Horizon (1964) s00e69 Episode Script

Woof! A Horizon Guide to Dogs

There's one animal that has captured the human heart and mind more than any other.
But you don't need to go into the wild to find it, or even a zoo.
Its natural habitat is your living room and that animal is the dog.
Human beings have been living with dogs for over 12,000 years.
We're closer to them than to any other animal, they're part of the fabric of our daily lives.
But despite our long shared history, how much do we really know about our canine friends? DOG BARKING DOG BARKING For over 40 years, Horizon and the BBC have been examining the nature of dogs.
The ears when they are upright like that they mean the animal is less aggressive.
In a bid to better understand the intense, and often complex relationship, we have with them.
DOG BARKING Fudge is definitely in charge.
I want to be in control.
He's meant to be my pet and at the moment, he is the master.
From discovering their origins DOG HOWLING DOGS HOWLING .
to revealing our own role in the dog's evolution.
Well they've only got little legs and they're a bit deformed as well.
But this one, for me, is absolute perfection.
Scientists have tried to decipher dogs' often puzzling behaviour.
DOG HOWLING And have discovered the impact of our wildly varying attitude towards them.
Bad Dogs! From one extreme I feel that perhaps there's a whole market of fashionable people who are just looking for this type of whimsical, fun approach.
to another.
I'd say he's been down there for days.
Now can we use what we've learnt to re-examine our thinking about dogs? Sometime in the domestication of the dog, we've changed the way their brains work.
And should that change the way we treat them? Sit! Sit! The origin of dogs and how they became part of our lives has always fascinated us.
But it wasn't until the 1960s, that scientists really began to explore how the dog might be descended from a wilder canine ancestor.
In West Germany at Kiel, scientists are studying domesticated animals, animals bred by man for thousands of years.
Eric Zimen's special study is the dog.
He's attempting to establish how exactly it originated and what has happened to it under domestication.
He believes the dog is derived from the wolf.
One proof is to see if it's possible to cross one with the other, and here they have successfully mated a poodle with a female wolf.
Maxi, come here.
Come, Maxi! Maxi the wolf and Julius the dog have been living here now for seven years.
They have had about 40 children and 60 to 70 grandchildren.
These are the children, the first generation.
Creatures which look neither like wolf nor poodle.
As you can see, they have standing ears, they are black colour.
The ear is from the wolf, the colour is from the dog.
In behaviour they are in between.
They are half dogs, half wolves.
These are the grandchildren, the second generation and their inherited characteristics are clearer.
Some closely resemble poodles.
Others wolves.
Unlike the horse and the donkey which produce a sterile mule, the fertility of the offspring of the wolf and poodle is evidence of the close relationship between the two.
In the days before DNA testing, the success of this crossbreeding was seen as evidence of a strong genetic connection between the two species, although it would be another 30 years before this was proven conclusively.
But why would early humans have befriended a wild animal? One theory about the domestication of the dog is that wolves followed men hunting and gradually became involved in man's hunting activities.
If this is the case, this would be a very natural symbiosis.
Because dogs possess some features which man lack.
They have a superb sense of smell which is useful in hunting and they can run faster than man.
Scientists tried to recreate what that first contact might have been like.
This is probably the first time that untamed wolves have been harnessed to a sledge.
Maybe this is repeating what early man did 10,000 years ago when he started to socialise wolves.
He kept them together.
He kept them close to his own society.
In this way, he got them tame, he crossed small and big wolves and that way he got different breeds and so on.
Beginning would have taken a long time, many thousand years.
To better understand how wolves gradually became members of our society, scientists have looked to the millions of semi-wild dogs living around us today.
All over the world, millions of dogs live on the fringes of human society, scavenging around our homes and villages.
They are the canine equivalent of a city pigeon.
Creatures which we largely ignore, but allow to live among us.
This way of life is in fact the natural habitat of the dog.
Most of the world's 400 million still live like this, parasites, unobtrusive scavengers who gently exploit us.
Although its tempting to think of them all as strays and escaped pets, and maybe even pity them, these village dogs are in fact what the wolves became, acting as natural waste disposal teams around our homes and villages.
By overcoming their instinctive fear of us, they found it was easier to take scraps from our campfires than to kill food for themselves.
It seems remarkable that such a simple step could turn one animal into another.
