Are you a cat person? Do you like dogs more? Some would say that dogs are needy. Yes, we all know that cats are independent buddies. But, dogs are more caring and sensitive.
They can “smell” fear and they really know when you are sad or scared. Do you know that a dog can make a difference between a happy and an angry face.
Study confirms that!
A study released in the journal Animal Cognition showed that dogs understand when you point at something. The best part?
Dogs can figure out if the gestures are misleading. Akiko Takaoka of Kyoto University in Japan led the study which included 34 dogs and three rounds of pointing.
Experts wanted to know if pups “automatically” follow their owners’ pointing gestures. Dogs were tested in two different experiments. The experiments included food and two containers.
- Phase 1 – Experts point at the container filled with food.
- Phase 2 – Experts show the content of both containers, and then point at the empty container.
- Phase 3 – Same as Phase 1.
The results showed that most of the dogs followed the pointing in Phase 1.
Most dogs ignored the pointing in Phase 3.
In the next stage, pets followed a new experimenter who did Phase 1 again. Their motivation was still present.
“These results suggest that not only dogs are highly skilled at understanding human pointing gestures, but also, they make inferences about the reliability of a human who presents cues and consequently modify their behavior flexibly depending on the inference.”
Takaoka found that pups “devalued the reliability of a human” real quick. This was a rather surprising finding.
“Dogs have more sophisticated social intelligence than we thought. This social intelligence evolved selectively in their long-life history with humans.”
John Bradshaw, an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Bristol’s vet school, explained that this experiment shows that pups prefer predictability.
“Dogs whose owners are inconsistent with them often have behavioral disorders. If they consistently don’t know what’s going to happen next, they can get stressed, aggressive, or fearful.”
What does he say about the second step of the experiment? “Dogs are almost information junkies,” he said. They like new things, and new stuff fascinates them.
Bradshaw also noted that dogs are more intelligent than we can ever imagine. However, their intelligence is much different than ours.
Dogs are “very sensitive to human behavior but they have fewer preconceptions,” adding that “ they don’t reflect back on the past in an abstract way, or plan for the future” and live in the present.
An experiment released in the Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews showed that dogs can understand the communication between owners and other people.
Dog owners act out a scenario in which they ask others for help while their dogs are watching. Dogs can understand social rules and they know if the stranger is rude.
The pups avoided rude strangers even when they have treats in their hands.