Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Imitation In Dogs Matches Humans and Apes

Unknown Lamer posted about a year ago | from the that's-where-fido-picked-up-his-bad-habits dept.

Science 181

sciencehabit writes "The next time your dog digs a hole in the backyard after watching you garden, don't punish him. He's just imitating you. A new study reveals that our canine pals are capable of copying our behavior as long as 10 minutes after it's happened. The ability is considered mentally demanding and, until this discovery, something that only humans and apes were known to do."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

THAT explains it! (5, Funny)

Freshly Exhumed (105597) | about a year ago | (#44358787)

Stop chewing on your wife's best shoes and the dog will stop doing that too! Oh and also don't chew on the sofa cushions either.

Re:THAT explains it! (4, Informative)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about a year ago | (#44358815)

That's behavior that most mammals do when they teethe due to physical discomfort.

Just give your puppy his own chew toys that he KNOWS are his and quickly correct him when he tries to chew on things not his and he'll soon learn what he can and can't chew on. Of course, different breeds are easier to train than others so YMMV.

Re:THAT explains it! (2, Funny)

Freshly Exhumed (105597) | about a year ago | (#44358859)

Whoooooooosh!

Re:THAT explains it! (5, Funny)

ikarys (865465) | about a year ago | (#44359311)

Dog: Woooooooofsh!

Re:THAT explains it! (4, Funny)

Cryacin (657549) | about a year ago | (#44359343)

Come on guys, that was ruff.

Re: THAT explains it! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44359259)

If your dog misses a joke in the next 10 minutes now you'll know why.

Re:THAT explains it! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44360321)

The first rule in training puppies is that you need to be at least as smart as the puppy.

Re:THAT explains it! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44358851)

Yeaaa err that is not really copying you ever seen any small child chew anything they can get there hands on? Yea its not just limited to the canine species.

Re:THAT explains it! (4, Funny)

flyneye (84093) | about a year ago | (#44359571)

My Jack Russell is pretty good at copying. He now sits up against the back of the couch and watches T.V. He'll snipe your beer, right from the bottle. Sleeps on his back with his head on the pillow. Shits on the neighbors lawn. Just like me!

Re: THAT explains it! (4, Interesting)

nbritton (823086) | about a year ago | (#44359059)

Easy fix... put the shoes away. It's all about operant conditioning with dogs. I suggest an e-collar, an alternative him to chew on, and positive reinforcement when he does something you want. I hear imitation also works, you could fetch some of his toys to chew... ;-)

The other neat thing that dogs can do is figure out what you mean when you point at something, apes just can't seem to grasp this. NOVA did a documentary that attempted to qualify ape intelligence by showing the diffrences between human children and other animals. It was eye opening, particularly the use of tools and the crafting of weapons to kill prey by chimps. I think animals are a lot smarter then we give them credit for, anyhow here is a link: http://m.video.pbs.org/video/1200128615/ [pbs.org]

Re: THAT explains it! (3, Insightful)

rikkards (98006) | about a year ago | (#44359353)

E-collar? Put that on your kid and see how they react (or Children's aid). The latter two suggestions are the right answer. If you have to resort to shocking your dog then you are doing something wrong.
Your second paragraph is very true, we are becoming more and more aware that animals are not purely instinct driven. Well they are but so are we, we just don't realize our needs and wants are just that.

Re: THAT explains it! (4, Funny)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year ago | (#44359491)

E-collar? Put that on your kid and see how they react (or Children's aid).

There are a LOT of children that need that. I fully support the deployment of these things in schools for kids that are troublemakers.

Re: THAT explains it! (0)

pspahn (1175617) | about a year ago | (#44359597)

There are a LOT of children that need that. I fully support the deployment of these things in schools for kids that are troublemakers.

Often, it is enough to simply single them out. Maybe it's a collar, maybe its only being allowed to use crayons because they're throwing pencils, it doesn't matter. Give them a reason to be embarrassed and watch them begin to listen.