But scavenging was all it took to start a genetic chain reaction that began turning the wolf into the dog by bringing us together.
And it was this discovery of the clear link between dog and wolf that was to shape our understanding of dogs for decades.
Scientists began to look to the wolf, to explain all kinds of things about the domestic dog.
PHONE RINGING DOG HOWLING Many of our dogs' most puzzling traits could be directly traced to their wild origins.
Some things are obvious.
It's not difficult to see why your dog buries a bone.
It represents surplus food, which for this wolf, can be buried until another day.
Most dogs love to play, with a compulsive urge to shake things from slippers to old toys.
And the reason becomes clear as soon as we see a wild coyote pouncing on its prey and killing it by tossing it, and shaking it to break its neck.
The dog isn't so much licking the face as the mouth.
And it's doing that for a very specific reason and in a very specific way.
The young pups try to get their noses and tongues inside the corner of the adult's muzzle.
Species to species and continent to continent, exactly the same gesture.
In wild dogs and in pets.
And the reason? The dog wants you or, in the wild, its parent, to regurgitate food.
Growling is one means of warning.
And that's just the same with wolves.
Snarling, curling the lips back to expose the teeth.
It's all meant to make you back down.
And let's face it, it works.
So there he is, man's best friend, the wolf.
It all seemed wonderfully simple.
To understand the true nature of dogs, we just needed to look back to their wild wolf ancestor.
But we were missing something.
Simply seeing dogs as friendlier versions of the grey wolf, was overlooking the most important factor in the dog's development and that is us.
The partnership between hunters and wolves proved to be a pivotal moment in the evolution of the dog.
From that point on, humans started to influence their breeding, favouring some animals over others.
Scientists began to realise that this early contact had transformed the evolutionary path of the dog.
As man brought animals into domestication, he was able to control their breeding and adapt it to his own purpose.
He recognised that like begets like.
And on this principle, he bred from those animals he found useful and weeded out the offspring he didn't want.
Man would have selected animals that were the most handle-able and the most docile.
As a result a whole series of changes took place.
And wolf became dog.
By breeding from the tamest animals, human beings were shaping the dog's development.
But how could this selective breeding turn a wild animal into a household pet? One unique study has spent 50 years trying to find out.
A remarkable experiment in Siberia may hold the key to understanding how wolves turned into dogs.
50 years ago, soviet scientists set up a breeding programme to try and domesticate silver foxes.
The scale of the project has opened a remarkable window on domestication.
It's become a focal point for scientists across the world.
Here, on a farm outside the city of Novosibirsk, the experiment still continues today, overseen by Dr Ludmilla Trutt.
The breeding programme began in 1959 when the first foxes were selected from local fur farms.
We approached the animals in the cages and recorded their reaction to us.
We could see that some of the foxes showed aggressive behaviour, others were frightened but only one percent of them showed neither signs of fear or aggression.
This one percent were selected to become the founding generation of a new population of foxes.
At every generation the selection process was repeated, with only the tamest foxes being allowed to breed.
Within just three generations, the aggressive behaviour began to disappear.
The radical changes came through in the 8th generation.
When foxes started to seek contact with humans and show affection to them.
The amazing thing was that cubs, who had just started to crawl, opened their eyes and started showing affection to humans by breathing heavily, wagging their tails and howling.
This kind of response was a big surprise to us.
Half a century on, the 50th generation of foxes are tamer than ever.
So within 50 years of our intensive selection process, this fire-breathing-dragon has turned into a human friend.
The Siberian experiment is an accelerated model of how dogs might have been domesticated over generations.
By choosing the tamest animals, human beings had created a new species, quite distinct from the wolf.
We might have bred our dogs to be tamer than their wild ancestors, but there were some aspects of the wolf we were actually rather keen to preserve.
Ever since the early hunters exploited the wolves' superior speed and sense of smell, humans have improved dogs' natural skills through breeding.
And put them to work.
At first, the dogs' natural instincts were exploited, as they were given jobs that harked back to their wolf heritage, hunting and herding livestock.
Now among wolves, we know that they will often set an ambush.
That one half of the pack will take up position and very lie still while the others work round and drive the quarry into the waiting ambush.
And that is precisely what a sheepdog is doing.
Using this natural quality we can see in the wild animals.
But it wasn't a case of one dog fits all.
