Dogs Use Humans as Tools

The domestication of dogs is one of the few universal domestication events – everywhere that you find humans, you find dogs. Human beings have inarguably benefited from the domesticated of canines. Dogs are used as: hunting aids, herding animals, guards, pest control, beasts of burden, companionship, and even food. However, it looks like it hasn’t been only humans that have benefited from the relationship. Apparently, domesticated dogs (as opposed to their wild, wolf counter-parts) use human beings as beneficial tools.

Human beings provide their canine companions with food, shelter, and even socialization. After generations of selective breeding, dogs have developed a keen eye to observe human body language – especially the practice of “pointing.” Domesticated dogs will begin to follow human pointing gestures as early as four weeks. Wolves, even those raised by humans, never develop this skill. Additionally, when presented with a need to overcome a problem to reach a goal (usually food), dogs will ‘give up’ and look to humans for aid fairly quickly.

To learn more about the research, see the article in Scientific American.

2 thoughts on “Dogs Use Humans as Tools

  1. Jim Wheeler

    I am currently reading evolutionary biologist Edward O. Wilson’s new book, “The Social Conquest of Earth”, which is about similarities in the evolution of humans and certain insects. I’m only halfway through it, but Wilson makes the point that evolution is about more than biology. It also applies to the social behavior of both the individual and the group. I think your post points to a good example of just that – the evolution of the symbiotic relationship between man and dog!

    I am most impressed by the connection between our little Yorkie, Winston, and me. It almost amounts to esp. When the time nears for our walk he sits and stares at me – impossible to ignore.


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