There's a reason so many people treat their dogs like children: it turns out they're kind of alike. A new report in Current Biology revealed that some dogs have the same communication skills of a six-month-old baby.
The findings were based on an experiment that tracked dogs' eye movements as humans addressed them -- sometimes while looking directly at the pup, and other times avoiding eye contact as the person looked at a plastic pot. The dogs were more likely to follow along and look at the pot with the human when the person seemed eager to communicate with them.
One of the researchers, Jozsef Topal, explained, "Increasing evidence supports the notion that humans and dogs share some social skills, with dogs' social-cognitive functioning resembling that of a 6-month to 2-year-old child in many respects. The utilization of ostensive cues is one of these features: dogs, as well as human infants, are sensitive to cues that signal communicative intent."
Although dog lovers who talk in "baby voices" to their pups are sometimes ridiculed by friends, Adam Goldfarb, the director of pet care issues at the Humane Society of the United States, said that they should keep up with the baby-talk, as it's more likely to grab their dog's attention.
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