Wolf Social Skills Led to Dog-Human Bond

Dog's social skills were already present in the wolf. (Photo: Wolf Science Center)

Dog’s social skills were already present in the wolf. (Photo: Wolf Science Center)

Animal behaviorists have theorized that dogs’ close attentiveness to humans developed during the domestication process, as humans selected for such characteristics as tolerance and cooperativeness when first breeding dogs for work or companionship. New research from the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna and the Wolf Science Center in Austria shows that wolves are as attentive to members of their own species and human beings as dogs are, suggesting that wolves already possess the qualities that humans value so much in dogs.

Researchers developed a “canine cooperation hypothesis” stating that the social behavior of wolves in their pack groups was already developed enough, so that further human selection for social attentiveness and tolerance in dogs wasn’t needed.

Tests conducted with wolves (who grew up around humans) and dogs show that both dogs and wolves are able to follow human cues to find hidden food, follow the gaze of humans, and also open boxes after observing others do it first. In fact, the wolves were actually more successful at opening boxes than the dogs.

The researchers note that it was not necessary to breed for such qualities as cooperation and attentiveness in the earliest dogs, because wolves already exhibited these qualities as they interacted with each other and, if they lost their fear of humans, with us as well.

For more on the study, click HERE.