Anyone who has ever interacted with a dog knows that these animals often have an uncanny ability to relate to people. After thousands of years of coexistence between the dog and the human being, as well as an active human preference towards the dogs that best interact with us, the selective effect on the dog’s genetics seems to have left its mark on it; but to what extent? Recent research has explored this question.
The team of Emily E. Bray, from the University of Arizona in the American city of Tucson, has discovered that the ability of dogs to interact with humans is present in our four-legged friends from a very young age and does not require much, or none, previous experience or training.
However, depending on their genetics, some puppies are more advanced than others in this aspect of their behavior.
In behavioral experiments carried out by Bray’s team on dog puppies, it was found that puppies correspond to the human social gaze and successfully use information given by a human in a social context from a very early age and before they are born. extensive experience with humans. For example, even before puppies have left their littermates to live individually with their human breeders, most of them are able to find hidden food thanks to understanding the message a human gives them by pointing the finger of a hand towards the place of interest.
This puppy dog knows perfectly well that the purpose of the extended human arm with the finger pointing towards the blue cube is to draw his attention to this object and not to the finger itself, as another human being understands. (Photo: Emily Bray)
The new research also indicates that more than 40% of the variation in a puppy’s ability to follow the direction a human’s finger is pointing is explained by the genes they have inherited.
“These are quite high figures, very similar to estimates of the heritability of intelligence in our own species,” says Bray. “All of these findings suggest that dogs are biologically ready for human communication.”
The study is titled “Early-emerging and highly heritable sensitivity to human communication in dogs”. And it has been published in the academic journal Current Biology. (Source: NCYT from Amazings)