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Dogs Adept at Reading People's Minds
Date:7/15/2011

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, July 15 (HealthDay News) -- To anyone who is familiar with the eerily human-like qualities of man's best friend, the news that dogs can read your mind shouldn't come as any surprise.

The latest research adds to growing evidence that dogs can interpret both human body language and general behavior, and use it to their advantage.

"Dogs and [human-raised] wolves are capable of distinguishing between a person looking at them, someone who's paying attention and someone who's not," said Monique A.R. Udell, lead author of a study published recently in the journal Learning & Behavior. "They're more likely to beg [for food] from someone paying attention to them."

Researchers have been learning more and more about the surprising capabilities and intelligence of Canis lupus familiaris, better known as the domestic dog.

One recent study found that dogs have the developmental abilities of a human 2-year-old, with the average dog capable of learning the meanings of 165 words.

"Over the last five years or so, we've been trying to understand how dogs and relatives of dogs such as wolves respond to social companions," explained Udell, who was a researcher at the University of Florida in Gainesville when the study was conducted.

"The idea behind this particular study was to try to understand how it is, for example, that dogs can use cues of attention to predict what we're going to do next and use that information to decide to beg for food from one individual and not another?" she continued. "How is it that dogs make us feel that they know what we're thinking?"

The study involved groups of pet dogs, stray dogs from a shelter and hand-raised wolves (named Tristan, Miska and Marion, among other monikers) who were comfortable around humans.

Two people stood about 6 meters apart, one of them looking directly and continuously at the dog
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