The process of dog domestication would have been a very complex process, involving a number of generations where signature dog traits evolved gradually.

‘The current hypothesis is that the domestication of dogs likely arose passively, with a population of wolves somewhere in the world living on the outskirts of hunter-gatherer camps feeding off refuse created by the humans.

‘Those wolves that were tamer and less aggressive would have been more successful at this, and while the humans did not initially gain any kind of benefit from this process, over time they would have developed some kind of symbiotic [mutually beneficial] relationship with these animals, eventually evolving into the dogs we see today.’

 



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