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Dogs 'similar to five-month old babies'
Friday September 19th 2014
Italian scientists have found a link between the skills of dogs and those of a five-month-old baby.
It is widely believed that as babies grow older they learn to notice the actions of other people, gradually picking up where to look and how to respond to people if they think something important may happen. This trait has long been only associated with humans and other primates, but a study from Milan University suggests otherwise.
Researchers carried out a test normally used for small babies on dogs and found that the animals had similar skills. As part of the test, 50 dogs were put in a room with a researcher. The dogs were shown a human interacting with two objects, a globe and a watering can.
The dogs watched as the person interacted with the globe, but when the position of the two objects was switched, the dogs still watched the person and and the globe in the new location. However when the person moved to interact with the watering can, the dogs' attention followed. This is similar to babies, who will watch the person to whom they were used to watching, rather than the spot where they were watching first.
Another experiment saw dogs looking longer at a person interacting with a new object in a familiar location as opposed to a familiar object in a new location.
Copyright Press Association 2014