Dogs Watch Humans for Clues and Help, Wolves Don’t

May 3, 2012

Recent studies are showing what has long been claimed: canines are the only animals that not only meet our gaze, but they actively seek us out when confronted with problems.

Even so-called domesticated wolves, raised by humans, don’t seek us out as social partners for interaction. For the details on this research, see this article in Scientific American by Jason G. Goldman, “Dogs, But Not Wolves, Use Humans As Tools.”

One of the authors of this study, Adam Miklósi has also written an excellent book for the Oxford Biology series, Dog Behaviour, Evolution, and Cognition which I highly recommend. Be forewarned that this is a detailed, technical review of the most recent canine research. It’s not a light read but is well worth the effort if you want to gain deep insight into how your dog thinks and behaves.

This one is not for the casual reader or fan of say, the unthinking sentimentality of Marley & Me or the under-educated and sometimes dangerous methods of Cesar Milan.

In my opinion Marley was not the ‘world’s worst dog,’ John Grogan was simply an inept owner with a knack for spinning colorful anecdotes. Mr. Milan’s methods are more likely to get you bitten and do little or nothing to ‘improve’ your dog. He’s a personality that plays a dog trainer on TV, just like Hugh Laurie plays Dr. House.

Both Grogan and Milan have perfected a formula for making a mint but that’s really about marketing, not canine research or expertise. My opinion: your view might be opposite.


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