Can Dogs Understand Humans? Do We Need Research to Know The Answer

Research finds that dogs pick up on human communication cues. Bet you didn’t know that, right?

Are you a dog lover?  Does your four-legged friend sit and roll over on cue?  Is it looking at you and understanding you when you ask it to “shake” and it raises its paw?  Well, of course it does.  We all know that, right?  Well, that basic knowledge of the dog-human connection and ability to communicate didn’t stop a group of Hungarian scientists from conducting an extensive research project that pretty much confirmed what we all already knew.

According to the researchers there is “increasing evidence of dogs’ social communicative skills.” Perhaps the researchers have been living in a cave for a number of years or didn’t get the memo that dogs understanding humans and responding appropriately – at least some of the time – is not news.  So, to prove their theory they had a number of dogs watch videos of an actor turning his gaze to one of two objects.  The test was would the dogs follow what the humans were looking at or not? The answer was — you guessed it, yes the dogs did follow what the humans were looking at.  Or, to put it in the vernacular of the scientists, “eye-tracking techniques can be used for studying dogs’ social-cognitive skills.”  To put it more simply, the dogs looked at what you looked at. 

Is there some great revelation that comes from this very dogged work?  According to the scientists knowing the eye-tracking behaviors of dogs gives us all insight to similar eye tracking and communication abilities of infants.  We’ll have to take their word for this because the jargon of the research work defies easy understanding by laymen.  Perhaps dogs could understand it better.

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User Comments
  1. dazzlejazz

    On January 9, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    “Woof, woof, woof WOOF!” what was that Rover? Yes, I couldn’t agree more – humans can be incredibly dumb can’t they!

  2. Karen Gross

    On January 10, 2012 at 12:05 am

    I think that human/dog communication has been the topic of a lot of scientific research. I would rather have researchers study the eye tracking ability of dogs than a study that hurts the dogs.


    On January 11, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    Now if they can find a way to teach dogs to speak w might be in business.

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