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Dec 16, 2013 09:08 AM EST

Future Generations of Dogs Will Be Much Smarter, Study


A dog's ability to understand and predict human behavior is based on its inborn talent and not developed in the course of training, according to a University of Abertay study. Animal psychologists said that both trained and untrained dogs were found to interpret human behavior far better than previously believed.

Evolutionary biologists at Dundee said that this talent was a result of breeding and genetic selection. It is believed that their abilities will get more advanced in the future and grow with each generation.

Future generations of dogs will be much 'smarter' than the current lot due to their increased cognitive abilities. They will be able to carry out basic household tasks such as fetching and retrieving without being either trained or instructed.

For the study, researchers observed 24 dogs (trained and untrained) and their reactions to people's visual commands such as pointing to or gazing at a location. Untrained dogs surprisingly performed as well as their counterparts (trained dogs).

The researchers came to the conclusion that it is genetics and not training that controls the cognitive development of a dog.

"We found that training levels didn't make any difference - no matter how well trained they were, it did not make their ability to pick up cues better or worse, Dr Clare Cunningham, who led the study said. "What made the difference was whether they were familiar with the human who was giving the cues," Daily Mail UK reported.

Cunningham said that when a dog becomes aware of a particular individual, it tends to pay close attention to him/her and as the acquaintance grows, it can read the person's behavior more efficiently.

"The evidence coming from different directions clearly suggests that selection pressure during domestication has had an effect on dogs' skills in this domain." Dr Juliane Kaminski from Portsmouth University and co-author of the study said. "If such abilities can be passed on from one generation to the next than over time we will see them getting better and better and better at predicting human behaviour."

The finding has been published in the journal Animal Cognition.

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