Breeders soon realised they could breed for particular skills, creating a fleet of canine specialists.
The Springer was in fact a dog that could get into cover, could search out and flush the game.
It worked like a pack of wild dogs each one of which would be doing the same sort of searching.
One of the more recently developed gun dogs is the Labrador.
It was originally bred in Newfoundland by the fishermen.
Has a particularly thick coat and can work in icy waters for long periods.
It was trained to swim ashore from fishing boats carrying a mooring rope between its teeth.
Its modern function is a simple extension of this, to retrieve game after it's been shot.
The basset hound has a very fine sense of smell and man has used it for hunting.
When the hounds are being brought together, they bark in chorus and this is comparable to the communal howling of wolves before they set out.
The dog's abilities were being harnessed, to enhance our own.
I love to see the dog being an extension of myself.
It gives me four fast legs and a nose and I can extend myself and put myself anywhere, through that dog.
And dogs did everything asked of them so well, that as time went on, their job description expanded.
Some dogs were bred to be canine superheroes.
Here's a chap who is clearly in difficulties.
Just see the speed at which the dog is swimming out towards the drowning man.
While others were used for their ferocity.
DOG BARKING The very use of dogs as security guards offends some people, but if they're properly trained and handled, they're a very practical deterrent to would-be criminals.
Dogs' intuition could even be used to replace our own senses.
All over the world, dogs were being trained to do jobs that people couldn't or wouldn't do themselves.
From the Avalanche rescue dogs of the Swiss Alps.
To the Husky sled teams of Canada's far north.
In Namibia, this puppy has been bred to protect goats from wild predators, once he grows up.
And in almost every world conflict, dogs have earned their stripes on the battlefield.
These dogs are being trained by the Americans in Vietnam to recognise, pursue and attack the Viet Cong.
The Russians even sent dogs to conquer the final frontier.
These are Russian space dogs going through their training.
And it's a rigorous training that they need a hard one indeed.
They've got to get used to those tremendous speeds which they will gather as they go up into the skies.
And this is one of the ways in which they've been trained to do that.
Look at that.
And here one in its special harness is being swung round and round at a tremendous pace, again, to learn to stand those tremendous forces which are bound to be exerted on it as it goes up into the air.
The Soviet Union has launched a second earth satellite.
The satellite is carrying a dog as experimental passenger.
Sadly, Laika the space dog never made it back to Earth but she was a true pioneer.
The extent of our impact on dogs is undeniable.
Through breeding we created dogs tame enough to live with us and useful enough to work for us.
But our influence didn't stop there.
It turns out there's a curious by-product to all of our messing with dog evolution.
In selecting dogs based on their abilities or good nature, we've actually changed their physical characteristics.
Horizon has looked at the remarkable impact human selection has had on dogs' appearance.
The dog shows more diversity of size, shape and colour than perhaps any other species.
Before Darwin, it was believed that each breed of dog had always existed separately and that no evolution had taken place.
Darwin thought that various breeds of dog were the result of accidental mutations which had been artificially preserved by man.
Today, we know that they are simply the result of generations of selection and careful breeding.
What's happened is that a great variety of characters have been selected and preserved by man, whereas in the wild, animals showing these characters would never have survived.
Very often of course, this peculiarity is associated with the animal being sick or diseased in some way or crippled slightly.
The chance of a predator catching such an individual is greater.
And so the predators tend to pick out slightly unusual animals and take them.
Toy Yorkies! Pedigree stuff only! Once man has taken a few individuals from the wild, and starts breeding them, he of course is protecting them and he can select anything peculiar that crops up.
And ultimately, of course, in the case of the dog, he was able to select the most bizarre kinds of breed, concentrating these curious features that might have cropped up in the wild but would never have survived, more and more into a given breed of dog.
Outsized or Labrador Retriever.
As time went on, some dogs were being bred solely for appearance.
And every time a puppy was chosen for its curly tail or soft coat, it was another step towards the diverse range of dogs that exist today.
From the Shih Tzu to the St Bernard, every modern dog breed has been created by us.
Dog lovers now had the tools to create the dogs they found most appealing.
Which had some interesting consequences.
These dogs have been selectively bred over the centuries to make them more and more baby like.
Their faces have been flattened, their eyes enlarged, their bodies more rounded and their coats softer to the touch.
