Tag: New Scientist magazine

Dogs: Aren’t They Incredible!

The love and admiration for this beautiful animal goes on and on!

It seems as though it is almost on a weekly basis that new and incredible facts about our dear, dear dogs come to the surface.

So what prompted this from me today!

Only a wonderful article that was originally published in New Scientist but then was carried by The Smithsonian. I am hoping that by fully linking this post to both the New Scientist article and the essay in The Smithsonian I am at liberty to republish it for all you good people.


Dogs Use Deception to Get Treats, Study Shows

When a human partner withheld tasty snacks, the dogs got sneaky

Would these eyes deceive you? New study says yes. (johan63/iStock)

By Brigit Katz     smithsonian.com
March 10, 2017
There is plenty of evidence to suggest that dogs, in addition to looking adorable in sweaters, possess fairly sophisticated cognitive abilities. They recognize emotion, for example, and respond negatively to antisocial behavior between humans. Man’s best friend can also get pretty tricksy when it comes to scoring snacks. As Brian Owens reports for New Scientist, a recent study found that dogs are capable of using deceptive tactics to get their favorite treats.

The study, published in the journal Animal Cognition, was led by Marianne Heberlein of the Department of Evolutionary Biology and Experimental Studies at the University of Zürich. Heberlein told Owens that the idea for the study was born when she observed her pet pooches engaging in deceptive behavior; one sometimes pretends to see something interesting outside, prompting the other to give up his sleeping spot.

To find out if dogs engage in similar shenanigans with humans, Heberlein and a team of researchers paired 27 dogs with two different partners, Stanley Coren explains in Psychology Today. One of these partners would repeatedly go to the bowl of a given dog, fish out a treat, and give it to the pup. The other would show the treat to the dog, and then put it in her pocket. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the dogs began to show a preference for the more generous partners, and would approach them spontaneously.

Once one partner had been established as co-operative, the other as competitive, the dogs were taught to lead their partners to one of two boxes, both containing food, with the command “Show me the food.” And the same pattern was repeated: when the dogs led the co-operative partner to a treat, they got to eat it. The competitive partner withheld the treat.

Researchers then showed the dogs three covered boxes. One contained a sausage, the second contained a less-yummy dry biscuit, and the third was empty. Once again, the process of treat giving and withholding was repeated, but this time with a twist: when the dog was reunited with its owner, the owner asked it to choose one of the boxes. If there was a treat inside the box, the dog was allowed to eat it. But “if the dog chose the box which had been opened before,” Coren explains, “the owner just showed the empty box to the dog.”

Over the course of a two-day testing period, the dogs were repeatedly presented with this conundrum. They had been trained to lead both partners to boxes containing food, but they knew that the competitive partner would not let them eat the snacks. They also knew that if any snacks remained inside the boxes once they were reunited with their owners, they would get a chance to eat them. So the dogs got a little devious.

Researchers observed the pooches leading the co-operative partner to the box containing the sausage more often than expected by chance. They led the competitive partner to the sausage less often than expected by chance. And here’s where things get really interesting: the dogs took the competitive partner to the empty box more frequently than the co-operative partner, suggesting that they were working through their options and engaging in deliberate deception to maximize their chances of getting both treats.

“It is as though the dog is thinking, ‘Why should I tell that selfish person where the best treat [is] if it means that I will never get it?’,” writes Coren.

“These results show that dogs distinguished between the co-operative and the competitive partner,” the authors of the study write, “and indicate the flexibility of dogs to adjust their behaviour and that they are able to use tactical deception.”

Rest assured, dog lovers: your pooches may be sneaky, but they still love you more than cats.

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/dogs-use-deception-get-treats-study-shows-180962492/#5r1vc6gkyLQoIQaL.99
Give the gift of Smithsonian magazine for only $12! http://bit.ly/1cGUiGv
Follow us: @SmithsonianMag on Twitter


 The article from Brigit opened up with a picture of a pair of eyes; a pair of dog’s eyes.

I don’t know about you but some dogs have eyes that reach out and seem to illuminate one’s soul.

Our Oliver has just that set of eyes. I will close today’s post with a photograph of Oliver’s eyes that was taken yesterday afternoon.

Talk about the power of non-verbal communication!

Speaking dog!

An interesting article that appeared in the New Scientist.

Well I managed to write the 50,000 words required of me to be a ‘winner’ of NaNoWriMo14. I was validated in at 53,221 words, albeit the book is not yet completed. Together with my writings from 2013, I am within 10,000 words, give or take, of finishing the draft. Then the fun starts: the big edit!

Anyway, moving on!

The UK’s New Scientist magazine emailed me recently an article that they fathomed would be of interest. Presumably, hoping I would immediately sign up to be a subscriber. Well if that was there presumption, I will be disappointing them. But the article was certainly of interest and, as it was sent to me without my invitation, I don’t feel too bad about republishing it in full.


Dog head-turning shows they do understand what you say

YOU’RE just so right-side. The left hemisphere of our brains seems to tune into the phonemes in speech that combine to form words, and the right hemisphere focuses on the rhythm and intonation of words, which can carry emotional information. Animals may do the same when processing sounds of their own species, and perhaps even when hearing humans speak.

To test whether domestic dogs have learned to process human speech as we do, Victoria Ratcliffe and David Reby at the University of Sussex in Falmer, UK, placed 25 dogs between two speakers. They played them snippets of speech, such as the command “come on then” (Current Biology article link). The assumption, based on previous research, was that an animal primarily using the left hemisphere to process a sound will turn its head to the right, and vice versa.

When a command was delivered in a flat emotionless tone, 80 per cent of the dogs turned their heads to the right, suggesting they were concentrating on the words, not the emotion. If the commands were said in an emotional tone but some consonants were removed to make the words unintelligible, most of the dogs turned to the left. This suggests that dogs, like us, process different components of human speech in different parts of the brain.

Ratcliffe and Reby’s work suggests that dogs have learned to recognise a handful of human words that carry meaning. So a dog really does listen to its master’s voice.

“It would be extremely exciting to see the neural background of these orienting asymmetries,” says Attila Andics of the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, Hungary, who is running functional MRI brain experiments in dogs to probe this further.

This article appeared in print under the headline “Dogs really do understand what you say”


Don’t know about dogs recognising, “a handful of human words”, the dogs here in Oregon seem to know far more than ‘a handful’; way far more!

In fact, Jean and I have developed a sign language to communicate those intentions that our dogs need know verbal prompting for!  Years ago, the dogs got so excited at the mention of the word ‘walk’ that we changed to spelling it out: w-a-l-k. That worked for a couple of weeks; at most! Then we tried, “Shall we take the dogs for a wa?” No better!

So now it is a subtle sign between Jean and me, such sign hidden from the eyes of the dogs!