Eyes of a Friend

Life with companion animals

Dogs Get Gestures as Well as Toddlers

on July 30, 2009

Dogs Get Gestures as Well as Toddlers
by Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News

July 13, 2009 — Dogs possess a two-year-old child’s capacity to understand human pointing gestures, with dogs requiring next to zero learning time to figure out the visual communication, according to two recent studies.

The comparison with kids doesn’t end there. Due to domestication, dogs appear to be predisposed to read other human visual signals, including head-turning and gazing.

Pet owners often use baby talk, scientifically known as “motherese,” with both children and dogs, allowing canines and kids to receive similar social stimulation.

Since chimpanzees and other non-human primates often flunk pointing gesture tests, the studies suggest dogs may understand humans better than even our closest living animal relatives do.

“The human pointing gesture is cooperative in its nature,” Gabriella Lakatos told Discovery News. Lakatos, a researcher in the Department of Ethology at Eotvos University, led the first study, published in the current issue of Animal Cognition.

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