By Sean Zucker –
Feel like nobody gets you like your dog? Almost as if they know how you’re feeling by just looking at you. Turns out there may be a reason for that. According to a new study, puppies are biologically wired to communicate with humans at birth.
The breaking research out of the University of Arizona suggests that dogs’ long renowned social skills may appear shortly after they’re born. The study came to this conclusion after looking at 375 eight-and-a-half-week-old retriever puppies and discovered they processed many humanlike connection qualities. Similar to a newborn baby, puppies inherit communication intelligence from their biological parents. Simply put, puppies are born knowing how to communicate with humans.
The researchers even looked to genetics to help explain why some dogs perform better than others on social tasks such as following pointing gestures.
“There was evidence that these sorts of social skills were present in adulthood, but here we find evidence that puppies–sort of like humans–are biologically prepared to interact in these social ways,” said lead study author Emily Bray, a postdoctoral research associate at the Arizona Canine Cognition Center.
The study found that a percentage of puppies were even able to find hidden food by only following a researcher’s finger or gaze, without having to be taught to do it. These puppies were genetically related to other puppies who had the same trait.
“This led us to conclude that puppies are biologically prepared for these sorts of skills, as they show up early in development, prior to extensive one-on-one socialization with humans, and have a biological basis,” Bray added.
This is a trait that seemingly only grows as they age.
According to Bray, not only are puppies inherently communicative with humans, but their communication skills only continue to grow as they age. She claims that highly attentive puppies generally grew into highly attentive adults and vice versa.
Arizona’s findings offer benefits that go beyond simply building understanding about the relationship between people and their pups. It may substantially assist the development of animal assistant programs. “I do think this study has the potential to impact how breeding dogs are selected, especially within service dog organizations,” says Bray.
The researchers add that the animals who were naturally good at communicating with humans were more likely to become domesticated. But not all breeds are created equal, according to these researchers. While all puppies follow social cues, such as pointing, they stress that some breeds appear to be more responsive and aware than others.
“I think there are different types of intelligences, and it definitely seems possible that certain breeds, based on the function they were bred to perform, could vary in their tendency to express different cognitive capacities,” Bray concluded.
Hmmm, maybe Frank from Men In Black was not an alien after all.