Comprehension of human communicative signs in pet dogs (Canis familiaris)

Krisztina Soproni, A. Miklósi, J. Topál, V. Csányi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

236 Citations (Scopus)


On the basis of a study by D. J. Povinelli, D. T. Bierschwale, and C. G. Cech (1999), the performance of family dogs (Canis familiaris) was examined in a 2-way food choice task in which 4 types of directional cues were given by the experimenter: pointing and gazing, head-nodding ("at target"), head turning above the correct container ("above target"), and glancing only ("eyes only"). The results showed that the performance of the dogs resembled more closely that of the children in D. J. Povinelli et al.'s study, in contrast to the chimpanzees' performance in the same study. It seems that dogs, like children, interpret the test situation as being a form of communication. The hypothesis is that this similarity is attributable to the social experience and acquired social routines in dogs because they spend more time in close contact with humans than apes do, and as a result dogs are probably more experienced in the recognition of human gestures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)122-126
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Comparative Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)

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