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A Dog’s Eye View of People

January 26, 2012

One key to our successful long-term relationship with dogs may lie in the eyes.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

How to look like a dog…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Many people treat their dogs like members of the family. Now, there’s evidence that through thousands of years of co-habitation with us, they’ve developed some of the same social skills as human infants. Behavioral biologist Adam Miklósi and his colleagues at Eötvös University in Hungary outfitted dogs with eye-tracking devices. Then they had the canines watch videos of people turning their heads to look to at objects to their right or to their left. They found that the dogs only followed the direction of the movement with their eyes if the people in the videos greeted them verbally and made eye contact first. But if the people looked down and spoke in a neutral tone of voice, the dogs ignored the movement.

ADAM MIKLÓSI (Eötvös University, Budapest):

Dogs followed the action of the human only if this was preceded by this communicative interaction.

HIRSHON:

He says human infants do the same thing, and the study highlights the importance of communication in the relationship between humans and dogs. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

 

After thousands of years of co-evolution with humans, dogs show some of the same social skills as babies. (Bernadett Miklósi)