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Researchers have found that wolves and dogs can both work with humans, but dogs were more compliant.
Scientists from the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna conducted an experiment in Austria’s Wolf Science Center to compare how well dogs and wolves can cooperate with people. The scientists discovered that, while both animals were equally cooperative with humans, wolves took the lead more than dogs did.
The experiment involved two groups. The first group had 15 gray wolves between ages two and eight years old. On the other hand, the second group had 12 mixed-breed dogs aged two to seven years old.
Each animal was paired with a human trainer. The animals and humans needed to work together to pull two ends of a rope attached to a table, which they had to move closer to themselves. Once the task was completed, the animal could then get the food on the table.
In most of the cases, the wolves led the humans in their group and even improvised their own strategies to accomplish the task. In contrast, the dogs often waited for their human partners to move first before following.
The findings of the study suggest that while wolves and dogs are both highly social animals, dogs have a compliant style of cooperation. This means that dogs avoid conflict by conforming to the behavior of their human partners.
The researchers believe that this compliant behavior made dogs ideal companions for people as there would have been less competition over resources like food. Additionally, less conflict meant a safe environment for dogs and people to live side by side.