So how exactly did we get dogs? How did wolves become domesticated? Ancient wolves sure wouldn’t have looked any more cute and cuddly than any of the other predators that hunted and preyed upon ancient human beings. (Maybe as puppies.) So how did it occur to our primitive forebears that making friends with the wolf might be a good idea, or an even possible idea? It may have started when those early humans threw some scraps of meat to the wolves. For real.
According to this article from Smithsonian Magazine, it might have benefitted both species to share their kills, in that it reduced competition for food. (But even this theory states that the wolves to which our ancestors were tossing choice cuts were pups being raised as pets—which would imply that they’d been domesticated already, wouldn’t it?) In the winter, lean meat was less nourishing to humans than the fatty parts of animals, thus the hunter-gatherers had a surplus. Either they discarded it and it attracted wolves by accident—something that wouldn’t have been seen as a positive—or they deliberately fed the wolves.
Says archaeologist James Cole: “…early domesticated wolves could have survived living alongside human populations by consuming the excess protein from hunting that humans could not…having enough food for both populations, the competitive niche between the species is eliminated.” Still, this suggests that the humans were feeding wolves they’d already domesticated. I would think a more likely scenario would involve humans throwing excess meat to the wolves that were always following them around anyway, figuring if they filled the wolves up, the wolves wouldn’t have any reason to try to eat *them*.