Meridian Star

Community News Network

July 23, 2013

Your dog is a copycat

The next time your dog digs a hole in the backyard after watching you garden, don't punish him. He's just imitating you. A new study reveals that our canine pals are capable of copying our behavior as long as 10 minutes after it's happened. The ability is considered mentally demanding and, until this discovery, something that only humans and apes were known to do.

Scientists first discovered that dogs are excellent at imitating their owners in 2006. Or at least, one dog had the talent: Philip, a 4-year-old Belgian Tervuren working with Jozsef Topal, a behavioral ethologist at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Budapest. Topal adapted the method (called "Do as I do") that Keith and Catherine Hayes developed in the 1950s for teaching an infant chimpanzee to copy their actions. Philip was already a trained assistant dog for his disabled owner and readily followed Topal's commands. First, Topal told him to stay, and then commanded "Do as I do." The researcher then performed a simple action, such as jumping in place, barking, putting an object in a box, or carrying it to Philip's owner. Next, Topal ordered, "Do it!", and Philip responded by matching the scientist's actions. The experiment was designed to explore dog's imitative abilities, not to measure how long Philip's memory lasted; but his owner used Philip's skill to teach him how to do new, useful behaviors, such as fetching objects or putting things away.

Despite Philip's abilities, "nobody really cared, or saw that it could be useful for investigating how dogs learn or see their world," says Adam Miklosi, a behavioral ethologist at Eötvös Lorand University in Budapest who was part of Topal's team. And in 2009, another team concluded that dogs were only able to correctly imitate if there was no more than a 5-second delay between watching the action and repeating it. With such a short retention span, dogs' vaunted imitation skills seemed useless.

Text Only
Community News Network
Biz Marquee
New Today
Poll

A majority of House members approved a motion to sue President Obama for exceeding his constitutional boundaries. The lawsuit will focus on the presidents overhaul of health care. Do you think the lawsuit is warranted?

Yes
No
     View Results
Facebook
Facebook
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Renewed Violence Taking Toll on Gaza Residents 2 Americans Detained in North Korea Seek Help US Employers Add 209K Jobs, Rate 6.2 Pct House GOP Optimistic About New Border Bill Gaza Truce Unravels; Israel, Hamas Trade Blame Raw: Tunisia Closes Borders With Libya Four Rescued From Crashed Plane Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide