Saturday, October 23, 2021

Are puppies born to talk to human beings?

If you think your puppy understands when you are telling him to have food or drop that sock, you might be correct about it, a scientist has confirmed.

Emily Bray, a post-doctoral research associate at the Arizona Canine Cognition Center at the University of Arizona's School of Anthropology has confirmed that puppies are born with the skills to understand and communicate with human beings.

"Puppies will look at and return a person's social gaze and successfully use the information given by that person in a social context from a very young age, all prior to any extensive experience with people," Bray said.

Bray and her team observed 375 puppies that were eight weeks old and were tested for a battery of social-cognitive measures that had been taught to adult dogs, but not to puppies.

"We know that adult dogs are good at these tasks," Bray explained. "When does that start? Does it take years of observing humans and living with humans, or is that ability something they are more biologically prepared for that has evolved over the course of domestication?"

These puppies (who were a group of golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers and lab-golden mix) were all staying with their mother and were not yet introduced to training.

The puppies were subjected to two tasks. The first was making eye contact with the researchers and the second was to follow the researcher’s hands and eyes that were gesturing towards a treat, which were hidden under cups.

Puppies able to successfully follow the cues and found the treats on their own, hinting that they do not need training for these activities and can easily communicate with humans.

"They're not perfect, but it's definitely better than chance. There's something that they're picking up on, even at 8 weeks old," she said.

One main thing that the researchers had to follow was to adopt the “baby talk” in which they had to talk in a high-pitched voice to get the puppy’s attention.



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