The result is a perfect child substitute whenever, and for whatever reason, a human infant is absent.
These pets weigh the same as babies and are held like babies.
The interactions with these dogs contain many of the elements of ordinary maternal care.
And the intensity of the loving involved is similar.
And when these owners talk to their dogs, even the high-pitched voice is the same.
Breeding dogs for their appearance may go back as far as ancient China, but it wasn't until the late 19th century that it really took off, as dogs became a stylish status symbol for the new middle classes.
The trend for fashionable dogs was matched by a growing passion for dog shows, the most famous of which was Crufts.
Strict rules were developed about the ideal physical features for each breed on show and the breeders strove to create evermore perfect examples.
Crufts honed in on the popular appeal of the domestic dog and stayed a national obsession for years to come.
Who's it going to be? He's pointing to the black standard poodle.
But by the 1970s, scientists were becoming uneasy about some aspects of the dog show circuit.
There's a sinister side to dog breeder's desire to show off how clever he is at meddling with genetics.
The bulldog is a classic example.
Its crumpled, squashed face took years of selective breeding to achieve.
The intention being to shorten the nose to enable the animal to breathe at the same time as clinging onto its quarry with its teeth.
But the folds on a bulldog's face make it prone to skin disease.
It in fact often does have difficulty breathing.
And sometimes its lower jaw sticks out so far it can't bite properly.
Chihuahuas are classified by breeders as toy dogs.
It's a very apt description of how they treat them.
They've been bred to have disproportionately big heads and eyes to make them look more appealing.
A veterinary expert, Dr Phyllis Croft Regrettably, it's become very fashionable to exaggerate this skull shape and many Chihuahuas have skull bones which have not actually met at the top of the head and this is considered quite a good point from the showing point of view.
Scientists suspected that selecting for appearance and limiting the gene pool to pure-bred dogs could be increasing the risk of genetic abnormalities.
And since that early Horizon aired in the 1970s, the issue has become even more controversial.
The dogs are falling apart and the number of genetic problems are increasing at a frightening pace.
Welcome to Crufts Best in Show 2008! The cause is very simple.
It is competitive dog showing.
That is what has caused the problem.
When I watch Crufts what I see in front of me is a parade of mutants.
It's some freakish, garish beauty pageant that has nothing to do with health and welfare.
The show world is about an obsession about beauty and there's a ridiculous concept that that is how we should judge dogs.
So Best in Breed means you happen to be closest to this thing that's written on a piece of paper as what you should look like.
Takes no account of your temperament, your fitness for purpose potentially as a pet animal.
And that to me just makes absolutely no sense at all.
The Giant Schnauzer best in show for 2008.
Well done.
Scientists were able document the physical changes that had taken place after years of pedigree breeding.
100 years ago, the Daschund looked very different.
Today's dogs have much shorter legs.
The original shape of the Bull Terrier's head was markedly different to today's dog on the right.
And this is how the change looks from the inside And it seems that such physical changes can have severe consequences.
DOG BARKING Many Cavalier King Charles Spaniels now have skulls too small for their brains.
The brain is like a size ten foot that's been shoved into a size six shoe.
It doesn't fit.
And the result can be neurological damage.
The scratching started about 18 months ago.
Really really sad.
Kennel Club officials and dog breeders insisted that the scale of the problems had been exaggerated.
The vast majority of dogs that we register, and we register over 250,000 dogs a year, will live long happy, healthy lives.
But by 2008, the controversy over pedigree dog breeding had become so great that the BBC decided to act.
Crufts will not be shown on the BBC next year, for the first time since 1966, following a dispute over whether to allow certain breeds of pedigree dogs into the competition.
In all the debate around breeding, it's easy to forget the main reason that most people have dogs in their lives at all.
To be faithful companions.
Throughout the ages and in most cultures, dogs stand loyally by our side, offering us comfort, friendship and even the odd party trick.
But why is it that of all the animals humans have domesticated, it's dogs that have become our best friends? She's there with my slippers first thing in the morning.
She's part of the family.
She IS the family.
One reason is that dogs seem to have a remarkable ability to bond with humans.
I can't imagine life without her.
It's why they make such ideal pets.
He's a nice dog and he's gentle with the children.
But for some people, having a dog can be life-changing.
In the 1970s, scientists began to investigate how our natural affinity with dogs could be utilised as a form of therapy.
