Over at UD Denyse O’Leary is all twitterpated over this news story. The news item concerns a paper accepted for publication in the journal Advances in the Study of Behavior. The paper hasn’t been published yet, so we are dependent on MSNBC for details:
Lead author Jozsef Topal explained to Discovery News “that shared environment has led to the emergence of functionally shared behavioral features in dogs and humans and, in some cases, functionally analogous underlying cognitive skills.”
“In my view, pet dogs can be regarded in many respects as ‘preverbal infants in canine’s clothing,’” he said, adding that many dog-owner relationships mirror human parental bonds with children.
In one of many recent studies conducted by the team, Topal and his colleagues taught both a 16-month-old human child and mature dogs to repeat multiple demonstrated actions on verbal command — “Do it!,” shouted in Hungarian.
The idea that dogs might serve as models of human behavior is not a new idea. Dogs, like humans are highly social animals that evolved from other highly social animals. For example, one line of research looks at the ability of dogs and wolves to perceive and act on cues provided by humans (turns out wolves don’t pay that much attention to cues provided by humans).
Of course, other animal models have been suggested: