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Dexter’s – Did you know? Wolves, Dogs, & Humans

A recent study in the research journal Current Biology confirms that dogs realize when they are being treated unequally to their peers. This finding deepens our insight into how a dog’s brain works and suggests that dogs and humans share behavioral traits.

At the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna, Austria, pairs of ten dogs and nine wolves were subjected to reward tests. If one dog consistently received a piece of meat as its reward and its partner consistently received plain old dog food, the partner became less motivated to participate in the reward test — in a sense its own form of protest.

This inequity awareness, or knowledge of being treated unfairly, is a trait shared by humans, monkeys, and other non-human primates. It is important for understanding human behavior. This study has found that dogs and wolves also possess inequity awareness, which cannot be said to exist for other animals. This suggests that dogs and primates share characteristic thinking and feeling processes.

Because this study found that both dogs and wolves possessed inequity awareness, it is likely that this trait was not learned through domestication of the wolf to the modern pet dog. This implies that there may have been an older ancestor of both the modern pet dog and of the wolf that developed this inequity awareness. It is possible that dogs and humans share this common ancestor?

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