Re: THAT explains it! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44360155)

Or resent you and turn worse.

I'm guessing you don't do much with children. Positiver reinforcement does more than negative, just like dogs.

Re: THAT explains it! (1)

azav (469988) | about a year ago | (#44359657)

I know a lot of people's kids who should be hooked up to a car battery rather than just an e-collar.

Sometimes, one painful lesson is a much stronger NO that is needed.

Re: THAT explains it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44360003)

E-collar doesn't mean the same thing as a shock collar. An e-collar is the large plastic cone that is put on a dog by a vet (typically after a surgery) that prevents the dog from chewing on the area that was operated on. The "e" in e-collar is is short for 'Elizabethan' as a reference to the big poofy collars that Shakespeare used to wear.

Re: THAT explains it! (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | about a year ago | (#44360125)

You don't necessarily need to be shocking the dog. Many of the electronic collars (which the OP may not have been referring to at all, considering the other type of collar that's actually called an e-collar) have a "buzz" function that's just a high pitched dog whistle-like noise that you can use as positive punishment in a manner similar to using shocks, but without the cruelty. Obviously, you still have to provide an alternative and provide positive reinforcement for it to work, but if they're really stubborn it's an option.

Re: THAT explains it! (1)

jittles (1613415) | about a year ago | (#44360179)

E-collar? Put that on your kid and see how they react (or Children's aid). The latter two suggestions are the right answer. If you have to resort to shocking your dog then you are doing something wrong. Your second paragraph is very true, we are becoming more and more aware that animals are not purely instinct driven. Well they are but so are we, we just don't realize our needs and wants are just that.

Hey buddy. I use a shock collar on my dog and I don't shock her at all. So you ask, why do I have it? Because she's a hound, and I like to let her roam freely whenever safety allows. The problem? She's a hound. She gets onto a scent and does not want to get off of it. She completely stops hearing my voice. Here is where the shock collar comes in handy. See it does more than just shock. I can also make it beep. And that beep snaps her out of her sniffing spree. It also works great when she's too far away to hear me well (I don't have a very good yelling voice). I beep the thing and she has been trained to come to me immediately.

Re: THAT explains it! (1)

ozydingo (922211) | about a year ago | (#44360181)

I find too many people are quick to know that there understanding encompasses "the right answer" for all dogs. After the first year+ of trying hard and working with trainers to use redirection and positive reinforcement without and positive punishment, I have to say that the e-collar has been an indispensable tool for my dog. And yeah, I put it on myself to see what it feels like at various levels. It goes from 0 to 127, and I typically use it on him at 20. I've given myself a 60, and am very hesitant to go above that on him or me.

I haven't used it for chewing because he rarely does that, and I only find out about it when it's far far too late for the e collar to do anything. But, I could potentially see it being an effective strategy to deliver the stimulus exactly as he puts his mouth on the shoes. Please note, if you don't already know, that I'm not talking about painful (ok, yeah, that's subjective), yelp-inducing shocks, but instead an irritating stimulus that you've first trained him how to stop. This training is the first thing that the last trainer I've used did with me when I asked him about the merits of using one. We first found the lowest level that he showed any sign of noticing (to me, this level feels like an irritating tickle), then spent some time using negative reinforcement by taking away the shocks the moment he obeyed a well-known command.

I have, and occasionally still do, however, use it to direct his attention when outdoors. See, the reason I was having so much difficulty is that he simply didn't care about food, happy rewarding praise, or most anything else I was able to offer, when there was another dog in nose-shot. I had limited success using a command that meant he could sniff around and pee on things for a while as a reward for not pulling on the leash, but I simply wasn't making enough progress. Now that's I've gone e-collar, I have been much more successful at getting him to be able to behave and recall off-leash and on, which means I now get to let him run around whereas I simply could not before (mind you, he's a pit bull, and not being able to recall your pit bull when he's running towards a stranger's dog or child is unacceptable of the owner). It also stresses me out far less now that I can reliably get his attention, and that's improved my relationship with him. So as I see it, the e-collar has greatly improved his (and my) quality of life.

