The Wild Roots of Dogs

Ever wonder why dogs act the way they do? It all goes back to their roots....this article will explain the heritage of domesticated dogs and how that effects their behavior today.

As pet owners, we can look at the behavior of a dog's wild relatives and learn about what makes a them tick! I hope you enjoy my article today! If you do, leave me a comment!!

The Dog Family

It may seem silly to you to compare the actions of domesticated dogs to the behaviors of animals such as the wolf and coyote....but there are incredibly strong similarities! Let's start by talking about the family structure of dogs (both wild and domesticated).

Family Life:

Let's take a closer look at the family life of wolves and coyotes. Both live in a group called a "pack" where one member is the leader and is dominant over all the other members. The "followers" will show they are submissive by tucking their tails in between their legs, urinating, and by exposing their bellies. Think this has nothing to do with your dog? Think again! Our dogs at home are technically still living in a "pack environment", the only difference is that we are the leaders. This means that you should always have control over your dog and you should never let him become the leader. Your house would be in total chaos and your dog's behavior would be terrible!

Wolves and coyotes feel safest when they are with their pack, they need it for survival. In the wild, wolves and coyotes hunt animals that are much larger than they are so in order to bring down a big animal, they need every member of the pack to chip in. This is a way they as a group become closer and more trusting of each other. Your dog at home does similar things to you - bringing a ball for you to play catch with and playing frisbee are just a couple examples. These activities develop trust between you and your dog and also serve to strengthen your bond.


Most domestic dogs are quite the socialite! They love to be the center of attention and receive praise and affection from others around them. You may notice that your dog will follow you around throughout the day, or join you while you relax....this is the sign of a true, loving companion and is a great comfort to have around.

Social Similarities:

Why do male dogs lift their legs every 5 feet? The answer: they are marking their territory. The same exact thing happens in the wild. From the scent your dog leaves behind, other dogs can learn valuable information and they will also understand whose territory they are trespassing on. Dogs in the wild and at home both use their noses to get acquainted with each other. This also gives them plenty of knowledge about you, and you don't even have to say one word!! By smelling you, they are deciding if you are a member of the pack and can be accepted.

Physical Comparisons:

Besides having incredibly sniffers, dogs also have really good hearing. When hunting, wolves and coyotes will track prey using both their sense of smell and their hearing. A dog from my younger years had incredibly keen hearing. Every day when my dad was pulling down our street, she would hear him long before any of us every did, and she would go stand at our back door wagging her tail. We all knew my dad was home just by looking at her reaction!!

There is something I do need to warn you about: beware of purchasing wolf hybrid dogs!!! These animals can be incredibly dangerous, and they are becoming more and more popular! Ask as many questions as you can about the dog you are interested in purchasing, and if you suspect the dog to be a wolf hybrid.....GET OUT OF THERE FAST!!