How Dogs Became Dogs

Dogs are not merely tame wolves, although there are certain similarities. The biggest difference is that dogs have evolved to be able to eat human food, which wolves cannot digest. Mutation—evolution if you like—takes a long time to happen. Paleontologists date the beginning of the process to the last ice age.

The Ice Age made huge changes to the environment humans and wolves shared in a competitive, often fractious manner. The climate was colder, snow covered the plants, and there were far fewer animals to eat. The earliest evidence of humans and dogs living together comes from Europe and Central and East Asia.

Reasons Why Humans and Dogs Teamed Up

Archaeologists tell us that early humans threw their bones and meat scraps outside the mouths of their caves. In those days, terrifying wild animals roamed outside at night, so it made sense not to attract them inside. This was agreeable to wolves, too, desperately searching for food to eat. In accepting this gift, they would also sound off an alarm by howling when danger was near.

We don’t know for sure, but it seems reasonable that humans began feeding wolves so that they would guard them outside caves or around hunting camp sites. Wolves became wolf-dogs (aka proto-dogs), and could only have become tamed when they showed themselves to be useful allies rather than fierce competitors.

Food, Protection and the Third Factor: Love

Dogs are the only animals that try to please humans for the sake of it. Next time your dog does something that makes you cross, please do not punish it. Simply show your displeasure with a few angry shouted words. See the expression of horror on your dog’s face. Your dog will give its life for you. All it wants in return is food and clean water, a warm place to sleep near you, and your love.

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