Dogs may have earned the title “man’s best friend” because of how good they are at interacting with people. Those social skills may be present shortly after birth rather than learned, a new study by University of Arizona researchers suggests.
Published…in the journal Current Biology, the study also finds that genetics may help explain why some dogs perform better than others on social tasks such as following pointing gestures.
…Lead study author Emily Bray, a postdoctoral research associate in the UArizona School of Anthropology in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences…has spent the last decade conducting research with dogs in collaboration with California-based Canine Companions, a service dog organization serving clients with physical disabilities. She and her colleagues hope to better understand how dogs think and solve problems, which could have implications for identifying dogs that would make good service animals…
“People have been interested in dogs’ abilities to do these kinds of things for a long time, but there’s always been debate about to what extent is this really in the biology of dogs, versus something they learn by palling around with humans,” said study co-author Evan MacLean, assistant professor of anthropology and director of the Arizona Canine Cognition Center at the University of Arizona. “We found that there’s definitely a strong genetic component, and they’re definitely doing it from the get-go.”
RTFA. Interesting, enjoyable for folks who feel a kinship with dogs…or not. Study techniques are clinical, scientific…and add to our knowledge as they should.