Dogs, but not wolves, lose their sensitivity to novelty with age
The selection of behavioral traits has a prominent role in domestication of animals.
Specifically, a reduction in the response to fear is considered a key component in domesticated animals that express lower levels of fear of novelty than their wild counterparts.
Previous work by other researchers on neophobia in dogs and wolves, has suggested that this is caused by a delay in the onset of fearful behavior during early ontogeny in domesticated canids.
However, it is not clear how the timing of the development of the initial expression of fear affects fear later in development.
Development of fear behavior in dogs and wolves
Here, researchers present the first examination Extensive development of the behavior of fear in wolves and dogs, using repeated tests before novel objects between six and 26 weeks of age.
Contrary to expectations, the fear of novelty did not change in wolves with age but dogs expressed a decreased latency to approach a new object with age, resulting in a species difference at the end of the measured period.
The results suggest that the differences in fear of novelty between wolves and dogs are not caused by a change driven by domestication at the first start of the fear response.
In contrast, differences in fear expression between wolves and dogs are caused by a loss of sensitivity towards novelty with age in dogs .
• More information on "Dogs, but not wolves, lose their sensitivity to novelty with age", in bioRxiv.
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