Rearing condition and willingness to approach a stranger explain differences in point following performance in wolves and dogs


The relative importance of adaptation and individual ontogenetic experience in dogs’ high levels of behavioral compatibility with humans has been a topic of intense scientific attention over the past two decades. Salomons et al. Current Biology, 31, 3137–3144, recently presented a particularly rich data set of observations on both wolf and dog puppies that has the potential to contribute substantially to this debate. In their study subjecting wolf and dog puppies to batteries of tests, including the ability to follow human pointing gestures, Salomons et al. reported that dogs, but not wolves, have a specialized innate capacity for cooperation with humans. However, upon reanalyzing this data set, we reach a different conclusion—namely, that when controlling adequately for various environmental factors, wolves and dogs perform similarly in their cooperation with humans.

In Learning & Behavior.