Now, a new study, published today in the journal Current Biology, finds that even 8-week-old puppies with little exposure to humans can understand pointing and show sophisticated levels of social cognition in other tests. On top of that, the study found that each fluffball’s genetic makeup was a strong predictor of its ability to follow a pointed finger to a hidden treat as well as the pup’s tendency to pay attention to human faces.
Emily E. Bray, a psychologist studying animal behavior at the University of Arizona and lead author of the study, says that these feats of canine cognition are about as genetically based, or heritable, as human intelligence. “This all suggests that dogs are biologically prepared for communication with humans,” she says.
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