When did dogs become companions for humans? You’ll have to go WAY back for an answer

By on November 4, 2016

When did we start treating our pampered pups the way we do? That’s hard to pin down. What evidence can help suggest though, is that wild dogs were first tamed by humans 15,000 years ago. Wow.

Think about that for a moment. A generation, by a common sociological measure, is about twenty-five years. Four generations is 100 years. Forty generations is a thousand years. That makes 15,000 years about 600 generations ago.

In recent history, we’ve allowed our dogs inside. We feed them special diets. They’ve, for all intents and purposes, just recently been considered members of the family. There was no moment in time when we declared dogs “tame”; rather, it’s been a very long process covering hundreds of generations of people and all types of dogs. In a recent Time Magazine article, researchers detail this long-term multi-generational change and it’s quite fascinating.

Not much is agreed upon by folks researching this stuff, but one thing is commonly accepted: In places like Europe and Asia, going back those thousands of years, people “tamed” and domesticated wolves, the ancestors of our companion animals. And as our dogs now depend on us for everything, those initial wolves depended on humans too. “External factors may have forced wild and often aggressive wolves to forge a working relationship with humans for survival,” says the Time article.

Further research shows that humans started burying dogs about 8,000 years ago, suggesting they were more than wild animals. Speculative researchers also contend that these burials coincided with the changes in relationships we had with canines. In rough estimates, we can guess that dogs became companions sometime between 13,000 BCE and 4,000 BCE.

“We have a long-term relationship with dogs,” one researcher says. “They’re our oldest friends, if not our best friends.”

The Atlantic, another widely-read magazine full of research-based articles like the one cited above, recently published a short video about the origin of dogs. It’s an interesting watch and you can find it here.

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