Sometime between 27,000 to 40,000 years ago, scientists say dogs became different from wolves.
That’s a long time ago, but pretty close to when the first humans are believed to have traveled from Asia to North America. This is a period of time known as the Late Stone Age.
When humans began using dogs as pets, to help guard their homes and carry their suitcases, is not known. But it’s safe to say that dogs and humans have been hanging out together for thousands and thousands of years. Lots of zeros.
In that time, dogs have changed a lot. There are all these different breeds, some of which were created by humans to do specific things – like dogs that are really good at pulling sleds, such as Huskys.
Living with humans for such a long time has changed dogs in other ways, too. A recent study by scientists found that wolves were better at cooperating to complete a chore. This seems to make sense if you consider that wolves often have to depend on each other to take care of pups, defend their packs and hunt. Dogs just have to find a good owner.
The scientists tested their idea by creating a feeding system that only worked if two dogs or two wolves pulled on separate ropes at the same time. If they did, it showed they were good at cooperating. Dogs did really bad on this test, figuring it out just two out of 472 times. Wolves did much better, getting the food 100 times out of 416 tries.
The scientists also found out that the wolves did better if they were similar in rank, like both were the leaders or both were just members of the pack. The scientists believe that dogs did so badly because they didn’t want to fight over the food.
I once had two German shepherd dogs that we adopted from a pound. They were a brother and sister, and they often got into fights over food. They probably wouldn’t have done well on the rope-pulling test, either.
— Brett French, firstname.lastname@example.org