Do Wolves Learn Better?

We came across a study which discusses the argument that wolves learn better than dogs. We found it extremely interesting and thought you may enjoy reading it too if you are as passionate about dog obedience and training as us.

It was about how dogs and wolves can in fact learn from each other. This study was conducted by behavioural biologists at the Messerli Research Institute at the Vetmeduni Vienna and the Wolf Science Centre.

What was the initial thesis that led to this study on the learning behaviour of dogs and wolves?

Wolves seem to observe their conspecifics more closely and accurately than dogs. Over 15,000 years ago, the development began, which formed the wolf to the dog . It features the dogs capability to respond to social bonding with man. Now the question arose as to how domestication had or did not affect the behaviour of animals among their peers.

What were the conditions that led to the result of this study on the learning behaviour of wolves?

The researchers observed 14 wolves and 15 mongrel dogs at the Wolf Science Center (WSC) in Ernstbrunn in Lower Austria. The study was conducted by behavioural researchers Friederike Range and Zsofia Viranyi. The dogs and wolves were about half a year old , raised by hand and kept in packs.

How do the wolves solve challenges?

Dogs and wolves could observe their fellows when their containers opened. As part of a social learning attempt, the wolves were imitating better than the dogs.

The animals could observe two situations in which a trained dog opened a wooden box. In one situation the dog used its snout in the other situation the dog used his paw.

In the wooden box there was a reward in the form of food as an incentive. All wolves opened the wooden box after watching their conspecifics open it. Of the 15 dogs, only 4 managed to do so.

Friederike Range interprets: “The wolves have been watching very closely what was done to them and have been able to apply this knowledge to solve the problem. This is probably due to the fact that wolves rely much more on the coordination with conspecifics than dogs and therefore pay more attention to the actions of their partners. “

In order to exclude possible developmental influences by the age of the dogs, the experiment was repeated after nine months. Again, there was no improvement in the results in the dogs.

To read more about the research click here.


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