Re: THAT explains it! (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year ago | (#44360371)

E-collar? Put that on your kid and see how they react (or Children's aid). The latter two suggestions are the right answer. If you have to resort to shocking your dog then you are doing something wrong.

Oops, I'd better take it off. Hold on while I take off his muzzle, remove his leash and collar, and put him back in his cage. Oh wait, like you, I just confused my dog with a person.

Re: THAT explains it! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44359737)

The other neat thing that dogs can do is figure out what you mean when you point at something, apes just can't seem to grasp this.

Similar brains have similar learning curves. Dogs have an advantage with pointing, because it's akin to throwing. Maybe an ape trained to fetch just like a dog will have an easier time figuring out pointing. Or normal ape behavior makes hand gestures too ambiguous or specialized for other purposes, preventing them from figuring out what we mean.

In a lucky coincidence, I was just taking care of a young dog this past week, and I pointed at several things on different occasions and it never turned it's head to look at anything except my hand. That dog also hadn't been taught to fetch. So, I'm treating this subject as a discussion of learned behavior because it doesn't seem to be instinctive. I believe pointing is much more symbolic than people consider it to be, and that's why most animals can't figure it out. For a dog, the similarity of fetching to a basic survival task like hunting provides a first step. Then an object being cast at a location makes it possible for a dog to comprehend a 'point of interest'. From a dogs perspective, the pointing gesture resembles a hand after throwing an object. That means researchers are testing most animal's comprehension of symbols they normally wouldn't have any associations for. Since apes have arms and hands I'm not sure why they're at a disadvantage compared to dogs then, except maybe the pointing gesture for them is already associated with a bunch of other things. The way an ape would indicate a point of interest might be leaning forward, or some action combined with vocalization that's unrecognized by us. And if we aren't aware of them having such gestures or symbols, it's really a stretch to expect them to figure out ours.

Re: THAT explains it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44359925)

And now I'm replying to myself with an idea for an experiment... If a group of apes in dense cover (so they can't easily see around themselves) is approached by a silent intruder, how does the first ape to see them signal alarm? Do the apes consistently face the intruder while making noise? If an intruder appears opposite to the original direction, does it surprise the other apes nearby who have reacted only to the first alarm (whether or not they've actually seen the first intruder themselves)? Their surprise may be an elevated alarm response or confrontation of other apes (different than the first apes actions), which may even redirect the first alarmed ape to the second intruder.

If apes are successful at identifying the directions of intruders to each other, then a person mimicking some of those behaviors with a different (calm) group of apes might be able to point in a way they'll respond to (or point at something out of their line of sight, which then draws their interest).

Re: THAT explains it! (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year ago | (#44360411)

Pointing is definitely learned in humans, too - or at least it is with my kids. If you think about it, it's a pretty crappy way to indicate something unless your heads are nearly together or you are far enough apart that you can interpolate the line between the person's face and finger.

Or if it's a huge alien spacecraft and so accuracy doesn't matter much.

Re:THAT explains it! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44359459)

Ahhh ... so this explains why my dog drinks out of the toilet.

Re:THAT explains it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44359937)

Ahhh ... so this explains why my dog drinks out of the toilet.

He/she sees you bent over the toilet with your head deep in the bowl every morning after you've been out drinking or after you've kissed your wife before she brushes her teeth.

Re:THAT explains it! (3, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#44359849)

Stop chewing on your wife's best shoes and the dog will stop doing that too! Oh and also don't chew on the sofa cushions either.

Also, it's a very good reason not to have sex with your wife in front of your pets.

So when i see a dog licking the balls (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44358791)

I know i shouldn't kiss the girl that owns him

Re:So when i see a dog licking the balls (3, Funny)

SnarfQuest (469614) | about a year ago | (#44358819)

So, why does your dog do that to my leg? Just what have you been letting him watch you do?