Today, by far the greatest role the dog is called on to play is as companion and friend.
Often helping to make even the loneliest human existence at least bearable.
In America, some psychologists are now using dogs in what they call pet facilitated psychotherapy.
Let me show you my new fur.
Most of the young adolescents here are chronic schizophrenics.
Normally such patients are withdrawn, anxious and rarely speak.
The remarkable thing about this project is how open and friendly it all looks despite the fact that the normal alternative for these teenagers is to be committed within the confines of a mental institution.
The big difference between Blueberry and a conventional institution is the animals.
Every inmate has a pet dog or cat.
Richard wouldn't talk, withdrew completely into a non-verbal kind of world.
Then he got his dog and he would talk to the dog for hours on end.
Then the person who was assigned to treat him brought her dog and Richard would talk through his dog to her dog and finally she was able to talk to him through his dog.
And then the dogs were dropped, the communication between the dogs was dropped and now they talk to each other.
- You weren't talking to people, do you remember? - Yeah.
- That was before you got Pogo.
- Yeah.
But what happened when you got the dog? Do you remember? I got him.
He was a little shy.
He barked at Bubba.
Got into fights with him.
Oh, that's a big battle.
Is there a battle between you and Bubba too - or just between the dog and Bubba? - Just between the dog and Bubba.
- Oh.
Any idea why? - Jealousy.
It helped him tremendously because now he talks! Now he communicates with a lot of people, not just his therapist.
Still stilted and frightened and whatnot but much more at ease.
This study marked a growing recognition of just how beneficial our relationship with dogs can be.
For both our minds and bodies.
It has been proved that the mere act of simply stroking a dog lessens the heartbeat, reduces anxiety.
Science was finally acknowledging what dog owners everywhere already knew.
Having dogs in our lives brings both practical and emotional benefits.
And scientists began to pinpoint exactly what it is that makes the relationship seem reciprocal.
Dogs have a natural intelligence so can quickly learn what's required of them and adapt their behaviour to fit in with us.
Most people suppose that dogs don't learn very much as young animals but actually they can learn a little bit even at birth.
In this experiment, a young puppy which still couldn't see or hear was tested to find if it could learn a simple task.
Cold air was blown onto its rump.
No puppy likes the cold so after a few whimpers it crawled away to avoid it.
It faced a simple decision to turn left or right.
On previous occasions it had found that the cold air only stopped when it turned left.
With little hesitation it showed it had learnt the way to avoid discomfort.
This experiment showed how quickly a dog could adapt to fit in.
And more recent evidence has revealed the extent to which dogs have used their intelligence to communicate with us.
DOG BARKING Scientists used to assume that barking is a random noise without any specific information or content.
However we had a different idea.
Dogs might tell us something about their emotions, anger, happiness, fear, despair.
So these are basic emotions which I think human might be able to recognise in the barking sound.
To test this idea, Adam and his team acted out a number of scenarios, provoking dogs to bark in different ways.
But when the recordings are played back to people, will they be able to match the bark to the emotion? DOG BARKING That sounds like a dog asking for attention.
He's anxious.
Sad, distressed.
DOG BARKING It wants to be let off a chain or something like that.
DOG BARKING I think that one's playful.
DOG BARKING Excitement.
DOGS BARKING It seems as though they were asking their owner for something.
Sounds like it may want a ball or toy or something to play with.
DOG BARKING This is the sound that she'd make if she saw someone behind the fence, walking along.
DOG BARKING It's a stranger, I think.
It's a stranger encroaching on territory.
DOG BARKING The results of McClosey's research are remarkable.
It's proved there's incredibly strong agreement between people about what different barks mean.
DOG BARKING Overall in the study you could say that people can discriminate six barks and most of them were quite successful in this.
What's more surprising, is not our ability to interpret the barks, but what it reveals about dogs.
In the natural world, dogs' wild relatives don't really bark.
Amazingly, it seems that during the course of domestication, dogs may have evolved their elaborate vocal repertoire especially to communicate with us.
We tamed a wild animal, we invited it into our homes, we bred it to work for us, protect us and become our best friend.
In the process we created dogs that were clever, that were loyal and could even communicate with us.
It sounds like the perfect relationship And yet all too often it's not.
Sometimes our relationship with dogs can become fraught.
