Intelligence of dogs in communication with people
We know that dogs skillfully communicate with people, for example, great“Read” our gestures and body language. It is already known that this ability appeared in dogs indomestication process. But social interaction is not just understanding gestures, it is much more. Sometimes it feels like they are reading our thoughts.
How do dogs use intelligence in dealing with people?
Scientists, having decided to study the social interaction skills of dogs, found that these animals are no less talented than our children.
But as more and more answers were received, more and more questions arose. How do dogs use intelligence in dealing with people? Are all dogs capable of deliberate actions? Do they know what a person knows and what is unknown? How do they navigate the terrain? Are they able to find the fastest solution? Do they understand cause and effect relationships? Do they understand the characters? And so on and so forth.
Brian Hare, a researcher at Duke University, conducted a series of experiments with his own Labrador. A man walked and hid a treat in one of three baskets - the dog being in the same room and could see everything, but the owner was not in the room. Then the owner entered the room and within 30 seconds he watched whether the dog would show where the treat was hidden. Labrador did an excellent job! But the other dog that participated in the experiment never showed where what is lying - just sat, and that’s it. That is, the individual characteristics of the dog are important here.
The interaction of dogs with humans was also investigated by Adam Miklosi from the University of Budapest. He found that most dogs seek targeted communication with humans. And what is also very important for these animals is whether you see them or not - this is the so-called "audience effect".
It also turned out that dogs not only understand words or passively perceive information, but are also able to use us as a tool to achieve their goals.
Do dogs understand words?
Our children, as a rule, learn new words incredibly quickly. For example, children under 8 years old are able to memorize 12 new words a day. A six-year-old knows about 10,000 words, and a high school student knows about 50,000 (Golovin, 2014). But what is most interesting - to remember new words, memory alone is not enough - you must still be able to draw conclusions. Quick assimilation is impossible without understanding what kind of “label” you need to hang on a particular object, and without repeated repetitions.
So, children are able to understand and remember which word is associated with an object, for 1 - 2 times. And you don’t even have to specifically teach the child - just introduce him to this word, for example, in a game or in everyday communication, look at an object, calling it, or in some other way pay attention to it.
And children are also able to use the method of exclusion, that is, to come to the conclusion that if you name a new word, it refers to a previously unknown subject among already known ones, even without any additional explanation on your part.
The first dog that could prove that these animals also possess such abilities was Rico.
The results greatly surprised scientists. The fact is that in the 70s, many experiments were conducted to teach the words of monkeys. Monkeys can learn hundreds of words, but there has never been evidence that they can quickly grasp the names of new objects without additional training. And dogs can do it!
Juliane Kaminski from the Max Planck Society for Scientific Research conducted an experiment with a dog named Rico. The owner claimed that her dog knew 200 words, and the scientists decided to check it out.
At first, the hostess told how she taught Rico new words.She laid out various objects, the names of which the dog already knew, for example, a lot of balls of different colors and sizes, and Rico knew that, for example, it was a pink ball or an orange ball. And then the hostess said: “Bring the yellow ball!” So, Rico knew the names of all the other balls, and there was one whose name she did not know - it was a yellow ball. And without additional instructions, Rico brought it to him.
In fact, exactly the same conclusions are made by children.
The Juliane Kaminski experiment was as follows. First of all, she checked whether Rico really understands 200 words. The dog was offered 20 sets of 10 toys, and she actually knew the words denoting all of them.
And then they conducted an experiment that inexpressibly surprised everyone. It was a test for the ability to learn new words denoting objects that the dog had never seen.
They put ten toys in the room, eight of which Rico knew, and two had never seen before. To make sure that the dog does not grab the first new toy simply because it is new, at the beginning she was asked to bring two already known ones. And when she successfully completed the task, she was given a new word. And Rico went into the room, took one of two toys unknown to her and brought her.
Moreover, the experiment was repeated after 10 minutes, and then 4 weeks later. And Rico in both cases perfectly remembered the name of this new toy. That is, once was enough for her to learn and remember a new word.
Another dog, Chaser, learned over 1,000 words in this way. Its owner, John Pilley, wrote a book about how he managed to train his dog in this way. Moreover, the owner did not choose the most capable puppy - he took the first one that came across. That is, this is not something outstanding, but something that, apparently, is quite accessible to many dogs.
While there is no confirmation that some other animals, except dogs, are able to learn new words in this way.
Do dogs understand characters?
The experiment with Rico was continued. Instead of the name of the toy, the dog was shown a picture with its image or a small copy of the item that she needed to bring from the next room. And this was a new task - the hostess did not teach her this.
For example, Rico showed a tiny rabbit or a picture of a toy rabbit, and she had to bring a rabbit toy, etc.
Amazingly, Rico, as well as the other two dogs that participated in the Julian Kamensky study, were well aware of what was required of them. Yes, someone coped better, someone worse, sometimes there were mistakes, but in general they understood the task.
Surprisingly, for a long time people believed that understanding of symbols is an important component of language, and that animals are not capable of it.
Can dogs draw conclusions?
Another experiment was conducted by Adam Miklosi. In front of the dog were two inverted cups. The researcher showed that there was no treat under one cup, and he looked to see if the dog could conclude that the tidbit was hidden under the second cup. Subjects quite successfully coped with the task.
Another experiment was aimed at finding out if the dogs understand what you can see and what not. You ask the dog to bring the ball, but it is behind an opaque screen, and you do not see where exactly. And the other ball is behind a transparent screen so that you can see it. And while you can see only one ball, the dog sees both. What ball do you think she will choose if you ask him to bring?
It turned out that the dog in the vast majority of cases brings the ball that both of you see!
Interestingly, when you can see both balls, the dog randomly selects one or the other ball, about half the time each.
That is, the dog concludes that if you ask to bring the ball, it must be the ball that you see.
Another participant in the experiments of Adam Miklosi was Phillip - a helper dog.The goal was to find out whether Phillip can be taught flexibility in solving problems that may arise before him in the process. And instead of classical teaching, Phillip was offered to repeat after the person the actions that you expect from him. This is the so-called “Do as I do” training. That is, after preliminary preparation, you show the dog actions that she has not performed before, and the dog repeats after you.
For example, you take a bottle of water and carry it from one room to another, then say “Do as I do” - and the dog should repeat your actions.
The result exceeded all expectations. And since then, a team of Hungarian scientists prepared dozens of dogs using this technique.
Isn't that amazing?
Over the past 10 years, we have learned a lot about dogs. And how many discoveries are still ahead of us?