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Unread 01-17-2013, 06:05 PM   #1
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Default Study examines impact of early sensory experience and socialization in dog and wolves

Interesting article examining the research of evolutionary biologist Kathryn Lord at the University of Massachusetts Amherst exploring the significance of the earliest sensory experiences and the critical period of socialization in dogs and wolves and the resultant impact:

"Until now, little was known about sensory development in wolf pups, and assumptions were usually extrapolated from what is known for dogs, Lord explains. This would be reasonable, except scientists already know there are significant differences in early development between wolf and dog pups, chief among them timing of the ability to walk, she adds.
To address this knowledge gap, she studied responses of seven wolf pups and 43 dogs to both familiar and new smells, sounds and visual stimuli, tested them weekly, and found they did develop their senses at the same time. But her study also revealed new information about how the two subspecies of Canis lupus experience their environment during a four-week developmental window called the critical period of socialization, and the new facts may significantly change understanding of wolf and dog development.
When the socialization window is open, wolf and dog pups begin walking and exploring without fear and will retain familiarity throughout their lives with those things they contact. Domestic dogs can be introduced to humans, horses and even cats at this stage and be comfortable with them forever. But as the period progresses, fear increases and after the window closes, new sights, sounds and smells will elicit a fear response.
Through observations, Lord confirmed that both wolf pups and dogs develop the sense of smell at age two weeks, hearing at four weeks and vision by age six weeks on average. However, these two subspecies enter the critical period of socialization at different ages. Dogs begin the period at four weeks, while wolves begin at two weeks. Therefore, how each subspecies experiences the world during that all-important month is extremely different, and likely leads to different developmental paths, she says.
Lord reports for the first time that wolf pups are still blind and deaf when they begin to walk and explore their environment at age two weeks. "No one knew this about wolves, that when they begin exploring they're blind and deaf and rely primarily on smell at this stage, so this is very exciting," she notes.
She adds, "When wolf pups first start to hear, they are frightened of the new sounds initially, and when they first start to see they are also initially afraid of new visual stimuli. As each sense engages, wolf pups experience a new round of sensory shocks that dog puppies do not."
Meanwhile, dog pups only begin to explore and walk after all three senses, smell, hearing and sight, are functioning. Overall, "It's quite startling how different dogs and wolves are from each other at that early age, given how close they are genetically. A litter of dog puppies at two weeks are just basically little puddles, unable to get up or walk around. But wolf pups are exploring actively, walking strongly with good coordination and starting to be able to climb up little steps and hills."
These significant, development-related differences in dog and wolf pups' experiences put them on distinctly different trajectories in relation to the ability to form interspecies social attachments, notably with humans, Lord says. This new information has implications for managing wild and captive wolf populations, she says.
Her experiments analyzed the behavior of three groups of young animals: 11 wolves from three litters and 43 dogs total. Of the dogs, 33 border collies and German shepherds were raised by their mothers and a control group of 10 German shepherd pups were hand-raised, meaning a human was introduced soon after birth.
At the gene level, she adds, "the difference may not be in the gene itself, but in when the gene is turned on. The data help to explain why, if you want to socialize a dog with a human or a horse, all you need is 90 minutes to introduce them between the ages of four and eight weeks. After that, a dog will not be afraid of humans or whatever else you introduced. Of course, to build a real relationship takes more time. But with a wolf pup, achieving even close to the same fear reduction requires 24-hour contact starting before age three weeks, and even then you won't get the same attachment or lack of fear."




Why wolves are forever wild, but dogs can be tamed

ETA: additional link: http://health.usnews.com/health-news...s-can-be-tamed
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Unread 01-17-2013, 06:12 PM   #2
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Very interesting!
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Unread 01-17-2013, 06:35 PM   #3
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Great article!!

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Unread 01-17-2013, 07:31 PM   #4
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This kind of stuff is SO interesting to me.

If anybody wants a good book on dog sensory, check out the book Inside of a Dog by Alexandra Horowitz. It's been really interesting and went over some of these developmental differences between dogs and wolves. Apparently there are even some developmental differences between certain breeds. Huskies, for example, develop more similarly to wolf pups than border collie pups. And poodles don't begin to play fight until a later age than most other breed puppies. Nobody has yet researched how these developmental differences within breeds affect the breed's relationship with people (since huskies are more independent while borders and poodles are bred to work and be companions).
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Unread 01-17-2013, 10:04 PM   #5
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Ok Sugardog... now I have to get that book. Very interesting, to say the least.

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Unread 01-18-2013, 08:28 AM   #6
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Very interesting article! And as we know dogs have around 98% wolf in them so how come dogs have been 'domesticated' succesfully to be with humans and other animals is it because of the evolving of a wolf to dog has taken years to get to where we are now and the 2% has been removed during the evolving process and is this 2% enough to continue or will another 1000 years reduce the 98% wolf in a dog to even lower figure?
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Unread 01-22-2013, 11:31 PM   #7
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very interesting artical. and sugardog thanks for the book reccomendation it was only 5.99 on amazon so its on its way
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