A recent study has found that dogs are more like us than we give them credit for. Apparently, dogs can perform a bunch of human functions that we never knew.
Dogs can read facial expressions, communicate jealousy, display empathy, and even watch TV, studies have shown. They’ve picked up these people-like traits during their evolution from wolves to domesticated pets, which occurred between 11,000 and 16,000 years ago, experts say.
In particular, “paying attention to us, getting along with us, [and] tolerating us” has led to particular characteristics that often mirror ours, says Laurie Santos, director of the Yale Comparative Cognition Laboratory.
1. They observe : Apparently, dog owners shun people who are mean to their owners.
In a new study, scientists tested 54 dogs that each watched their owners struggle to retrieve a roll of tape from a container. The dogs were divided into three groups: helper, non-helper, and control.
In the helper group, the owner requested help from another person, who held the container. In the non-helper group, the owner asked for help from a person, who then turned their back without helping. In the control group, the additional person turned his or her back without being asked for help.
In all experiments, a third, “neutral” person sat in the room.After the first round of experiments, the neutral person and the helper or non-helper both offered treats to the dog.
In the non-helper group, canines most frequently favored the neutral person’s treat, shunning the non-helper. However, in the helper group, the dogs did not favor either the helper or the neutral person over the other.
2. Gaze Following: Dogs were previously thought to follow human gazes only when food or toys were involved. Now, a new study suggests dogs also follow human gazes into blank space—but only if they’re untrained.
In recent experiments, 145 pet border collies with a range of training levels and ages, were recruited.
The researchers observed the dog’s reactions as they gazed toward a door. Surprisingly, only the untrained border collies followed their gaze—the trained animals ignored it. That may be because trained dogs learn to focus on a person’s face, and not where the person is looking.