Yes, dogs are smarter than babies, but are they smarter than presidential candidates?
Most of us dog owners already know that our dog is as at least as smart, when it comes to both verbal and non-verbal cues, as a six-month old human infant.
Now, another study has confirmed that — this one from Hungary.
It’s one of those stories that keeps resurfacing and pretending to be breaking news – like Mitt Romney transporting his dog by putting him (in a crate) on the roof of his car.
Because humans don’t remember as well as dogs, and because we’re conditioned to thinking something labeled “news” is going to be new, we accept it as that. But that’s probably another study.
In this one, the Hungarian researchers, according to findings published in the Cell Press journal Current Biology, concluded that dogs pick up on the words we say and on our intent to communicate with them — and that their receptivity to human communication is similar to that of very young children.
“Increasing evidence supports the notion that humans and dogs share some social skills, with dogs’ social-cognitive functioning resembling that of a 6-month to 2-year-old child in many respects,” said József Topál, Ph.D., of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
“The utilization of ostensive cues is one of these features: dogs, as well as human infants, are sensitive to cues that signal communicative intent,” he said. Those include verbal addressing and eye contact, he explained.
Folks, except for some of those big words, did we not already know that? Just as surely as we know it’s stupid to put your Irish setter, or any other dog, atop your car and take him on a trip?
Topál’s team presented dogs with video recordings of a person turning toward one of two identical plastic pots while an “eye tracker” captured information on the dogs’ reactions. It was the first study to use eye-tracking techniques to study dogs’ social skills
One of the videos showed a person who first looked straight at the dog, addressing it in a high-pitched voice with “Hi dog!” A second showed the person uttering a low-pitched “Hi dog” while avoiding eye contact.
Researchers discovered dogs were more likely to follow along and look at the pot when the person first expressed an intention to communicate: “Our findings reveal that dogs are receptive to human communication in a manner that was previously attributed only to human infants,” Topál said.
Topal is convinced that the receptivity is something that has evolved in the species in the time since its domestication: “Dogs have evolved to sharing their lives with humans. And they gained new skills that support their social interaction with humans.”
We’d agree with that theory, but we still think some of these studies are stating the obvious — and that it’s time to move forward and research whether dogs are not just smarter than babies, but maybe smarter than the average presidential candidate.
Let’s track their eyes and see what happens.
(Top photo: Punjapit)
Posted by jwoestendiek January 10th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, behavior, candidates, car, car roof, communication, cues, current biology, dog, dogs, evolution, eye tracking, eyes, hungary, intelligence, mitt romney, news, non-verbal, pets, politics, presidential, receptivity, research, roof, science, seamus, study, top, tracking, verbal