For most dog owners, the bond they share with their four-legged friends stretches beyond a household pet. For many that relationship is closer in relation to that of a parent and child, or even as another member of the family. Understanding one another is one of the main reasons pet lovers share this special bond with dogs.
Now, new research shows that there is actually a greater link between dog gestures and commands and how man and dog are actually communicating with one another.
How Dogs Communicate with Humans
More specifically, “referential gestures,” which are similar to pointing and signaling for humans, are what’s being used as a main mode of communication between domestic dogs and their families. This type of intentional request is rare among cross species and proof that bonds are only getting stronger.
According to the study by researchers at the University of Salford, dogs aren’t just listening to commands from their owners and learning to obey them, they’re also doling out their own gestures and commands that they too have conditioned their friend to learn to abide by.
The study links 19 dog gestures to commands that once given, humans typically understand and carry out for their pooch. Those gestures observed by researchers got owners to do things like scratch, feed and play with the ball and we’re communicated by actions like reaching with their paw, gazing and standing on their hind legs.
Dr. Hannah Worsley, who co-authored the study which was published in Animal Cognition Journal, commented, “After 30,000 years of cohabitation, dogs and their human companion have become skilled at identifying and understanding each other’s referential cues.”
Factors Effecting Communications
The study even found that dogs will push to speed up their human friend’s response to their command if they are not following through.
Factors including how long the dog has lived with the humans, how many people they are communicating with daily and their socialization skills all play a role in how well they can communicate with their families.
So what does this mean for your beloved pal? He might not be telling you when it’s time to turn the TV off and go to bed just yet, but he is already talking to you every day and with the right training and boundaries set, the lines will continue to blur between pet and another member of the family.
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