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Current Affairs

Stray dogs have natural ability to understand human gestures

Date: 20 January 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Stray dogs have the natural ability to understand human gestures, and respond to some cues better than the others, according to a study.

 

Background

 The study said free-roaming dogs, which have never lived with human companions, are capable of following pointing cues to locate food rewards.

 

Details

  • 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.