Good thing he’s about as bomb proof as they come because getting to have a big dog do tricks for them gets the kids very excited and in my really casual classroom this often means kids out of their seats pressing in and begging for their turn. She also understands many words and word combinations, like her name + give. But here in the middle east if all the fingers are are up and the middle finger is down it also means a curse. but as far as a dog knowing ‘inately’ what a point means, I find that a little tough to swallow. I’m working on my Intro for APDT’s symposium on Canine Cognition, and one of the hot topics right now is why dogs seem to be better able to interpret a pointing gesture than are wolves or chimps. Before he died at the age of seven a couple of years back from liver cancer, my rottweiller could go to where i pointed, if say we were on a walk and i saw something he might be interested in i would point in its direction and say ”whats that over there son, go and have a look” i actually used to speak to him in full sentaences as opposed to just one word commands, which he also seemed to understand spokkily well, and he would go to where i was pointing to investigate, in fact he did a lot of things i wouldnt have thought a dog could do from just words i said or gestures i made. This symbol was approved as part of Unicode 9.0 in 2016 and added to Emoji 3.0 in 2016. (Often right after jumping up on the couch and “Kissing” my ear, trying, I think, to sweet-talk me into continuing the game.). By the way, she is also speaking at APDT on what ‘dominance’ is and isn’t. When my elderly ridgeback thought she’d done something that deserved a treat, she would sit down, stare at me and when she caught my eye, she would pointedly! So what motivates the traits we find odd in our cats? I’ve always wondered about the results of these studies, because in my experience, you have to teach dogs to look in the direction you are pointing. If you do not understand what 'up yours' means, then feel free to email me because I can not tell you what it really means as I have already got many warnings from yahoo answers. My younger BC has not been taught to follow gestures but he seems to “get it,” however, I honestly think that he has learned it from observing the older dog interacting with me. (This has been a comforting thought on more than one occasion) For instance, one of your dogs DIDN. He’d bounce eagerly when shown a ball, but when we threw it, he’d just continue to look at us until he heard it hit the ground, then whip around, spot it, and bound gleefully after it, giving every indication that he was pleasantly surprised to see it suddenly across the yard. . For example, dog owners can learn that certain pet behaviors, like pressing noses against an object, combined with other ones, like tail wagging, could mean different things. Didn’t you once post something about a herding problem caused by the fact that you weren’t looking/facing in the right direction? I watched that and thought “Gosh, why don’t they teach the dog a whistle to go right or left?” I suggested that to the handlers and they thought is was a lousy idea. I’d be interested in seeing how chimps or wolves who were raised in a house with people did with the same test. I have read that studies have shown that bonobos are much better cooperators than chimps, particularly around food (as described in Vanessa Woods’s book, Bonobo Handshake). But he learned to understand throwing in very short order, too, (though he still doesn’t fall for the ‘fake out’ throwing gesture…if he doesn’t see it leave our hands, he assumes we still have it). Then, at the last second he pulls up, greeting his ‘prey’ with a solid-but-not-too-solid chest whump and a few minutes of wrestling before bounding off to set up the next game. It seems that all those dog parents insisting that their dogs do indeed understand them are right–at least partially. Shout-out to all the middle children out there. I think that rather than using our hands, our faces may be more communicative to dogs. It may be easier for a dog to learn to interpret a “pointing gaze” in another being if they have this innate ability themselves. In human development, this is known as a 3-point gaze shift. Eventually, the cue for the behaviour will be just the hand, but it was because they followed our ‘nose’ to where we were looking that they learned the behaviour. My experience echoes the “predisposition to learn what pointing means” explanation. and out of some silly human impulse to help, I’d point at it. Trish, this is such a cool post (and video)! You are the raddest. I’d love to come here you speak. I have a cat that is obsessed with food and you’d think it would be easy to teach him to follow a point, but instead he just fixates on my hand. I’m not sure how helpful the public back-and-forth has been to the field of canine cognition and behavior, as most of us, whether researchers or practitioners, are interested in more than pointing and in examining the same questions with other methods. I’ve been trying to teach my 1.5-year-old Border collie what I mean by pointing – “there, that’s where your stick (or ball) went, go get it”. Why do dogs turn away from us when we try to hug them? He was experimenting with pointing with his built in nose/face direction and the dogs didn’t get the direction reliably until he enhanced his profile with the party hat. Pointing is perhaps a bit more abstract than “sit”, and in my experience it’s been a heckuva lot more difficult for any of my dogs to master. My redbone coonhound (adopted at age 3) didn’t know what pointing meant when I got him, but usually follows a point now. Dogs don’t so much see the world as they do smell it. As a genetic researcher and a dog lover person, I agree there many probably dark points in this research. I never practiced or “trained” them, I just started doing it from the time they were young and they just easily caught on. Others have also made the predisposition to learn argument (Pam Reid’s review paper in Behavioural Processes; Juliane Kaminski’s talk at Canine Science Forum in Vienna this year). He’d set Dig where he wanted him and then drive the prey into him. The meaning was no better, though. In 1992, George Bush visited Australia and, from the window of his limousine, held up his index and middle fingers in the “V” shape, a la Winston Churchill. It makes sense that a dog would innately understand that when someone deliberately looks at something there is some reason for it, and would naturally want to investigate what that person was looking at – however I would have thought wolves would act in the same way (perhaps they do, but only towards other wolves?). (Most) dogs learn it quickly, true, but I’ve yet to see one who understood it right out of the gate. The middle finger is one of our species' oldest and most ubiquitous insulting gestures. sorry! Patricia McConnell, Ph.D., a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist, has made a lifelong commitment to improving the relationship between people and animals. okay, just finished reading the original post. Anecdote: I’ve found that rats are also very good with eye gaze. Perhaps a willingness to label dogs’ ability to understand pointing as “innate” is related to our willingness as a species to expect dogs to just “get” what we’re trying to tell them (and if they don’t, they’re stubborn or mad at us or trying to be alpha, etc). In the Middle East and Far East use the index and middle fingers together or the whole hand to point something out. Displaying your palms in Greece. Those who are versed in dog training know very well that dogs have their own language that predominantly consists of body language consisting of metasignals that humans often miss. She’s a terrier mix, and has 0.0% wolf alleles in her genetic makeup. For dogs, licking can mean a number of things. The middle finger, in the flesh, is considered very obscene and offensive, though among friends, it can be issued more ironically and creatively. Another thought. In order to decode specific meaning for finger length in an individual, a precise measurement of the 3rd (middle) finger length is required in order to put it in the perspective of various hand features - such as: the dimensions of the palm, hand shape, hand lines & the dermatoglyphics. Does this suggest anything to anyone else? She is not obeying 100% of the time, but the percentage of the times she does is rising. Again, it seems that he is not lacking in any innate capacity, but was much more likely the result of an unconventional upbringing. There's the "single-digit salute" favored by punk rockers and rebellious celebrities. Again this gesture might involve you pointing AND turning your head AND looking towards the goal. And I’d release him, and he’d look for it (not sniff… I have the world’s worst beagle!) I love this post! It’s just that many times we humans are too dumb to “get” the point and act on the request. I think dogs initially learn to follow a pointing finger because our faces and eyes key them to. That’s an interesting contradiction in Field Trials, in which the retrievers are given a “Stop and Turn around and Look at Me” signal (often the dog is swimming at this point) and then the handler points them to the right or left. Ranger was the undisputed brains of the operation. Research about this is on-going. Ranger used to have a Dane pal at the park that he’d play hunt with. Terms & Conditions | We considered the possibility of brain damage. 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