Zoologists have discovered that puppies spontaneously repeat the actions of people
Puppies are prone to spontaneous imitation of human actions without any reward. This is reported by the University of Budapest.
Many young animals (and people) learn something by imitating their relatives. The tendency to copy the behavior of others is not only useful for learning new skills or gaining new information, but is also a way to show belonging to a social group. Dogs and cats have different levels of domestication, and wolves are completely wild animals, and therefore the tendency of these animals to learn from people can be fundamentally different.
The experiment was carried out with 42 puppies, 39 kittens and 8 wolf cubs living in human families. A new object was placed in their room, to which the animals somehow reacted (for example, by touching it with their nose or paw). Further, while the host held the subject, the experimenter demonstrated another action on the subject. For example, if the subject previously touched the object with his nose, then the experimenter touched it with his hand. The researchers then observed whether the animal ended up performing the same action on the object.
“Because attention to demonstration is essential for social learning, we first assessed whether puppies, kittens, and wolf cubs looked at us when we performed the demonstration,” explains Claudia Fugazza , the group’s lead researcher. “While the puppies usually paid attention to us almost immediately, it took four to five times longer to attract the attention of the cubs and kittens.”
As a result, puppies and wolf cubs reproduced the demonstrated actions in 70% of cases, twice as often as kittens. However, only puppies were inclined to copy the action with a body part homologous to the human experimenter – that is, they see the correspondence between the hand and the front paw, the leg and the hind paw, etc. Thus, the scientists came to the conclusion that dogs are better adapted from birth to interact with people.