Click here to learn more.
A new study has revealed what pet owners have always suspected: Dogs understand us better than other animals.
Researchers in Leipzig, Germany, compared how chimpanzees — our closest living animal relative — and dogs responded to human imperative pointing. The person pointed to an object within the dog or chimp’s reach, and the animal was rewarded if he brought the object to the human. Dogs received dry dog food, and chimps got fruit juice or peanuts, according to Discovery News.
The dogs aced the test, while the chimps failed it. The primates’ failure to respond to the pointing has puzzled some researchers who expected the chimps to understand this human gesture, for obvious reasons.
Other researchers theorized that imperative pointing was a uniquely human form of communication and thus one that would not be easily understood by animals, but this doesn't seem to be the case. The study strongly suggests that domesticated dogs, especially gun dogs and sheep dogs, have adapted enough to comprehend it. It’s possible, however, that dogs may be born with this gift, since even six-week-old puppies with no significant training understood the pointing. Prior research also suggests that some domesticated cats understand this human gesture.
“There is multiple evidence suggesting that selection pressures during domestication have changed dogs such that they are perfectly adapted to their new niche, the human environment,” coauthor Juliane Kaminski, a cognitive psychologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, told Discovery News. Which may mean that, at least in this case, domesticated dogs are closer to humans than chimpanzees. Or at least dogs are the ones who really understand us.
To read more about the study, check out the Discovery News article or read the full study in PloS One.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Thank You For Signing Up
for the Petwire newsletter, sending you all the pet news each week directly to your inbox.
Get the latest pet news, tips, tricks, and expert advice sent right to your inbox!
Researchers found that dogs became
aggressive and pushy when their owners
showed interest in a plush toy dog.
Our editors' favorite books this summer
include Misty of Chincoteague and the
buzzed-about new novel The Bees.
Is it true that black pets are less likely to
be adopted? We asked the ASPCA to
help us get to the bottom of this…
Want to have a fun and relaxing vacation
this summer? Make sure you follow the
advice from these travel-savvy canines.
Dr. Ann Hohenhaus breaks down the
similarities and differences in the ways
cancer can affect humans and animals.
The Kooikerhondje is a fun-loving and
intelligent red and white Dutch retriever
who was bred to lure ducks into a…
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.