A dog does not need to have been trained to interpret our gestures. He doesn’t even need to have lived with humans. This is what a study carried out on stray dogs in India reveals.
Man and dog have coexisted and lived together for thousands of years . By dint of being around us, but because we have favored the most docile and friendly animals over the generations, our canine friends have learned to pick up and interpret information transmitted by our movements , our postures and our expressions .
Communication and understanding are also fundamental in the relationship we have with dogs. When they fail , the situation often becomes problematic . It is even more so in some countries, such as India, where there are around 30 million stray dogs . Because they are often badly perceived, misunderstood and considered as vectors of disease , these street quadrupeds are frequently mistreated , hunted, and even killed .
This is denounced by Anindita Bhadra , specialist in animal behavior at the Indian Institute of Science and Research Kolkata , cited by National Geographic . Co-author of a study on the question, she specifies that stray dogs cannot know if people come towards them in a benevolent approach (to feed them, to stroke them) or to attack them . Knowing their behavior better and making it easier for them to decipher our intentions, especially through our expressions, would reduce tensions and incidents .
The study in question was published on January 17 in the journal Frontiers in Psychology . Anindita Bhadra and her team put 160 stray dogs for testing . One person had 2 covered bowls in front of each dog, one containing chicken and the other empty and carrying only the smell of food. A 2-person, unaware that bowls is full, means one of them in the pointing.
Among the dogs which approached the second experimenter (about half), 80% went to the bowl designated by the latter. In other words, they understood and knew how to interpret his gesture . Those of them who, following the man’s indication, found an empty bowl , were subsequently less inclined to follow his new signs.
This experiment offers at least 3 interesting lessons:
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- Understanding humans is innate in dogs . Even if he has never had a family or human interaction , he is able to understand our gestures.
- Dogs learn from their experiences and make new decisions as a result.
- Even stray and / or uneducated dogs who have experienced trauma with humans can coexist peacefully with humans.