Just further evidence that your smart dog is destined to be Man’s Best Friend from the get-go!
Although I may be partial because of my obsession with Must Love Dogs, I really believe that dog ownership has nothing but beneficial effects. There is mounting evidence that having a dog improves our well-being and pleasure in both the short and long term. They’ve kept us sane during the epidemic, and they can even relate to the kids. The cognitive abilities of elderly people with mental illnesses who participate in pet therapy have also been proven to improve. Lots of good reasons to give a paw!
Did you know, though, that canines seem socially equipped to connect with humans from birth? So much of what our canine friends can accomplish for us is well-documented, but what exactly is going on in their minds? A research published on June 3 in the journal Current Biology found that at 8 weeks of life, dogs display social abilities and an interest in human faces.
“Puppies will look at and return a person’s social gaze and successfully use information given by that person in a social context from a very young age,” Emily Bray, a post-doctoral research associate at the Arizona Canine Cognition Center at the University of Arizona’s School of Anthropology, told CNN.
At the age of eight weeks, Bray and her colleagues examined 375 golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, and golden retrievers mixed with other breeds. She tested their social cognition with activities like making eye contact and recognizing hand signals. In one section of the research, canines were asked to locate a concealed reward by following the reacher’s hand gestures. Making eye contact between the dog and the researcher was also an element of the study. Bray claims that mature dogs are naturally adept at these tasks, but adds that scientists have been trying to pin down exactly when this talent first manifests.
When asked which cup they preferred, “most of the puppies chose the right cup 70% of the time,” Bray said. On sometimes, they’d choose the right cup on the first try. The results seem to show that pups may learn to follow human signals even before they have been heavily socialized with adults.
Not surprisingly, since the research followed the same canines as they matured, the puppies grew better at the activities that were originally designed for adults, such as “impulse control and social cues.” In contrast, Bray tells CNN that the new study will “give more clues on the traits of a dog that eventually goes on to become a successful working dog.” The result would streamline the procedure of picking and training service and guide dogs, for instance.
Research into which canine genes contribute to specific qualities will need to continue, but Bray seems up to the challenge.
“There’s lots of work to be done with puppies,” she joked to CNN. Somebody needs to say, “It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.”