FunCan dogs read the mind?

Can dogs read the mind?

Can thedogs read our minds? How do they learn to ask for food or decide to misbehave when we are not looking at them? According to Monique Udell and her team at the University of Florida, the way dogs respond to the level of attention people give them tells us something about the way they think and learn about human behavior.

Recent research has identified a wide range of human-like social behaviors in the domestic dog, including its ability to respond to the body language of the people around it, verbal commands, and states of attention. But how do they do it? Do they observe our behavior in different circumstances and then respond accordingly? Or do they learn from experience, responding to what is happening around them?

To find out, Udell and his colleagues launched twoexperiments to compare how domestic dogs, sheepdogs and wolves actgiving them the opportunity to ask for food, either from an attentive person or a person the animal cannot see. Thus they found for the first time that wolves are capable of claiming food by approaching attentive humans. This shows that both species – domestic and non-domestic – have the ability tobehave in accordance with the state of attention of a human being. Additionally, both wolves and dogs were able to rapidly improve their performance with practice.

Furthermore, they concluded thatdogs that live in a domestic environment are more sensitive to predictable stimuli in attentive humansthan those dedicated to herding. Canine behavior, they conclude, “is due to the willingness of animals to accept humans as social partners, combined with an ability to follow people’s movements and actions to receive confirmation.”

 

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