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Losing the Pack?

Since it's October and nearing Halloween, it's the perfect time to talk about wolves! As we all know, our furry best friends came from other furry friends - like wolves! Domestics dogs still share a lot with their wolf ancestors - but not everything. 

In fact, recent studies have been done that suggest that our pups might have lost of the pack mentality that their relatives are so famous for. A research study led by Austrian veterinarian, Sarah Marshall-Pescini, shows that dogs have worse "intra-species cooperation" than wolves.

So, what exactly does this mean? Dogs simply don't communicate with each other as well as wolves do. Wolves live in a pack, which means that they are constantly communicating and making decisions together as a group. So if dogs are direct relatives of wolves, why don't they have these same communication skills? 

The easy answer is us. It's our fault! With domestication, dogs have started to rely on us to take care of them. This completely changes their pack mentality. The primary reason wolves stay in packs is for survival. Since domesticated pups don't need to rely on each other to survive, their dog-to-dog communication isn't as much of a priority. 

Now, it's not just dogs that are domesticated from the start that have trouble communicated (here comes the nature-vs-nuture thing!) but even domesticated dogs that are raised similarly to wolves. This was determined from the study, which took place at the Wolf Science Center in Vienna. 

One dog group and one wolf group, raised in a pack style, were observed for their intraspecies communication skills. One simple cooperative test showed the drastic difference between wolves and dogs. A rope-pulling task had a 24% success rate by the wolves, compared to a measly 0.42% success rate by the dogs.

This difference suggests just how much dogs have changed, even if raised the same way as their wolf buddies. So it's not just our domestication that has caused them to lose their skills, but their genetics, too.

Don't worry, even if our dogs aren't so stellar at communicating with each other, at least they know how to tell us when they're hungry!

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Jenna Gomes

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Jenna Gomes