But is the problem with them, or with us? 100 years ago most dogs had a job, space to roam about in and a clear role in life.
But since then, the number of working dogs has steadily decreased, while the population of jobless city dogs has exploded.
So it was hardly surprising that we began to see dogs as a problem.
In 1975 Horizon examined the downside of the urban dog boom.
Today after thousands of years of growling co-existence with man, the dog, once our alleged best friend, is on trial.
Few realise that however bouncing with an illusion of health, however loveable and innocent looking, any dog can be infected with not one but over forty diseases all of which can be passed to man by either the dog itself or its droppings.
Few smile when they step in part of the 500 tonnes of faeces excreted every day on Britain by our dogs.
Frame the poop, freeze it, I don't care if you wear it around your neck, but you're going to get it off the streets! This is rabies.
Without vaccination a bite from a rabid dog means certain death.
This dog is dying.
Similar deaths await us if rabies ever gets to Britain.
Already it's on the French border and moving towards us at about 20 miles an year.
Dogs were falling out of favour with society.
And one by-product was a marked increase in dog abuse and neglect.
It makes me feel angry.
There's absolutely no excuse for animals being left or living in conditions like these.
I'd say he's been down there for days.
Do you reckon? He's freezing.
And cos he's not been able to get up and get away, - the rats have been nibbling at him.
- You're joking.
And there was a steady rise in cases of dog abandonment.
We're handling about 300 dogs coming in a week.
Very few are claimed.
Less than a quarter of all the strays and we're having to put down about 150 odd a week.
But the rise of the urban dog had also created another, entirely different, extreme.
Mr Spencer, I gather that Butch is only 18 months old.
- Don't you think this is a bit early for him to start smoking? - Oh, no.
For some people, dogs had become extensions of themselves.
Snowball, Snowball come here.
She loves to lay on the bed and she really is so sweet and nice that I think I spoil her a little.
But she really is a member of the family and as so she's entitled to all the rights and prerogatives as any member would be.
DOG BARKING Amber thinks she's a human.
If I sit in the bath, she'll actually jump in with me.
And for others, the dog had become the ultimate accessory.
They go to a special beautician for a full pampering of the nails, the hair cut, then the it is blow-dried.
Just like us ladies really.
They love to be pampered.
I think people who are fashionable are looking for ways to spend money for their pets, they're trying to pamper their pets.
And while they're wearing beautiful fashions and expensive accessories, it only makes sense that someone of that sort would want quality things for their animals.
Good afternoon Doggy Do salon.
Can I help you? Q-tip, what happened to you?! Q-tip needs some help.
She's a mess.
Oh, my God! - She's dirty, she needs a bath.
- You know what? I know.
I think what we're going to do to Q-tip, we're gonna give her a cute little puppy cut.
And what I would do, basically, I want us to leave her full and fluffy but give her some shaping, there's got no shape to her.
She looks like a little rag mop.
Q-tip, say, "Bye-bye, Mommy.
" Give Mommy a little kiss.
This over-indulgence rarely worked out well for the dogs.
But whether we were killing them with kindness or with cruelty, the result was the same, a huge increase in bad dog behaviour.
DOGS GROWLING Stop! Stop it.
She's wee'd on the car-seat, she's wee'd on the bed, she's wee'd on my mother.
She's very disobedient, she doesn't respond to commands very well.
We got a letter from our landlord, basically saying unless we stopped the dog from barking, they would evict us from the property.
DOG BARKING The less consistent we were in our treatment of dogs, the more problems seemed to arise, in our homes He's chewed that.
I can't get into bed I have to sleep on the sofa.
It is quite embarrassing as Fudge is humping in the corner.
and on the streets.
DOGS BARKING Once they've started I just cannot control them.
It's all my strength to just hold them back.
The behaviour of our dogs seemed impossible to understand.
It's just completely embarrassing.
It's just people staring at you, thinking, "Why have you got a mad dog on a lead?" Home! Dog owners were increasingly searching for new ways of controlling their wayward pooches.
But some experts believed that in order to manage our dogs, we needed to look at the roots of their bad behaviour.
And the key to that lay with our old friend, the wolf.
It seemed that almost every aspect of dogs' bad behaviour could be explained by examining the wolves' social structure.
