Insights into Dog Domestication from Psychological Studies on Dog and Wolf Behavior

Author(s): Clive Wynne

Year: 2015


The nature of the cognitive similarities and differences between dogs and wolves is highly relevant to considerations of possible mechanisms for the origin of dogs. I shall present results which show that wolves possess the potential to match dogs’ levels of responding adaptively to human actions if the wolves have been carefully hand-reared by people skilled in raising wild animals. Hand-reared wolves match pet dogs’ ability to follow human points to a desired object and to interpret the implications of human gaze being occluded by objects. Thus it is unlikely that dogs’ ability to perform well on human-guided tasks is a newly evolved aspect of canine cognition. However, there are important behavioral differences between dogs and wolves which make it unlikely that wolves served humans in the roles typical of dogs – such as hunters’ assistants and peoples’ pets. These differences include wolves’ far more rapid behavioral development, making it very difficult for people to adopt wolf pups, and dogs’ reduced effectiveness as hunters, making them more motivated than wolves to accept human assistance in capturing prey. assistance in capturing prey.

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Cite this Record

Insights into Dog Domestication from Psychological Studies on Dog and Wolf Behavior. Clive Wynne. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395588)


Dog Psychology Wolf

Geographic Keywords
North America - Northeast

Spatial Coverage

min long: -80.815; min lat: 39.3 ; max long: -66.753; max lat: 47.398 ;