Re:So when i see a dog licking the balls (1)

Molochi (555357) | about a year ago | (#44358911)

You just lost my dog's rape fight. /Willard reference.

Re:So when i see a dog licking the balls (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44359099)

What would be an appropriate punishment for a dog for sexually molesting humans?

Like she needs you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44359119)

Come on, a girl that can lick herself? That is the ultimate self service.

Re:Like she needs you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44359229)

Especially if she's licking her own balls.

Re:So when i see a dog licking the balls (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44359225)

wrong, you DO want to kiss that girl, she will make you happiest dude in world, just make sure she brushes teeth and uses mouth wash before kissing you :P

Humans Co-evolved with Dogs! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44358801)

Humans Evolved from Apes and Dogs Evolved from Wolves.

There has to be lots of mimicry.

Re:Humans Co-evolved with Dogs! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44358919)

Dogs didn't evolve from wolves. Dogs were bred from wolves. There is a world of difference. And that breeding program was designed to maximize certain aspects of canine intelligence. A dog is a man-made creation that has no relation to evolutionary development. In this light, the fact that dogs exhibit mimicry while almost no other animal does is not surprising.

Re:Humans Co-evolved with Dogs! (3, Insightful)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#44358945)

P.sure that evolution is about retention of particular traits more suited to the environment. Whether that environment is dominated by non-organic or organic processes, and whether those organic processes are floral, bestial or human, is irrelevant. So, a breeding programme is an excellent demonstration of evolution at a fast pace.

Re:Humans Co-evolved with Dogs! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44359073)

P.sure that evolution is about retention of particular traits more suited to the environment.Whether that environment is dominated by non-organic or organic processes, and whether those organic processes are floral, bestial or human, is irrelevant. So, a breeding programme is an excellent demonstration of evolution at a fast pace.

Repeat after me: "evolution, natural selection, and adaptation are different concepts." Evolution via natural selection leads to adaptation. You are trying to make an argument for adaptation, but what you are arguing isn't adaptation. The adaptation, in this case, is the consequence (e.g. stronger wolves survive to mate), while in breeding the traits are pre-selected (e.g. breeder mates albinos).

Re:Humans Co-evolved with Dogs! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44359251)

-1 Overrated?

The only reason a moderator would ever give a 0 scored comment a "-1 Overrated" moderation is if they disagreed with the comment and used the moderation as a method to attack the poster. They are admitting that they don't think it is a troll, flamebait, offtopic, or redundant, but they didn't want others to see it. This is pretty cowardly stuff right here.

I fully expect this comment to be modded -1 Disagree (a/k/a Overrated).

Re:Humans Co-evolved with Dogs! (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | about a year ago | (#44359289)

Why does the moderation system even propose Overrated for comments at 0 or 1?

Re:Humans Co-evolved with Dogs! (1)

Cryacin (657549) | about a year ago | (#44359349)

You're right. The overrated mod is -1 Overrated.

Re:Humans Co-evolved with Dogs! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44360355)

Malda probably thought that it would be +1 Funny to do that.

Re:Humans Co-evolved with Dogs! (5, Insightful)

jamesh (87723) | about a year ago | (#44359021)

Dogs didn't evolve from wolves. Dogs were bred from wolves. There is a world of difference. And that breeding program was designed to maximize certain aspects of canine intelligence. A dog is a man-made creation that has no relation to evolutionary development. In this light, the fact that dogs exhibit mimicry while almost no other animal does is not surprising.

The difference is purely semantic. The difference is that dogs didn't evolve from wolves through natural selection, they evolved via human selection (which may still considered natural), but it's still an evolution.

