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Why dogs can't forgive and forget with each other

Domesticated dogs have lost their ability to quickly settle disagreements and reconcile, unlike the pack mentality exhibited by wolves.

Researchers from the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna recently conducted a study comparing wolves in captivity to rescue dogs at a shelter.

The study was published in the Royal Society Open Science Journal.

The researchers set out to see how wolf packs and wolf behavior differed after a fight compared to the shelter dogs who were domesticated.

The ability to quickly resolve a fight is an important skill for many social species who congregate in groups, packs, and herds.

However, domesticated dogs seem to have lost their “pack mentality,” and according to a report from the Daily Mail, this makes it more difficult to resolve fights as well as wolves do.

“Highly cooperative social species are expected to engage in frequent reconciliation following conflicts in order to maintain pack cohesiveness and preserve future cooperation,” the researchers said.

The team observed four captive wolf packs and rescue dogs at a shelter. The wolves got into fights often with each other, almost once an hour, but quickly made up within ten minutes.

For the shelter dogs, the researchers observed that the dogs fought less but when they did the dogs were more aggressive and violent and did not reconcile after.

Less than one in five fights were quickly resolved with the shelter dogs.

Wolf packs require co-operation and so fighting and resolutions are necessary for keeping the peace and the researchers say this could explain why domesticated dogs are unable to efficiently resolve conflicts.

“We provide evidence for reconciliation in captive wolves, which are highly dependent on cooperation between pack members, while domestic dogs, which rely on conspecific cooperation less than wolves, avoided interacting with their partners after conflicts,” the researchers concluded. “Our results are in line with previous findings on various wolf packs living under different social and ecological conditions, suggesting that reconciliation is an important strategy for maintaining functional relationships and pack cohesiveness.”

By Kay Vandette, Staff Writer

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