Chaser the Border Collie learned 1,000 words - could my dog learn that many words, too?
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In 2004, Science published an article about a dog named Rico who learned over 200 words by just everyday play with his owners. In response, John Pilley with Wofford College in Spartansburg, South Carolina acquired Chaser the Border Collie, and the dog who would eventually learn 1,000 words. Chaser also demonstrated the ability to fast-map or pairing new words with new objects by inferential reasoning. Chaser’s ability to understand words parallels that of a human toddler! But
The "love hormone" is released during human-canine interactions - in pups and people!
Oxytocin is a hormone most often associated with love and is released during childbirth and interactions between human parents and children. Researchers sought to better understand which hormones were involved in positive human-companion animal interactions and found that the love hormone is increased in both humans and dogs during friendly contact. If you love your dog like your own child, this oxytocin connection could be why! Cortisol, the “stress hormone”, was decreased i
Pointing changes the meaning of human vocal tone in a dog's mind
Dogs can use human social cues like pointing to find hidden food, but can they use only our tone of voice to make choices? Researchers at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington gave dogs an opportunity to choose between two buckets full of treats after they had been associated with positive or negative “Ooo” sounds, or a breath sound as a control. Dogs preferred to choose the box associated with the positive vocal tones, indicting they can use vocal tones informa
Scent is important for a dog's understanding of the world, even their self-understanding
Understanding the “self” and “others” is something we as humans comprehend easily – but can dogs? Researchers set out to determine if dogs could understand their inner “selves” through smelling their urine, the urine of another dog, and a modified sample of their own urine. I know, it seems weird! But scent is a very important sense for dogs – it is their primary sensory modality, like sight is for humans. Dogs don’t see themselves in the mirror every day, but they smell thei
Dogs can understand the differences in human facial expressions - and they don't even need a who
Researchers found that dogs were able to discriminate between angry and happy faces – when only shown half of a face. This was tested by training the dogs to tap a touch screen with their nose when they saw either happy or sad portions of human faces. Each time the dog made a correct response – correct being either the happy or sad face portion, depending on group – they received a treat! Over time, the dogs would consistently choose the partial emotional expression they had
Dogs understand emotional change based on vocal tone
Scientific investigations have supported the notion that dogs can understand the difference in human vocal tones and respond accordingly. One experiment found that dogs took food more quickly from a person saying “leave it” in a happy tone when compared to commanding the dog to leave the food in an angry tone. A second experiment recorded the number of times dogs cocked their heads when hearing baby laughter or crying. They found that the infant crying induced more head cocki
Why you should give your pup a break next time they go dumpster diving
When given the choice to fetch two objects, researchers found that dogs choose the item associated with their owner’s happiness more often than items associated with disgust, or no emotional association. However, they also found that dogs approached items previously associated with disgust first, just didn’t usually fetch that object. This is because dogs often like things we find disgusting! If on a walk your dog finds some three-week old birthday cake, you probably tell the
Dogs being sneaky - how to avoid stolen nightstand pizza
Your dog might have the ability to be deceptive and sneaky when trying to steal table scraps. Researchers found that when people were paying less attention, while playing a handheld video game for example, the dogs in their study were more likely to attempt to steal forbidden food from them. When people appeared alert, with their eyes open, the dogs would take more indirect paths in their quests to reach forbidden food. This research suggests that dogs can use behavioral cues
Dogs see faces like people do
fMRI is a cutting-edge technique used in human neuroscience – but some dog scientists are getting dogs in the scanner! Dogs were trained to lay in an fMRI scanner and watch pictures of either human faces or inanimate objects. The dog brains were highly activated in a brain area called the midfusiform gyrus, commonly known as the face region. This same region of the brain is activated when humans, sheep, and nonhuman primates view human faces. Essentially, dogs seem to utilize
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