Wolves are not ‘lone’: Dog-human cooperation based on social skills of wolves

Commonly accepted domestication hypotheses suggest: “Dogs have become tolerant and attentive as a result of humans actively selecting for these skills during the domestication process in order to make dogs cooperative partners.”

Friederike Range and Zsófia Virányi from the Unit of Comparative Cognition at the Messerli Research Institute question the validity of this view and have developed the “Canine Cooperation Hypothesis”. Their hypothesis states that since wolves already are tolerant, attentive and cooperative, the relationship of wolves to their pack mates could have provided the basis for today’s human-dog relationship. An additional selection, at least for social attentiveness and tolerance, was not necessary during canine domestication.

The researchers believe that wolves are not less socially attentive than dogs. Dogs however cooperate more easily with humans because they more readily accept people as social partners and more easily lose their fear of humans. To test their hypothesis, Range and Virányi examined the social attentiveness and tolerance of wolves and dogs within their packs and toward humans.

Various behavioural tests showed that wolves and dogs have quite similar social skills. Among other things, the researchers tested how well wolves and dogs can find food that has been hidden by a conspecific or by a human. Both wolves and dogs used information provided by a human to find the hidden food…

  • bob e

    love wolves .. love dogs too

  • WalterBannon

    Wolves, feral dogs, same thing basically…

  • Frances

    I’ve thought for some time that, somewhere out there, very large packs of ‘lone wolves’ exist. Usually to be found praying five times daily and intoning “allahu akbar” as they attack innocents.

  • It has taken millions of years for dogs to include humans as a part of their pack. I was watching a documentary where dogs and wolves were subjected to experiments that involved their problems solving skills. Dogs turned to humans when something was insurmountable for them but wolves did not.

    Wolves are also more family-oriented with pairs mating for life, live in a more merit-based society with the alphas killing the game and therefore taking larger portions of it and apparently like watermelon.

    • Minicapt

      I like fried chicken, … and steak tartar, as well.


  • disqus_PwGxBXHn8l

    A dogsled operator once told me that he did not use wolves because they were too aggressive. He meant, I gather, that they might not know that they should never under any circumstances attack a human (which could end his business rather abruptly). Apart from that, there isn’t a whole lot of difference, apparently. Just different tendencies on a scale of canid behaviour.

    PS: THAT said, when I was strolling around among his staked-out dog packs, I noticed one animal that WAS clearly and obviously a wolf. For one thing, when the other animals barked up a storm, he howled instead. 😉 I never said anything. The animal was probably double dipping EI as well. – Denyse O’Leary, Ottawa

    • Frau Katze

      Yes, wolves are not particularly found of humans. I read that there semi-wild dogs roaming around Moscow. Halfway between a wolf and a dog. Sometimes they will attach to a person, other times not. I can’t remember where I read it now. Or where the dogs came from.

      • disqus_PwGxBXHn8l

        It is probably true, because dogs can go either way. When they are hand-reared as pups, they simply tend to accept the humans as their masters and look to them to tell them what to do, and above all, to feed them. But if their early experiences are more questionable, well, … Half-wild packs are especially dangerous because they are not fearful of humans, but show no special deference to them either. I think, subject to correction, that that is why the coyotes who penetrate Toronto are routinely euthanized.

        A dog would know enough not to grab the neighbour’s toddler and eat it. Wildlife control can’t say that for sure, re a coyote.

        Complicating the picture, of course, there are coywolves, coydogs, and wolfdogs, due to occasional interbreeding. I’d avoid the whole pack, given a chance.

        • My dog (God rest his furry soul) was part wolf.

          Lovable creature.

          • disqus_PwGxBXHn8l

            Yes indeed. Some are. There are some really interesting research papers on this subject. I suspect that much of the time, a lot depends on how much time the animal spends with humans before 30 days and the extent to which its dam regards humans as her own source of care. But wolves may happen to be more aggressive by nature, which could pose a problem under exceptional circumstances. Just a thought.

          • That’s right.

            It depends on when the animals is a pup or older when it comes in contact with humans and the percentage of dog/wolf in it.

  • DD_Austin

    Another educated genuis talking about what they know nothing about.

    Animals aren’t stupid robots like university idiots assume they are.
    Even city people could fiqure that out, if they took the time to watch a family of birds
    all animals have social skills, but after reading this, it is apparent while all animals
    have brains, only humans don’t use them