Re:Humans Co-evolved with Dogs! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44359149)

No it isn't. Let's contrast populations and individuals. Populations evolve and individuals mutate or are naturally selected. In this case individuals are selected for breeding or culling based on their traits. You can't define a population (a group of multiple individuals where genetic diversity is shared by mating) for a breed of dog until the breeding stops. They are just individuals being bred until the breeder is happy. When the breeding stops, evolution can occur on the population. Contrast this with the case of evolution via natural selection. In this case the individuals are naturally selected while within a population. Thus, the population evolves. In breeding, the population is created. There is no A->B->C->(D->E & F->G & H & I->(J->K & L)) (where '&' indicates branching) progression for the population. It is simply A + Q + R (not branching, simply creation where the initial population was completely unaffected).

Re: Humans Co-evolved with Dogs! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44359267)

People evolved via "human selection" so does that mean there was no evolution involved?

Re: Humans Co-evolved with Dogs! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44359505)

So you are telling me that most of history when children were born, if they were not the acceptable hair or skin color they killed the baby and then tried mating with others to get the desired traits?

Or do you have ZERO clue as to how selective breeding works?

Re: Humans Co-evolved with Dogs! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44359741)

Yes that is what happened After all this is SPARTA!!!

Re: Humans Co-evolved with Dogs! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44360183)

Well, that's what happens in the most populous country on the planet.

Re: Humans Co-evolved with Dogs! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44360279)

So you are telling me that most of history when children were born, if they were not the acceptable hair or skin color they killed the baby

Wasn't too long ago in China that if the first-born was a baby girl, the parents would drown the girl in milk and try again for a baby boy.

Re: Humans Co-evolved with Dogs! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44360055)

Read a basic biology textbook. Natural selection is just one of many mechanisms is evolution. Others include artificial selection (breeding), sexual selection (mating habits and preferences), and genetic drift (random fluctuations in the prevalence of certain genes).

Re:Humans Co-evolved with Dogs! (1)

drainbramage (588291) | about a year ago | (#44360129)

So, you're saying he is anti-semantic?

Re:Humans Co-evolved with Dogs! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44360141)

The difference is purely semantic.

Uh, you mean the difference is _not_ a semantic one (i.e. it means the same), don't you?

Re:Humans Co-evolved with Dogs! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44360489)

It's not evolution if you are a creationist. Then it's always natural selection, which must be a very different thing.

Re:Humans Co-evolved with Dogs! (1)

cusco (717999) | about a year ago | (#44360215)

Sorry AC, but no Cro-Magnon ever sat down, looked at a wolf and said, "I'm hungry, I'm going to build me a chihuahua." Dogs evolved from wolves for several thousand years all on their own before humans took over the process. They first needed a wolf that would allow handling and confinement, and which was small enough to be able to feed. This is why populations of feral dogs almost all look the same everywhere in the world, that's the natural state of dogs before breeders started in on them.

Re:Humans Co-evolved with Dogs! (1)

NIK282000 (737852) | about a year ago | (#44359557)

Pretty much every daily task we do is mimicked, no one is born knowing how to use a shovel or how to put an object in a box until they are shown. In most cases for humans we only have to be shown once and then we can do it the rest of our lives but we have a little more thinking muscle to work with than a dog. Its not too surprising that they have the capacity to copy actions, what is really cool is that they have to map the action from a two legged human action to a four legged dog action. I'll bet the dogs that can do this can be taught a number of unusual tricks. Maybe even a dog version of sign language, dogs already communicate with body language to people (throw the ball, feed me) why not teach them how to express very specific wants or needs with a set of actions. Once they get the hang of that you could teach them to convey information that is not dog centric, the dog soldiers of Starship Troopers aren't that much of a stretch anymore.
 
On the internet, nobody knows you're a dog.

MPIAA (4, Funny)

codeButcher (223668) | about a year ago | (#44358809)

I did not copy that song! I Swear! It was my dog!

Re:MPIAA (1)

dadelbunts (1727498) | about a year ago | (#44359553)

But who did he learn it from smart guy!

Re:MPIAA (1)

codeButcher (223668) | about a year ago | (#44359615)

But who did he learn it from smart guy!

