Dogs give humans clues to morals

Boffins studying wild dogs think that they give a better indication of humanity than looking at monkeys.

According to the writer of the book Wild Justice,  Marc Bekoff,  dogs, wolves and coyotes exhibit behaviour that hints at the roots of human morality.

He said that morality is a system of  interrelated other-regarding behaviours that cultivate and regulate social interactions. 

Bekoff lists altruism, tolerance, forgiveness, reciprocity and fairness as examples of moral codes of conduct and claims that these can be seen in the egalitarian way wolves and coyotes play with one another. 

Dogs follow a strict rules when they muck about and they teach pups the rules of social engagement that allow their societies to succeed. 

The training includes  biting, copulation and body slamming.  However, after years of watching videos of wild dogs playing, Bekoff found that there were rules to prevent play from escalating into fighting.

Play builds trusting relationships among pack members, which enables divisions of labour, dominance hierarchies and cooperation in hunting, raising young, and defending food and territory. 

This is exactly like early human societies that allowed our ancestral societies to grow and flourish.