Dogs ‘copy’ their owners
More evidence that shows there’s more to dogs than we realise.
Earlier on this year, a series of Posts was published on Learning from Dogs based on a science programme on the BBC (BBC Horizon) that revealed the degree of sophistication that is inherent in these clever animals.
We have an extraordinary relationship with dogs – closer than with any other animal on the planet. But what makes the bond between us so special?
Research into dogs is gaining momentum, and scientists are investigating them like never before. From the latest fossil evidence, to the sequencing of the canine genome, to cognitive experiments, dogs are fast turning into the new chimps as a window into understanding ourselves.
Anyway, all this is a lead in to an item on the news today regarding a study into dogs by the University of Vienna.
Dogs “automatically imitate” the body movements of their owners, according to a study.
This automatic imitation is a crucial part of social learning in humans.
But Austrian researchers report that the phenomenon – where the sight of another’s body movement causes the observer to move in the same way – is evident in many other animals.
They say that it reveals clues about how this type of learning evolved.
The study, which was led by Dr Friederike Range from the University of Vienna in Austria, also suggests that the way in which people interact with and play with their dogs as they are growing up shapes their ability to imitate.
There’s more to the news release on Science Daily from which is quoted:
New research by Friederike Range and Ludwig Huber, of the University of Vienna, and Zsofia Viranyi, of the Eötvös University in Budapest, reveals striking similarities between humans and dogs in the way they imitate the actions of others. The phenomenon under investigation is known as “selective imitation” and implies that dogs–like human infants–do not simply copy an action they observe, but adjust the extent to which they imitate to the circumstances of the action.
By Paul Handover