The only thing my dog copied from me is my smartness.

Bah. (2)

Black Parrot (19622) | about a year ago | (#44358861)

"Doggie see, doggie do" just doesn't have the same catch as "monkey see, monkey do".

Especially the "doggie do[o]" part...

Re:Bah. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44358885)

Well, spluh. It's "doggie see, doggie chew!"

"Only humans and apes were known to do" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44358865)

Er... parrots?

Re:"Only humans and apes were known to do" (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about a year ago | (#44358929)

I'm guessing in this context, imitation doesn't include speech or sound.

Re:"Only humans and apes were known to do" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44359253)

it's imitating for different reasons i guess. it attempts to communicate with it's own breed. and obviously fails.

Re:"Only humans and apes were known to do" (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#44358969)

Does this include the ability to repeat a single act 10 minutes later? Genuinely curious, as I've never spent time around parrots(*).

(*) Unless you include Daily Mail readers.

Re:"Only humans and apes were known to do" (1)

master_kaos (1027308) | about a year ago | (#44360021)

not only minutes later, years later. I originally had my parrot when I lived with my parents, they had a bunch of cats. My bird would imitate the cats meowing. I moved out 4 years ago. He would meow for the first couple months but the completely stopped. 2 years later he started doing it again out of nowhere, he hasn't seen a cat in years

Re:"Only humans and apes were known to do" (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#44360259)

Isn't that learning through repetition? I was thinking the hypothesis was that a dog could copy something observed once. Otherwise the discovery is entirely uninteresting. Must RTFA...

Re:"Only humans and apes were known to do" (1)

jrumney (197329) | about a year ago | (#44359095)

I used to have a cat that stood on her back legs and rattled the door handle when she wanted to be let in or out. But apparently this sort of mimicry has only just been expanded from monkey behavior to dogs. Do any of these scientists ever go outside the labs in their mother's basement and actually observe the outside world at all?

Re:"Only humans and apes were known to do" (1)

Zorpheus (857617) | about a year ago | (#44359671)

Would be nice but I never saw mimicry in our cats. They try out different thing when they want something, and learn what works and what doesn't. They can get pretty good at that when they get older.
If you want to show them how to do something it can work when you take them and make them move in the way they have to move. That way we managed to teach one cat how to open doors, which was not such a good idea though ...

Re:"Only humans and apes were known to do" (1)

Zorpheus (857617) | about a year ago | (#44359899)

After thinking about this, it could be that the making them move never worked, that they always had to come up with doing something by themselves.

Crows also learn and imitate (1, Interesting)

advid.net (595837) | about a year ago | (#44358923)

I've seen a scientific documentary that shows how crows can learn just by looking at other fellows and imitate them to solve practical problems.

Human, apes and dogs are hardly the only species to do so.

Re:Crows also learn and imitate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44359153)

And I've had parrots, well, parrot my speech.

fridge (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44358937)

my old dog watched me open the fridge one day, and carried on doing it and emptying the contents until a child lock was put on it

That explains it.. (3, Funny)

sjwt (161428) | about a year ago | (#44359047)

So this is why I see many fat dogs lately..

Dogs are no dummies (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44359089)

Dogs have been scrutinizing us humans for 400 centuries, so they're experts at understanding our moods and behaviors.

Re:Dogs are no dummies (1)

CSMoran (1577071) | about a year ago | (#44359667)

However, they have no way of passing this knowledge to their offspring, because we do not select them for human scrutiny. Unless you agree with Lamarck.

Re:Dogs are no dummies (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about a year ago | (#44360429)

You are missing the word "consciously" in there somewhere.

