Domestication Might Have Made Dogs Worse Than Wolves At Cooperating, Not Better

When it comes to dogs, the general understanding is that domestication made them more tolerant and cooperative. But it appears that it might actually have made them worse at cooperating with other dogs. New research comparing dog and wolf behaviors showed that the wild canines are far better at working together than their domestic counterparts.

The study, published in Proceeding of the National Academy of Science, looked at how good wolves and dogs were at a cooperative rope-pulling test. The task required two individual to simultaneously pull two ropes, which brought a tray closer to them and allowed them to access food. Dog pairs were only successful twice out of 472 attempts while the wolf duos managed to cooperate successfully in 100 out 416 attempts.

The cooperation in wolves was stronger when the individuals in the pair were of similar rank or with close social bonds. The wolves appeared to also play with the test most more, which might provide them with the necessary information to grasp how the machinery works. Dogs, on the other hand, the authors suggested, might be trying to avoid a conflict with their partner and that might be why they failed more often.  

The team believes that this finding shows that social behavior is crucial for successful cooperation among other members of the same species. Wolves rely heavily on cooperation for hunting, raising pups, and for defending the territory. This is why they cooperate better with each other than dogs do.

“We still have very much this idea of the big, bad wolf and the cuddly pooch on your sofa,” lead author Dr Sarah Marshall-Pescini, from the Wolf Science Center in Vienna, told BBC News. “But, I think the simplest message is that the story is not quite as clear as that.”

This study is just another piece of the complex puzzle that is the domestication of dogs. The date dogs were first domesticated ranges from 40,000 to 20,000 years and we possibly even domesticated them twice. Other hotly debated areas are where they were first domesticated, how long it took, and how the domestication process came to be.

There are many questions regarding how dogs became humanity’s best friends and studies like this help break down what might have made us fall in love with our four-legged companions.

[H/T: BBC News]

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Woman invented coffee for dogs and gave it a very disturbing name

For some reason, a woman in Lithuania invented a coffee to be consumed by dogs. If that’s not alarming enough, the brand’s name is “Rooffee” — which sounds uncomfortably similar to the shortened term for infamous date-rape drug rohypnol, also known as “roofie.”

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Google Photos can now recognize the lovable faces of your cats and dogs

I wish this was one of the approximately 8,000 dog photos on my phone.
Image: Ruud Lauritsen/Kennel Club/REX/Shutterstock

Google knows that your phone holds untold gigabytes of snapshots of your favorite animal friends. So the search giant is making it even easier to group those pics all together.

The algorithm behind Google Photos will now be able to recognize your Very Good dogs and cats automatically, and will group the reams of photos you’ve taken of them just like it does with pics of people. Google announced the new functionality in a blog post, which is alone worth a read for the sheer number of paw puns pulled off in five short paragraphs. 

You’ll also be able to assign a label to each grouping of pet photos, so when you’re in need of an Instagram-worthy pupper shot, you can just search your photos by your dog’s name. 

Image: google

Google claims you’ll be able search your photos by breed, too, but the company acknowledged to BuzzFeed that the algorithm could have trouble differentiating between multiple animals within that parameter. You’ll also be able to search using 🐶  and 🐱 emoji through all of your animal images, whether they’re actually your own, or just the funny cat pics you download from the internet.  

The new search and organization features are only available for dogs and cats, though. If you love your horse or iguana or massive rideable python, you’re sadly out of luck. You’ll have to organize those pics yourself.       

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Koala escaping dogs gets a helping hand from farmer with a quad bike

While it’s better to leave them alone, sometimes our animal friends could use a helping hand.

Like this koala, who hitched a ride with a farmer on his quad bike after nearly ending up in a pond, frightened by some dogs, according to 7 News.

“I’m just giving him a ride back to the dairy, so he can dry off,” the farmer said in the video. Upon returning it ran up a tree, where hopefully it doesn’t have to encounter a bunch of pesky dogs ever again.

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California Bans The Sale Of Dogs From Puppy Mills

A new law has been signed in California to ban pet stores from selling animals that come from puppy mills. It’s the first law of its kind in the US and ensures that pet stores work alongside shelters, rescue homes, and humane breeders if they want to sell animals.

Governor of California Jerry Brown announced last Friday that by January 1, 2019, anyone found selling dogs, cats, and rabbits from mills could face a fine up to $500.

There have been several horror stories about puppy mills in America. In fact, earlier this year it was reported that 105 dogs were rescued from an illegal kennel just outside Charlotte in North Carolina, where an unlicensed breeder named Patricia Yates had been breeding dogs for years. She was later charged with 12 counts of animal cruelty. Puppy mills like Yates’ have been described as “the secret shame of the pet industry”. 

Puppy mills have always been controversial due to the terrible conditions the animals are kept in, their lack of care for the animals’ health, and the irresponsible breeding that takes place within them. 

President and CEO of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), Matt Bershadker, told Business Insider, “This landmark law breaks the puppy mill supply chain that pushes puppies into California pet stores and has allowed unscrupulous breeders to profit from abusive practices.”

“By signing this groundbreaking bill, California has set an important, humane precedent for other states to follow,” added Gregory Castle, CEO of Best Friends Animal Society. “We commend Governor Brown’s signing of this lifesaving legislation to codify statewide what cities across California have already done to help put an end to the cruelty of pet mills.”

Although some stores claim to only sell puppies from independent and licensed breeders, there are a large number of pet stores in the US still supplying customers with puppies, and even kittens, from mills.

Animals in these mills are usually kept in overcrowded conditions, with very little food and water. They can also suffer from serious problems, like mental instability or aggression, as a result of their traumatic early lives.



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Dogs really do put on ‘puppy eyes’ to get what they want

Have you ever wondered whether your pooch is trying to tell you something by giving you puppy dog eyes?

Well, scientists believe that our canine friends really are attempting to communicate using that pout or those irresistible pleading eyes.

Researchers found that dogs raise their eyebrows when they are looked at, a mechanism which makes their eyes appear bigger.

But the clever clogs canines won’t do the same when handed food – suggesting their brow waggling is more than just excitement and could be an attempt to tell us something.

There is plenty of evidence that primates adopt facial expressions when they are in front of an audience.

But there has been little research into how our pets might be manipulating us using their eyes and facial movements.

Experts at the University of Portsmouth found that dogs produced significantly more facial movements when being watched than not.

They increased the frequency of certain expressions as a way of communicating.

This included puppy dog eyes, unromantically described as movement AU101, which was used more when being watched by a person.

This was because dogs know it can bring them what they want, study lead Professor Juliana Kaminski and her colleagues concluded.

Writing in the study, which was published in Scientific Reports, Prof Kaminski stated: “Another possibility is that the AU101 lets the eyes of the dogs appear bigger and more infant-like.
“Regardless of the exact mechanism, it seems that humans are particularly responsive to this facial movement in dogs.

“Increased production of this movement in response to human attention could benefit dogs in their interaction with humans, therefore.”

The team tested 24 different breeds of dogs including German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers and mongrels.

They were observed while interacting with a human demonstrator facing them, with their back to them and with or without food.

It has been a big week for dog research in the science world.

In addition to learning of their potentially manipulative ways, scientists have also discovered that our beloved pets know when we are afraid and that it, in turn, makes them feel fear too.

Biagio D’Aniello of the University of Naples discovered that pooches exposed to fear smells (formed in our sweat) showed more signs of stress than those exposed to happy or neutral smells.

This story was originally published in The Sun.

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