In a series of 3 experiments, dogs (Canis familiaris) were presented with variations of the human pointing gesture: gestures with reversed direction of movement, cross-pointing, and different arm extensions. Dogs performed at above chance level if they could see the hand (and index finger) protruding from the human body contour. If these minimum requirements were not accessible, dogs still could rely on the body position of the signaler. The direction of movement of the pointing arm did not influence the performance. In summary, these observations suggest that dogs are able to rely on relatively novel gestural forms of the human communicative pointing gesture and that they are able to comprehend to some extent the referential nature of human pointing.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Psychology (miscellaneous)