Study: Dogs Pick Up On Communication Cues
January 10, 2012 by UPI - United Press International, Inc.
CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Jan. 6 (UPI) — Dogs pick up not only on words people say but also on the intent to communicate with them, a report published in a U.S. scientific journal says.
Dogs’ receptivity to human communication is surprisingly similar to the receptivity of very young children, the article in Current Biology said.
The research might explain why so many people treat their canine friends like their children, researchers said.
“Increasing evidence supports the notion that humans and dogs share some social skills, with dogs’ social-cognitive functioning resembling that of a 6-month to 2-year-old child in many respects,” researcher Jozsef Topal of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences said. “The utilization of ostensive cues is one of these features: dogs, as well as human infants, are sensitive to cues that signal communicative intent.”
The researchers presented dogs with video recordings of a person turning toward one of two identical plastic pots while an eye tracker captured information on the dogs’ reactions.
In one video, the person first looked straight at the dog, addressing it in a high-pitched voice with “Hi dog!” then looking at the pot. In the second video, the person gave only a low-pitched “Hi dog” while avoiding eye contact before looking at the pot.
The dogs were more likely to follow along and look at the pot when the person first expressed an intention to communicate, the researchers said.
“Our findings reveal that dogs are receptive to human communication in a manner that was previously attributed only to human infants,” Topal said.