“Dog puppies are 30 times more interested in unknown humans than young wolves, confirming an evolutionary hypothesis”, claims this linked article. All those centuries of domestication have done some rewiring of wild canine DNA. Dogs really have been programmed to be Man’s best friend. The “Domestication Hypothesis” goes back to the age-old question of Nature vs. Nurture. Is a dog’s ability to understand humans something it learns, or is it innate? Is it imprinted in the pooch’s genetics? Turns out that, yes, it is a case of the latter. It started out as the former, sure, but with the passage of generations became the latter. Dogs are just plain more attuned to human beings than their wild cousins-slash-ancestors.
From the article: “…while young wolves and dogs are both adorable and do a lot of the same things (tumble around with their littermates, chew on foreign objects, test out their barks), their responses to humans could not be more different. ‘The wolf puppies are so shy’ and can take hours to emerge and give a stranger a sniff…[whereas puppies] ‘want to climb all over you and lick your face.’”
Though it’s not a part of the study, I’d like to see some compare and contrast of domesticated wolves, which became dogs, gaining this socialization with humans and the inherent fear that wild wolves have developed towards humans. Is this fear a learned response, or has it too become something innate, something present on the genetic level?