Puppies are ready to communicate with humans from birth, study shows

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They may be known as man’s best friend, but it seems that dogs have a slight advantage when it comes to bonding with people.

A new study has found that puppies are born with ‘human-like’ social skills that allow them to interact with people from a young age, rather than learn it later in life.

Even before puppies leave the nest, they can listen to people by following cues, such as pointing gestures, researchers found, but it takes a little longer for them to be able to communicate back.

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'Human': A new study found that puppies are wired from birth to interact with people, rather than learn social skills later in life.  One of the tasks the dogs performed is pictured

‘Human’: A new study found that puppies are wired from birth to interact with people, rather than learn social skills later in life. One of the tasks the dogs performed is pictured

Born to do it: Researchers also found that genetics may help explain why some dogs perform better than others on social tasks, such as following pointing gestures

Born to do it: Researchers also found that genetics may help explain why some dogs perform better than others on social tasks, such as following pointing gestures

What does it mean?  The hope is to better understand how dogs think and solve problems

What does it mean? The hope is to better understand how dogs think and solve problems

HOW DO WE KNOW THAT PUPPIES ARE BORN WITH SOCIAL SKILLS?

Researchers studied 375 eight-week-old puppies with little prior one-on-one interaction with humans.

The dogs were given a series of tasks to measure their social communication skills.

In one of the tests, the puppies were able to find a treat hidden under one of the two overturned cups when a researcher pointed to it.

They were also able to do this even if the scent was masked which was done to make sure the puppies weren’t just following their noses.

All dogs were successful in at least one task, demonstrating that they are skilled from the start when it comes to social communication based on gestures and eye contact.

In control tests, when untargeted, puppies did not look to humans for answers when food was locked in a container.

“There was evidence that these kinds of social skills were present in adulthood, but here we find evidence that puppies — a bit like humans — are biologically primed to interact in these social ways,” said lead study author Dr. Emily Bray from college. from Arizona.

Genetics explained more than 40 percent of the variation in puppies’ ability to follow human pointing gestures, as well as the variation in how long they had eye contact with people during a task designed to measure their interest in people.

dr. Bray and her team watched 375 eight-week-old puppies, who previously had little one-on-one interaction with people, performed a series of tasks designed to measure their social communication skills.

They include 98 Labrador retrievers, 23 golden retrievers and 254 Labrador golden crosses from 117 different litters.

They all had extremely similar parenting histories and a known pedigree going back several generations.

In one of the tests, the puppies were able to find a treat hidden under one of the two overturned cups when a researcher pointed to it.

They were also able to do this even if the scent was masked which was done to make sure the puppies weren’t just following their noses.

In another task, researchers started the interaction by talking to the puppies in a high-pitched voice in “dog-directed speech.” Then they measured how long the puppy looked at the human.

All dogs were successful in at least one task, demonstrating that they are proficient from the outset when it comes to social communication based on gestures and eye contact.

In control tests, when untargeted, puppies did not look to humans for answers when food was locked in a Tupperware container.

That suggests that while puppies can be born and know how to respond to human-initiated communication, the ability to initiate communication on their own may come later, researchers said.

dr.  Emily Bray (pictured) watched 375 eight-week-old puppies perform a series of tasks with little prior one-on-one interaction with humans

The tasks are designed to measure the puppies' social communication skills

Study: Dr. Emily Bray (pictured left) and her team watched 375 eight-week-old puppies, who in the past had little one-on-one interaction with humans, performed a series of tasks

Clever: The puppies could find a treat under a cup that a human pointed to, and were able to do so even if the smell was masked

Clever: The puppies could find a treat under a cup that a human pointed to, and were able to do so even if the smell was masked

Success: All dogs were successful in at least one task, demonstrating that they are proficient in social communication based on gestures and eye contact from the get-go

Success: All dogs were successful in at least one task, demonstrating that they are proficient in social communication based on gestures and eye contact from the get-go

In control tests, when not targeted, puppies did not look to humans for answers when food was locked in a Tupperware container

More to learn: The study found that puppies can be born and know how to respond to human-initiated communication, the ability to initiate communication on their own may come later

More to learn: The study found that puppies can be born and know how to respond to human-initiated communication, the ability to initiate communication on their own may come later

Previous studies have found that dogs’ brains process language in the same way that humans do, with the right side dealing with emotion and the left side dealing with meaning.

It wasn’t until both hemispheres agreed to hear praise that the dog was truly happy.

dr. Bray said: ‘We show that puppies will respond to the human social gaze and will successfully use a human’s information in a social context from a very early age and prior to extensive experience with humans.

For example, even before puppies have left their littermates to live one-on-one with their volunteer breeders, most of them can find hidden food by following a human point to the indicated location.

She added: ‘All of these findings suggest that dogs are biologically prepared to communicate with humans.

‘From a young age, dogs exhibit human-like social skills, which have a strong genetic component, meaning these skills have a strong potential to undergo selection.

“Our findings could therefore point to an important piece of the domestication story, which is that animals with a tendency to communicate with our own species may have been selected in the wolf populations from which dogs evolved.”

The study was published in the journal Current Biology.

HOW WERE DOGS DISMISSED?

A new study has found that dogs and humans have had loving relationships for at least 14,000 years (file photo)

A new study has found that dogs and humans have had loving relationships for at least 14,000 years (file photo)

A genetic analysis of the world’s oldest known dog remains has revealed that dogs were domesticated 20,000 to 40,000 years ago in a single event by humans living in Eurasia.

dr. Krishna Veeramah, an assistant professor of evolution at Stony Brook University, said: ‘The process of domesticating dogs would have been a very complex one, involving a number of generations with distinctive canine traits gradually evolving.

The current hypothesis is that the domestication of dogs probably arose passively, with a population of wolves somewhere in the world living on the fringes of hunter-gatherer camps feeding on man-made waste.

“The wolves that were tamer and less aggressive would have had more success in this, and while the humans initially didn’t get any benefit from this process, over time they would have developed a kind of symbiotic development. [mutually beneficial] relationship with these animals, eventually evolving into the dogs we see today.’

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