That the dog is man’s best friend is not new to anyone. The relationship between humans and dogs is an old one. However, the story of how this encounter happened has been lost in time. Therefore, it is not known for exactly how long this relationship has existed.
Anyone who has a puppy at home knows what it’s like to always have unconditional love and support. Animals appear at the top of people’s list of greatest companions for never abandoning their owners.
And anyone who loves dogs and has one knows how to relate to these animals. This connection between owner and pet is quite strong. And according to new research, puppies are born ready to interact with people. The study showed that up to 40% of a young dog’s ability to communicate with humans is genetic, without requiring any training or bonding with the person to happen beforehand.
That is, that affection and friendliness of puppies is an innate thing of them, even if some show more than others. The researchers behind this finding said this finding could help improve service dog training in the future.
The survey was carried out with 375 puppies, with an average age of 8.5 months. Scholars put the animals to perform a series of standardized tasks designed to measure their responsiveness to human interaction and their willingness to cooperate.
“These are pretty high numbers, very similar to estimates of the heritability of intelligence in our own species. All of these findings suggest that dogs are biologically prepared to communicate with humans,” said animal psychologist Emily Bray of the University of Arizona, Tucson.
The psychologist and her team spent a decade working with dogs at the Canine Companions organization in the United States. This gave them access to several puppies and their breeding histories and pedigree record.
From observational data collected between 2017 and 2020, the researchers built a statistical model that compared genetic factors with environmental factors in the animals tested. At the same time, he controlled race, sex, age and place of creation.
Puppies responded best when a trainer looked at or pointed to a container that had hidden food. But dogs followed orders even when the look or gesture was perceived as a social cue.
In another test done, puppies were eager to look at the trainer while the person was talking and to fetch the pet.
“We’ve shown that puppies reciprocate the human social gaze and successfully use information provided by a human in a social context from a very young age and before extensive experience with humans. For example, even before the puppies leave their littermates to live one by one with their volunteer breeders, most of them manage to find hidden food by following a human point to the indicated location”, highlighted Bray.
- “From an early age, dogs exhibit human-like social skills, which have a strong genetic component, which means that these skills have strong potential for selection. Our findings may therefore point to an important part of the history of domestication, where animals with a penchant for communicating with our own species may have been selected from the wolf populations that gave rise to dogs,” concluded the psychologist.