I think the greatest problem that people have is that they seem to fail to realise that what they're really dealing with is an animal that thinks of itself in terms of a pack.
It thinks of the human family as its pack and it is a member of that pack.
Studies of wolves had shown them to be pack animals, led by a dominant alpha male with a strict pecking order passed down through the pack.
In all kinds of ways, the pack continually explores challenges and reinforces the hierarchy, not by actual fighting, but by posturing and signalling, raising the hackles for instance, to appear more frightening.
The erect tail, a signal of dominance, so too the erect ears.
By contrast, cringing is of paramount importance.
And there are many appeasing postures.
Here the submissive wolf, puts its tail between its legs and lowers its head.
Junior ranking animals have a great need for constant appeasement.
And this wolf, on the back, belly exposed, the posture is one of total submission.
Scientists thought that dogs behaved the same way, forming packs with one dog taking the dominant role of pack leader.
Some of the early experiments put this theory to the test.
To find out how readily dogs accept discipline and respect dominance, the research team tried a simple experiment.
The equipment was a bone.
The subjects, two dogs who hadn't met before.
DOGS BARKING Very quickly, one dog achieved dominance and the underdog wandered off in an attempt to forget its humiliation.
Just to prove that although the two dogs were very equally matched and that one had now become dominant, the bone was given to the underdog.
DOGS BARKING Again, the top dog quickly reasserted himself, leaving the underdog to pretend it didn't really mind.
It indulged in a series of frantic displacement activities.
And top dog wasn't going to let him forget who was dominant.
DOG BARKING The bone was almost forgotten now that the pecking order had been sorted out.
DOGS BARKING Finally the underdog, to avoid further attacks, signalled submission by lying on his back.
Scientists believed that the natural urge for dogs to follow a leader was the key to controlling them.
It seemed that this instinct was so strong, it could even explain how apparently harmless pets could turn lethal.
DOGS BARKING In 1986, they examined the death of an elderly woman who was savagely attacked by this group of domestic dogs.
People couldn't believe that such small dogs were capable of killing.
So they recreated the events that led to the attack and recorded the results on video.
One possibility was that there was a medical cause.
But none of the dogs had brain damage or other significant diseases and they didn't seem to be thin or hungry.
It seemed that more clues to the cause lay in the behavioural dynamics of the pack.
The more dogs there are, the more likely they are to attack and become aggressive.
Certainly a single dog can injure somebody and kill somebody.
But dogs are pack animals and if one starts to do something, they all will do it and they will all get more excited about it.
DOGS BARKING And this is partly a pack-facilitated behaviour.
Dogs, canines, hunt in packs and after they bring down the prey in a pack, they usually eat it.
DOGS BARKING The idea that dogs were pack animals had a radical impact on a growing national obsession, dog training.
The science suggested that to control our dogs, we needed to gain the upper hand.
The reason the dog can be trained so much more easily than the cat, for instance, which is just as intelligent, is because it is a pack animal, it has a leader and the domestic dog has accepted man as the pack leader.
Dog owners had to become top wolf.
And those that didn't, were apparently inviting trouble.
The owners will tell you that they never hit dogs, they never discipline dogs.
In other words, the dog has a completely unnatural situation.
It is expecting to be disciplined.
Now once the dog begins to realise that it's not going to be corrected, it's not going to be disciplined for jumping the dominance order then it will begin to take advantage of that situation.
Dominating your dog became the basis of most training methods, gaining a cult following in the 1980s with Barbara Woodhouse, who had no problem demonstrating who was pack leader in her dog school.
Close, bring her round, jerk if she doesn't come.
Jerk, back.
She's gone.
Now this one needs another go because she pulled.
Come on, Sheba.
Do you hear the click? And then she walked quite nicely.
Do you see? This approach remained the leading theory in dog training for decades.
Some of the exercises we're going to do to start with are what we call rank reducing exercises.
Really you've got to establish who's the boss in this household.
And at the moment, it isn't you.
Although he's a bull terrier and only about 16 weeks old, he still has wolf ideas in his head.
This is a dominance exercise.
Using strict discipline.
No! Leave it! - Pull, pull, pull - Keep going.
and punishing those dogs who tried to dominate their human leaders DOG BARKING No! .
seemed to get results.
Leave it! Oh.
But now, the concept of treating your dog as though it's a pack animal, just a tamer version of the grey wolf, may be overturned altogether.
