Whether you think so or not, your dog's ancestors were wild. Probably one of the first wild animals to be totally tamed, all dogs share a common ancestor in the small South Asian Wolf. In fact, your very-domesticated dog probably still shares some characteristics of wild dogs (marking their territory, defending what's theirs, and burying their prized possessions). That being said, though, could domestic dogs survive in the wild? It's possible, but it's also a little complicated! We've got all the details you need to know here!
Signs Your Dog Could Live in the Wild
For example, if your pup is able to detect small bugs, rodents, or other teeny animals pretty well, it's likely that your pup is good at detecting and hunting down food, a sign of their ancestors. Their incredible sense of smell is another tell-tale sign that doggos could live in the wild, as well as their amazing sense of hearing.
If your dog is territorial - or has a habit of marking trees, rocks, fence posts, and other sites - this is another huge indicator that they'd be good at surviving in the wild. Territory is huge in the wild, and if your dog knows how to mark his or her territory, they might be on the right path for wildlife living.
Additionally, if your dog has a habit of burying bones, toys, or other prizes for future use, that's also a good indicator that they're equipped for the wild (like their ancestors).
- Raise ears
- Back hair on edge
- Tail up
- Burying bones or other toys
- Defending territory or being aggressive when threatened
- Marking territory
- Pack mentality
The History of Dogs Living in the Wild
Even so, all dogs, despite their various shapes, sizes, temperaments, and breeds, are from the same species, Canis familarias. That means that dogs are related to wolves, foxes, and jackals, all of which are animals that survived, and continue to survive, in the wild and undomesticated.
The Science Behind Dogs Living in the Wild
It's also possible that dogs aided in their own domestication by scavenging off of human's spoils (aka, hunting carcasses left behind) or loitering around campfires - each time growing tamer and tamer with every passing generation. Genetically, dogs have been so cross-bred that their genes are homogeneous, states the Atlantic, according to the University of Oxford.
Training Your Dog to Survive in the Wild
For example, if you were hypothetically going to train your dog to live in the wild, the human commands you've taught them (i.e., sit, stay, lay down) would be no use to them. Instead, you'd need to train your pup to eat certain plants, bugs, and hunt down small game like rabbits, mice, and squirrels. You can do this by learning how to train your dog to help you hunt.
Spending time outside with your dog to get them accustomed and comfortable with nature would be beneficial as well. This should help them get accustomed to the sounds, movements, and smells of the wild, and maybe even kick-start some of their survival mode.
How to React if Your Domestic Dog Escapes to the Wild:
Prevent this by walking your dog on a leash or keeping them in fenced-in areas.
try to locate your dog as quickly as possible.
In the event your dog gets out, ensure that you've trained them properly to hunt down small game in case they need to feed themselves to ensure survival
Try to kick-start your dog's instincts by spending time with them outside.