When dogs learn new tricks, they do not simply copy what they see, but interpret it, suggests a new study, which provides evidence that man’s best friend possesses a human-like ability to understand the goals and intentions of others.
In the experiment, a well-trained Border collie bitch demonstrated to untrained dogs how to pull a lever for food using her paw. If she did this while carrying a toy ball between her teeth, the dogs in her audience would instead tug the lever with their mouths when their turn arrived. These animals appeared to be thinking that she used her paw only because her mouth held a ball, say researchers.
Darwin would be so pleased (I say that because I am in the process of reading The expression of the emotions in man and animals.)
The results of the research are being published in Current Biology.
Filed under: Biology