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article imageWolves have similar social skills to dogs

By Tim Sandle     Dec 7, 2013 in Environment
According to a new study, wolves can learn from humans and have some 'social skills' that are similar to dogs. This is despite wolves and dogs being separated b over 20,000 years.
Wolves and dogs are similar in someways and different in others. Some scientists think that the domestic dog separated from wolves around 20,000 years ago. A new study suggests that these wolves may have already had some social skills that helped the domesticated 'dog' to interact with humans.
For the study, International Business Times reports, wolves and dogs raised by humans at the Wolf Science Center near Vienna were examined. In one set of trials, each wolf or dog was shown a treat, which they watched as it was hidden by a familiar person or pet dog. In control trials, the subjects were shown the treat, but then watched it be pocketed by another person while a human or pet dog guide walked to a designated endpoint. Each animal also participated in a test where the treat was hidden before the trial began, so there were neither human nor dog cues to follow. The outcome was that both dogs and wolves were able to find the treat with a demonstration from a human or a dog than without a demonstration, suggesting that both species responded to visual cues.
The lead author behind the research, Friederike Range of the Messerli Research Institute at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna in Austria, told NBC News: "There have been several hypotheses regarding domestication, including that there are some social skills dogs have that wolves don’t, or that dogs can accept humans as social partners and wolves can’t."
The findings have been published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, in a paper titled "Social learning from humans or conspecifics: differences and similarities between wolves and dogs".
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