2023 Author: Bryan Walter | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-21 22:24
Hungarian scientists have discovered that adult wolves raised in captivity have a strong attachment to their trainers. To do this, they followed the behavior of 11 wolves, which were left to walk either with a friend or with a stranger: on a stranger's leash, the wolf more often rushed towards its trainer, experienced severe stress and explored the surrounding space less. Scientists have obtained the same results for domestic dogs. Attachment to humans appears to stem from the wolf's attachment to its pack members, which most likely contributed to early successful domestication, scientists write in Scientific Reports.
At the level of behavior, attachment is usually viewed as a certain form of preference: for example, its formation implies that the object of attachment is irreplaceable, its absence leads to stress, and presence, on the contrary, allows one to freely explore the environment and even feel protected. Based on these parameters, attachment can be called not only the relationship between a child and a parent, but also two adults, as well as a person and his pet.
For example, research shows that a dog-human relationship fits all of the criteria for affection. Pets prefer their master to all other people, behave more calmly in his presence, experience stress and look for the owner if he is not around, and when he appears, they actively greet.
Such attachment, on the one hand, is indeed the result of a long process of domestication. On the other hand, the high socialization of their ancestors served the successful domestication of dogs. Taking into account the fact that wolves can successfully get along with a person and even obey his commands, while still being wolf cubs, it can be assumed that they are also capable of forming an attachment to the master trainer.
To test this, scientists led by Tamás Faragó from the University of Budapest conducted an experiment involving 11 wolves. The animals were older than one and a half years old, and from childhood they were raised by people - either individually or together with brothers and sisters. In addition, nine domestic dogs took part in the experiment: they were used in order to compare their behavior and affection with wolves.
During the experiment, the wolf was led to a forest path. The leash was held either by a trainer or by a stranger who was supposed to walk with the wolf for 50 minutes after the other said goodbye to him (so that the wolf paid attention) and began to leave. At the same time, the second person was still in full view of the wolf - except for the last three minutes of the walk, when he had to hide behind the fence, and then get out. A similar experiment was carried out with dogs, only instead of a forest path they were taken out to the parking lot for a walk.
Both wolves and dogs pulled the leash more often when they saw their trainer or owner leave, and not a stranger (p <0, 001), and in their absence they experienced severe stress (whined and worried), but the wolves eventually got used to to a stranger and expressed less stress. In addition, both dogs and wolves in the presence of the owner studied the environment more (p <0.001).
The wolves, therefore, actually formed an attachment to their handlers in the same way that dogs attached to their masters: their behavior during separation was very similar. Based on this, the authors suggested that the wolf's attachment to humans comes from the ability to bond with other members of the pack: it is possible that in the early stages of domestication, wolves directed their attachment to humans, as a result of which the process itself was effective.
Recently, scientists, with the participation of Farago, also found that wolves raised in close contact with humans are less accommodating than domestic dogs: they are less likely to give a ball at the request of a person and tolerate scratching worse.