Take a second to think about some of your dog’s day-to-day behaviors: they howl, dig holes, sniff out scents and bark, all of which are behaviors passed down from their wolf ancestors, right? In fact, some of these traits are definitely ancestral, but not all of them.
As ancestors of wolves, it makes sense that many of our dog’s innate behaviors come from their ancestors; however, barking is not one of them. In fact, mature wolves in the wild don’t bark like our dogs do; that behavior is limited to cubs and juveniles.
The reason for non-barking behavior is that in the wild, wolves know that if danger is present, the best thing to do is be as quiet as possible, staying hidden until the threat has passed.
Our canine companions on the other hand prefer to deal with threats in the opposite way, barking at them until they go away. But if wolves are the ancestors of dogs, why do their barking behaviors vary so greatly?
Some researchers believe that dogs learn this behavior due to their close relationships with humans. Humans are very vocal creates and our pups learn pretty quickly that we’re not so great at picking up their non-verbal cues. To make sure that their owners understand what they’re trying to communicate, our dogs default to verbal cues.
However, there are other researchers who believe that our dog’s barking behaviors are due to years of selective breeding. We prefer dogs that are gentle and friendly and as a result over the years have bred these juvenile characteristics into our dogs. And as I’m sure you guessed, barking is just a side effect of these juvenile behaviors.
Whether our dogs bark to communicate with us or simply because they’re more like wolf cubs than mature wolves, we have come to accept barking as a dog’s natural behavior. If you ask us, barking is just one of the many endearing behaviors we couldn’t imagine our dogs not having.
H/t to Paws for Thought