Dogs Play Dumb for Our Sake

DogsOur domestication of wolves, and our own dominant nature, has resulted in dogs that are so submissive that they suppress their independence and intellect, new research finds.

Dogs wait for orders, while wolves cooperate with each other to solve problems, according to the study, which was recently presented at the Animal Behavior Society’s meeting at Princeton University. In a sense, we’ve created submissive mini-me’s that mirror our own difficulties in creating egalitarian societies.

As a result, the researchers advise that we reconsider the notion of “dog-human cooperation.”

Co-author Friederike Range explained to Virginia Morell of the journal Science that our ancestors bred dogs for obedience and dependency.

“It’s not about having a common goal,” Range said. “It’s about being with us, but without conflict. We tell them something, and they obey.”

Range and colleague Zsófia Virányi, who are both scientists at the Messerli Research Institute at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, tested both dogs and wolves to determine the animals’ tolerance of their fellow pack members during a mealtime challenge.

All of the animals, including the wolves, had been raised at the Wolf Science Center in Game Park Ernstbrunn, Austria. The wolves were therefore somewhat accustomed to being around humans.

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