Traditionally, humans acquired canines to serve functional purposes (Marston & Bennett, 2003). We have been able to document a relationship between humans and dogs as far back as twelve thousand years.
As our ancestors began to become less nomadic, they settled down and started forming small communities where they learned to grow crops and raise livestock (Horowitz, 2009). These settled communities were sufficiently stable and it wasn’t long before wild animals began noticing that they produced a large amount of waste.
Wolves are scavengers as well as hunters and may have been some of the first animals to discover this squander treasure (Horowitz, 2009). The least fearful of these wolves became increasingly undaunted by the presence of the unfamiliar humans. Together the two species began to tolerate one another through prolonged encounters until finally, humans began taking in a few pups as “pets” or, in times of hardship, “food.”
Eventually, our ancestors began intentionally breeding these “domesticated” wolves to serve as assistant hunters and protectors (Horowitz, 2009). We can only surmise that the functionality of these domestic wolves served a great purpose; for what other reason would justify letting a meat-eater into one’s home? It would be difficult to provide provisions for such an animal and if one were unsuccessful, they befall a risk of becoming their pet wolf’s next meal.
In present day, people adopt canines for numerous reasons. The most common reported reason for acquiring a canine is for companionship, followed by promotion of exercise, proceeded by protection, and finally for breeding or showing (Jagoe & Serpell, 1996).
A study performed by Andrew Jagoe and James Serpell (1996) revealed that dogs acquired for companionship demonstrated a lower prevalence of competitive aggression. Canines adopted primarily for promotion of exercise exhibited significantly lower dominance-type aggression and competitive aggression. Dogs that were attained for protection displayed a significantly higher pervasiveness of territorial-type aggression. Lastly, canines taken on for breeding or showing purposes presented a significantly lower frequency of dominance-type aggression.
So, what exactly does this study imply? Canines primarily acquired for promotion of exercise demonstrated a more interactive, owner-lead style of training and this served as their predominant relationship (Jagoe & Serpell, 1996). Dogs attained for protection are more likely chosen from herding or guarding breeds. Owners of these dogs are more likely to encourage and reinforce behaviors that demonstrate territorial aggression. Canines taken on for breeding or showing purposes are typically trained to tolerate invasive procedures and have a large threshold for annoyances before displaying any sign of aggression.
What about dogs adopted primarily for companionship? The research results answering such a question vary dramatically, dependent upon whether the canine...