wolves-in-the-wild-travel-in-a-pack

Has the domestication of dogs also changed their ability to learn from each other? A recent study performed by the Messerli Research Institute at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna, Austria, seems to indicate that this is the case.

The Experiment of Imitation

In a simple experiment, the researchers determined that wolves have the ability to learn by observing a dog carrying out an action, while most dogs in the study did not. In the set-up, both wolves and dogs observed a trained dog using a lever to open a box and receive a treat.

Throughout the trials, all of the wolves succeeded on their first try at copying the actions of the trained dog to open the box. Only four of the dogs were able to do so and, out of these, only two of the dogs succeeded multiple times. The wolves and dogs had all been raised together since they were pups, and had been given equal socialization among other wolves, dogs, and humans.

The initial studies took place when the wolves and dogs were six months old. However, to rule out the idea that the results were due to the wolves’ earlier cognitive development, the study was repeated nine months later, when all of the animals were adults, with the same results.

The Conclusion

The study concluded that wolves are capable of imitation, and so “are likely to pay closer attention to the actions of social partners and thus may have a higher tendency to socially learn from or even imitate each other’s actions.”

In the context of a wolf pack, this behavior makes sense. But domestic dogs are descended from wolves, so why the difference? Researchers still aren’t sure, but they propose that “dog-human cooperation has likely originated from wolf-wolf cooperation, potentially by (dogs) becoming able to easily accept humans as social partners and thus, extending their relevant social skills to interactions with them.”

Setting A Good Example

This is yet another reason that we need to remember to be the Pack Leader. Our dogs are watching us and looking for clues on how to behave. We have to make sure that we are sending them the right message.

Can your dog learn by imitating other dogs or people? Let us know in the comments!


More From Cesar's Way Videos

Recommended Videos


Related Posts

November 15, 2017

Thanksgiving With Dogs and Family

Dogs and Holiday Seasons There’s a tradition in the U.S. called Thanksgiving, which, since 1941,

June 9, 2020

Baby Bunnies Think This Golden Retriever Is Their Dad

When it comes to baby bunnies the cuteness factor is limitless. Baby bunnies are the

June 18, 2015

Challenges

Cesar and Kerry posing on her prayer car "Bessy." Spring began last Wednesday, and it

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Get Tips From Cesar & The Pack

Don’t get left out of the doghouse! Sign up now to make sure you’re up to date on the latest happenings!

Trending Today

Trending This Week