Sunday, September 2, 2018

What Your Dog Can Do That Chimps Cannot

Chimps, Bonobos, and the other great apes are our closest relatives. They are highly intelligent and have complex societies that are surprisingly like ours. Yet there is something that your dog gets that they don't.


With very little training, your dog knows what you mean when you point at something. It will look where you're pointing because it knows that you want it to. Maybe it's which cup to knock over to find a treat. Or maybe it's a bird off in the next field.

But despite lots of effort, researchers can't seem to get our primate cousins to understand this basic skill.

Sure, there are no doubt lots of perfectly good reasons why chimps and bonobos don't understand pointing. Or maybe they do understand it, but don't care. (Cats, anyone?)

Two of our Great Danes got excited when we pointed. It didn't matter if it was a squirrel in a tree or a plane in the sky or a tennis ball in the grass or a treat we'd hidden. When we'd point, they would immediately turn and stare, frowning, focusing, looking for whatever it was that we were trying to indicate.

Smart animals, those dogs we all love.

1 comment:

  1. This was investigated by the Max Planck Institute in Berlin, lol. Us Germans are very curious...