According to a study published in the Developmental Science journal, dogs only copy human actions if they are necessary or relevant in solving the task at hand.
In contrast, a previous study suggests that children tend to copy the actions of parents, teachers, and other influential people, even if the action is bad or illogical. Frank Keil and his research team from the Department of Psychology at Yale University refer to this causal learning as overimitation.
The overimitation experiment involved a puzzle with an extraneous lever and a lid. The children watched as the demonstrator first moved the lever and then lifted the lid to pull out a prize.
The canine experiment was presented live on stage by Psychology professor Laurie Santos and colleagues from the Canine Cognition Center at Yale. Using a puzzle box similar to the previous experiment but designed for dogs, the research team demonstrated how to open the box by lifting the irrelevant side lever before lifting the lid to reach the treat.
Even under time sensitive conditions, the children imitated both actions of moving the lever and lifting the lid repeatedly, although the lever was useless in solving the puzzle.
In contrast, the dogs stopped operating the lever once they discovered how to open the puzzle box.
Humans may be the most intelligent species on the planet, but dogs have superior rational abilities.
Considering that dogs are social animals and learn from human cues and gestures, such as pointing, they are rational in excluding irrelevant actions for a more efficient method of solving a problem, even with repeated human demonstration.
Feature Image Source: Pixabay