The History of Dog Training and Domestication

Dog domestication and breeding has come a long way since humans tamed wolves. When contemplating the competitive, modern training techniques that are studied every year, we thought it would be interesting to take a look back through the history of our four-legged companions. In this article, we’re exploring the story of dog domestication and training.

How Did Humans Domesticate Wolves?

Longer ago than many of us could imagine, humans found an unlikely ally in the predatory wolf. The wolves changed in temperament and physicality as their teeth, skulls and paws became smaller. They became docile and less afraid of humans, learning to read complex cues and expressions from their human companions.

There have been studies that say human hunter-gatherers actively domesticated and bred wolves while other reports suggest wolves tamed themselves by loitering and scavenging around human campfires. In both of these accounts, it’s clear that wolves became tamer with every generation until they became similar to what we know now.

Although contradictory fossils have established that we have no exact date or location for the origin of dogs, it is clear that dogs have mated with each other, cross-bred, migrated and been deliberately tweaked by humans over thousands of years.

The History of Dog Training and Obedience

It’s impossible to track the complete history of dog training because much of it has gone unrecorded. The first sign we have of obedience that is similar to what we know today is in the 1700s when truffle hunters would feed their dogs bread when they locate truffles. The closest, recorded event we have after that was in 1885 when a magazine writer wrote a book called Practical Training which suggested dogs should be positively rewarded with meat for good behaviour.

In 1899, Belgium created the first canine school for police dogs using Belgian Shepherds as their choice breed. After that, in 1915, Edwin Richardson trained dogs for the military during WWI by using positive reinforcement and the dogs proved to be highly intelligent and malleable.

In 1930, approximately 400 dogs were employed as actors in Hollywood. The dogs used for this were small, rugged and extremely smart mongrel terriers. Interestingly, the US military managed to train 19,000 dogs before WWII whereas the German army had a reported number of 200,000 service dogs.

Until about 20 years ago, a lot of trainers unfortunately reverted to aggressive tactics for obedience where they believed the dogs needed to be “broken”. As overwhelming research has shown, dogs always react better to positive operative training methods.

The Dogs We Have Today

In this day and age, we have dogs working in numerous occupations around the world. Humans have learnt to train their canines at home, too, and our relationship with these amazing animals continues to grow and change.

When it comes to training your prized pup, speak to the experts at the National Dog Trainers Federation. The NDTF can help you undergo a certified dog obedience course or find the perfect trainer for your needs. Get in touch with us by calling 1300 66 44 66 or simply contact us online.