Puppies are literally born to be our best friends
Not unlike babies, puppies are born with some innate, hardwired skills to communicate with people before they’re ever trained, according to a new study, and they’re just as cute (well, depending on who you ask.)
Turns out genetics can explain more than 40% of the discrepancy in how tested puppies performed on social tasks, such as responding to pointing gestures and maintaining eye contact with people, than others.
But while puppies may literally be born to be our best friends, the study showed they may need some time to develop the ability to initiate communication with people on their own again, kind of like babies (beware: the “terrible twos” aren’t just for toddlers.)
University of Arizona researchers didn’t just want to play with fluffy puppies all day; they say now they can focus on finding the specific genes responsible for these social traits that can help identify dogs that would be good service animals before they are even born. The study was published Thursday in the journal Current Biology. “We found that there’s definitely a strong genetic component, and they’re definitely doing it from the get go.”
The team experimented with 375 8 week old puppies from Canine Companions, a California based service dog organization. The puppies had little one on one interaction with people prior to the study, ruling out the possibility that observed behaviors were learned.
The puppies were then put up to four different tasks, two of which involved finding treats inside overturned cups using human initiated social cues like finger pointing and object placement, rather than their noses.
And genetics can potentially explain why. “It’s potentially a similar story with puppies; they are understanding what is being socially conveyed to them, but the production of it on their end is probably going to take a little bit longer, developmentally.”Construction sector sheds workers amid insatiable building demand
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