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How Dogs Became Man’s Best Friend

Sally Gutteridge
Likely one of the more intriguing aspects of dogs and men becoming companions is how this relationship first began. While it is unlikely that a hunter or gatherer who was out in the forest simply befriended a wild wolf and it took it back to live with their family, there are other more supported domestication scenarios.

One of the more popular theories as to how dogs became domesticated is that some early humans found a way to capture or adopt wolf pups and train them to perform jobs in their villages. While some wolf pups were potentially meant as family pets, many likely worked as guard dogs to protect the villagers and livestock if the village had other domesticated animals. More likely than not, the domestication of wild dogs become popular around the same time that agriculture became prominent across the world (Marshall, 2021).
There are fossils of ancient, domesticated dogs that do corroborate this data, but there are even older fossils that indicate some ancient humans domesticated dogs even earlier than the beginnings of agriculture. In fact, some scientists believe that the domestication of dogs could be twice as old as agriculture itself.

As dogs became more integrated parts of ancient civilizations, humans likely became better companions with the dogs who are more friendly and social. While some scientists like to call this the “survival of the friendliest” concept because the dogs who got along better with the hunters and gatherers were likely the ones who were kept around (Handwerk, 2018). 

More likely than not, wolves also became domesticated as they came more comfortable around humans. This means that the ones who were more comfortable around