How domestication ruined dogs’ instincts

We know that dogs are the nation’s favorite pet, in fact, they are probably the most popular pet in the world. So many people have dogs these days, and they make a wonderful and important addition to the household. We still don’t know too much about the role of dogs before they became the dogs we know and love today – though there have been several theories posed to help explain the origins of dogs.

We all know that dogs, like most animals, are not naturally domesticated. In fact, their natural state is to be roaming the wilds and enjoying being animals. This is what they naturally would be like were it not for domestication, and this is one of the reasons why so many dogs that aren’t well trained, can cause a lot of problems for people. Let’s look at how domestication has ruined and affected dogs’ natural instincts.

How dogs started out

Many people believe that way back when, dogs started life as wild wolves, who would often hang around campsites looking for excess food left by humans and hunters. The theory postulates that they became more docile and domesticated in order to make it easier to be around humans without the humans having fear. Thus they were able to get more food as a result, and this evolution took hold – they slowly evolved behavior and appearance, and became closer to the four-legged friends we know and love today.


As dogs spent more time with us, they became more used to human behavior and started to understand the way we communicated better, but they lost something along the way as well. Studies carried out by the University of Vienna found that domestic dogs cannot work together well to perform simple tasks as a team. By testing them pulling on two bits of rope to drag food closer to them, dogs were largely terrible; however, wolves were remarkably good at this task, which is one of the things that illustrates the change that has taken place. Domesticated dogs have lost their pack mentality because of their relationship to humans.

Dogs vs. wolves

It’s not just the fact that they perform worse at tasks like this, there are actually quite a few differences between dogs and wolves. For example, there are studies carried out to look at wild dogs as well, and they are quite different to wolves as well. They generally live in a loose-knit pack, and scavenge alone, as opposed to wolves who are all about the pack. Vienna’s Wolf Science Center raises dogs and wolves in exactly the same way, with plenty of human contact, and this was where the task training took place. It seems that dogs were keen to avoid conflict, and were not really interested in working with other dogs. Wolves aced it through coordination and the desire to work as a team for the greater good.

As you can see, dogs have changed their natural behavior quite a bit since they have become domesticated. They have lost that wild streak to them, which is probably a good thing, but they have also lost the pack and cooperation mentality. There are so many differences these days between dogs and wolves, and we need to suss these out as soon as we can.