Usually, pets are considered a true member of the family. They are celebrating any important or trivial event in the household, and their presence is also sought after in times of sadness. While this behavior might seem peculiar to people who have no pets, a new study sheds light on the impressive social intelligence dogs have. It seems that sharing a family with a dog is of no lesser importance than having a toddler.
The research paper appeared in the journal Animal Behavior, and it was the director of the Arizona Canine Cognition Center at the University of Arizona, Evan MacLean, who led the study. The new document offers scientists all over the world the key to understanding the social behavior of pets better. The main focus of the study was to discover how toddlers, dogs, and chimpanzees perform during comparable cognitive tests.
For this study, scientists collected data from 552 dogs among which were not only pets, but also military trained dogs for explosive detection, and assistance dogs. They were of different breeds and sizes. They were then encouraged to play games where they had to find toys and treats that were previously hidden from them. The scientists communicated the secret locations to them by using non-verbal means such as pointing and glancing in a certain direction.
The same cognitive tests were offered to 105 toddlers of two years old and 106 chimpanzees from an African wildlife reservation. The findings pointed out that chimps’ performance was far lower than their relatives, namely kids. On the other hand, toddlers and dogs proved to share a similar social intelligence. However, while they failed the cooperative communication mission, chimps were the winners in games that relied on spatial reasoning and the environment.
The lead author of the study, Evan MacLean, tried to explain these similarities between dogs and toddlers as the results of sharing a similar evolutionary process. In the modern world, kids and pets are encouraged to believe that the friendliest creature will survive, and not the strongest. This is because they are both raised through a system based on rewards and benefits. As long as dogs behave and they look friendly, they are going to receive a treat. Similarly, as long as kids are nice, gentle, and obedient, they will receive appreciation among others.
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