Dog behaviour expert John Bradshaw has undertaken research which challenges the dominance training method.
There are essentially two reasons why that kind of punishment based training is flawed.
One is that we got the wolf pack structure wrong.
It was thought, big wolves controlled little wolves by aggression and that was the way to control dogs, that you needed to be the big wolf and that the dog has to be the little wolf, otherwise the whole thing doesn't work.
The idea came from studies of wolves in wildlife parks and in zoos.
What the scientists didn't realise at the time was they'd put together a load of wolves that didn't know each other and weren't related to one another, so had no incentive for getting along with one another.
So you had these artificial packs where the biggest, strongest wolves controlled the weaker ones.
Now in the wild, the weaker ones would have left and probably done quite well on their own but in zoos they couldn't leave, the bars were in the way.
We now know that wolf pack structure is not based on aggression.
It's based on family ties, where far from being subordinate, the younger members of the pack stay on as volunteers, they stay on to help their parents raise the next generation of cubs.
So that part of the whole story of dominating your dog has really been swept away.
The second reason why the science behind the dog pack idea is flawed is that when you put dogs on their own, when they're allowed to do their own thing with minimal interference from people, they don't form wolf type packs.
We've done a study on dogs in an animal sanctuary, dogs that are unhomeable but have essentially been allowed to live their lives as dogs, with minimal contact with people.
If they were still thinking like wolves, the hypothesis is that they should have set up a wolf pack, that the biggest and strongest, or maybe just most aggressive dogs should dominate the other ones in the group.
But what we found was something really quite different.
That there wasn't a wolf pack structure at all.
Dogs formed relationships with one or two others in the group that they would tend to hang around with and they were based on play and affection and just basically doing things together.
So you don't get this pack structure, this single pack structure based on aggression.
Sometime in the domestication of the dog, we've changed the way their brains work.
What we think has happened is that family structure has been replaced in the dog's mind with a much greater tendency to bond towards people.
The best method for training dogs is essentially to tap into that natural affection that dogs feel for you.
The average dog is born with a very strong tendency to love people.
You can tap into that simply by rewarding the behaviour you want with attention, with a game, with food if necessary, if that's the kind of dog it is and ignoring the behaviour you don't want.
Reward-based training isn't a new concept.
It came from behavioural psychology studies and has been competing with the dominance theory of dog training for over 20 years.
Just have a little game with him, with it.
A little tugging game.
We don't use choke-chains these days.
We try and do it all with praise and incentive and titbits.
Good boy.
That's it.
Good boy.
Notice the praise coming in straight away.
Big fuss.
Big fuss! Good boy.
Good boy.
Good girl.
And the trainers who use this method boast impressive results.
- Good boy! - Smashing! Go! Fantastic, well done.
Good boy! Sit.
Good girl.
DOGS BARKING I think the situation where reward based training has really showed its worth in a situation where perhaps you might imagine it wouldn't is in the military.
To sniff out guns and bombs and so on.
The reward that's used is a game with the handler once its actually found what it's supposed to find.
Good boy.
Ready? That shows you just how much dogs value our company.
They'll do anything, pretty much, for the reward of playing with a human being.
The military will use a training method that's simply the most effective because human lives depend upon it.
And what they found is that reward based training actually produces a more effective dog, a more effective piece of kit than a dog trained with punishment.
That's why they've adopted it.
It's not for any sentimental reason.
And that's the kind of reward-based training that really impresses me the most.
Good boy! Who's a good lad! Domestication has changed the dog irreversibly and so the whole idea that we need to understand the wolf and it's the only way to understand what dogs are thinking, science says that's wrong.
Science has not only shown us how the dogs' wild heritage has left its mark.
In a word, the dog is all wolf.
But how the impact of human beings on the dog has been perhaps even more profound.
In a world of dwindling resources when so much wildlife is under threat, dogs, by collaborating with us, have become an incredible evolutionary success story.
Come on, girl.
Out you go.
So as obvious as it sounds, it seems like the best thing we can do for dogs, is to treat them like dogs.
Because they're not wolves but then again they aren't miniature people either.
We've played a key role in creating clever, funny, loyal companions with an inbuilt desire for our love and our affection.
It's our job to make sure we give it.
SONG: "Dogs Are Everywhere" by Pulp