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.