Stray dogs have natural ability to understand human gesturesDate: 20 January 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous
Stray dogs have the natural ability to understand human gestures, and respond to some cues better than the others, according to a study.
The study said free-roaming dogs, which have never lived with human companions, are capable of following pointing cues to locate food rewards.
The scientists placed two covered bowls on the ground, one containing chicken, and another with just the scent of the food. Then a second experimenter, who didn’t know which bowl had food, pointed at one of the bowls.
In both dynamic and momentary pointing, the study noted that about 80% of the dogs, which could approach the experimental set-up, were able to follow the cues and get the food reward.
Based on the experiment, the team believe that stray dogs knew where to look when a person points to an object, suggesting that their ability to pick up cues from humans could be a natural trait.
The researchers speculate that stray dogs pick some gestures, and don’t follow some, perhaps due to the typical way in which people in India provide food to free-roaming dogs.
If a bowl they had pointed at turned out to be empty, the researchers said that the adult dogs were less likely to follow the pointing cue again.
The team suggest that the study may provide insights on how humans influence the behaviour of dogs on the streets, and help in better management of dog-human conflicts which commonly occur in India’s urban areas.
The findings also solve important pieces of the puzzle of what made dogs special for human domestication thousands of years ago.