Dogs (Canis familiaris) are Adapted to Receive Human Communication

  • Kaminski J
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In recent years, evidence has been accumulating that domestic dogs (Canisfamiliaris)havespecializedskillsinreadinghuman-givencommunicativecues (e.g., pointing gestures). These skills seem to be the result of selection pressures during the process of domestication and therefore an adaptation to the dogs' environment, namely human societies. Also, current evidence suggests that dogs' understanding of human gestures is more flexible than was formerly thought. More specifically, dogs distinguish between intended communicative acts and non-intended but target-directed behaviours, suggesting that dogs' behaviour in this domain reflects important aspects of the comprehension of human communicative intentions. However, while children also eavesdrop on communicative interactions between third parties, dogs do not. This can be taken as evidence that dogs take human gestures as directives, while children see them as (sometimes) informative. Also dogs' understanding of gestures seems to be generally more behaviourally based whereas children comprehend gestures in the context of joint attentional interactions.




Kaminski, J. (2008). Dogs (Canis familiaris) are Adapted to Receive Human Communication. In Neurobiology of “Umwelt” (pp. 103–107). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

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