A new study from the University of Eotvos Lorànd has shed light on how dogs interpret human gestures, comparing them with children. The researchers from the Department of Ethology found that “smartest” dogs pay attention not only to the location of an object but also to its appearance, suggesting a similarity in information processing to humans.
The phenomenon known as “spatial bias” concerns the interpretation of information in relation to space. For example, when we show children and dogs the location of an object, children interpret the gesture as an indication of the object while dogs take it as a direction.
This difference was explored in depth by this specific study, which involved testing 82 dogs in behavioral tasks evaluating their ability to learn the location of a reward relative to the characteristics of an object. Research has revealed that “smarter” dogs learned faster, suggesting a connection between their cognitive abilities and their ability to interpret information in more detail.
To understand whether “spatial bias” is related to a sensory or cognitive issue, the researchers measured the dogs’ head length, which correlates with visual acuity, and subjected them to cognitive tests. The results showed that Dogs with better visual and cognitive abilities showed a ‘spatial bias’ more reduced. In conclusion, this study sheds light on the minds of our four-legged friends, suggesting that their ability to interpret information goes beyond simple vision, leading to new perspectives on understanding how dogs think.