The researchers from the Messerli Research Institute at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna believe that wolves are not less socially attentive than dogs.
Dogs, however, cooperate more easily with humans because they more readily accept people as social partners and more easily lose their fear of humans.
To test their hypothesis, Friederike Range and Zsofia Viranyi examined the social attentiveness and tolerance of wolves and dogs within their packs and toward humans. Various behavioural tests showed that wolves and dogs have quite similar social skills.
Among other things, the researchers tested how well wolves and dogs can find food that has been hidden. Both wolves and dogs used information provided by a human to find the hidden food.
In another study, they showed that wolves followed the gaze of humans. To solve the task, the animals may need to be capable of making a mental representation of the 'looker's' perspective. Wolves can do this quite well.
"Overall, the tests showed that wolves are very attentive to humans and to each other. Hypotheses which claim that wolves have limited social skills in this respect in comparison to dogs are therefore incorrect," Range said.