Slashdot sociopaths... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44359171)

"It may come one day to be recognized, that the number of legs, the villosity of the skin, or the termination of the os sacrum, are reasons equally insufficient for abandoning a sensitive being to the same fate. What else is it that should trace the insuperable line? Is it the faculty of reason, or perhaps, the faculty for discourse?...the question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer? Why should the law refuse its protection to any sensitive being?... The time will come when humanity will extend its mantle over everything which breathes... "
Jeremy Bentham (1748 - 1832)
Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation

Cats Can Do This, But Most Can't Be Bothered (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44359179)

My cat imitates my actions, but then again he's a rare breed that has a reputation for acting more like dogs than cats. He's a Turkish Van [wikipedia.org] who barks (short, loud verbalizations to get my attention instead of the traditional "meow"), fetches (some other cats can be taught to fetch... Turkish Vans teach their owners to play fetch), and generally exhibits the behavior of a pack animal that wants the favor and attention of the alpha animal (the human).

As for imitative behavior, he loves to watch me wash dishes. Turkish Vans are fascinated by water (in nature they swim for fun and fish for food), so he has to be on the counter watching whenever I'm washing dishes. He sees me apparently rubbing my "paws" together under the stream of water, and if I turn to put the dish in the drying rack, he will invariably start pawing at the stream of water, and then rubbing his paws together under the stream. He's invariably very confused because he doesn't understand what this accomplishes, but he keeps doing it because he sees me doing it.

Cats have the intelligence to imitate behavior, but they don't exhibit it because most domesticated cats do not have the pack mentality. They do their own thing unless there is a reward for doing your thing. You hear about people teaching their cats to flush the toilet, but that's usually because they're fascinated by the "reward" of getting to watch the whirlpool. Turkish Vans and dogs, however, will do things because they see you doing it and they want to win your approval by doing what you do.

Re:Cats Can Do This, But Most Can't Be Bothered (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44359365)

Thanks - have to post anon because of mods. Your post was informative and I'd mod you up if I'd left myself any points... :-c

Re:Cats Can Do This, But Most Can't Be Bothered (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44359721)

You hear about people teaching their cats to flush the toilet, but that's usually because they're fascinated by the "reward" of getting to watch the whirlpool.

Why don't they just flush for the reward whenever they feel like it, not just having taken a dump?

Re:Cats Can Do This, But Most Can't Be Bothered (1)

Bender Unit 22 (216955) | about a year ago | (#44359917)

They do, which many youtube videos show. :)
So it is a mixed blessing.

Re:Cats Can Do This, But Most Can't Be Bothered (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44360187)

I had a Turkish Van, was my best friend for many years. He too played fetch, and had all the other traits you mention. He also had an extra digit on each paw, giving him mittens to fumble with.

He spent his first few years alone with me. When I had gotten together with my wife and kids, he made it clear to them that he was still my cat, and ranked higher than the kids, in our pack. Heh, he had chased the youngest boy, 3 at the time, into the bathtub and was swatting at him as he cried for help. He was so much fun.

This is ridiculous (2)

Vlad_the_Inhaler (32958) | about a year ago | (#44359233)

Mimicry is perfectly standard behaviour for animals. There have been studies on how parents teach their offspring how to hunt dating back decades. This applies on land, on/under water and in the air. Most of the studies I have heard about involve mammals or birds, I can't remember any involving reptiles, fish or (in particular) insects. Some larger spiders may have this ability - ones large enough to eat small ground-nesting birds for instance
.
The article itself is more about adapting behaviour by watching humans and that is self-limiting, apart from speech there is not much useful a bird can learn that way. I have a neighbour who used to look after the garden before it was turned into a lawn. Back then he had a fan - a blackbird which would hang around when he was digging, waiting for worms to be unearthed. It presumably recognised my neighbour as non-threatening and the digging as the same thing it would do but on steroids.
I was attacked by a goose a few years back. We were sitting outside and someone had fun throwing it scraps, closer and closer to me. It tried to drive me off by driving at me while hissing and flapping its wings. I joined in the fun by advancing on it, hissing back and 'flapping' my arms the same way. Communication was achieved, goose withdrew to a safer distance.

Re:This is ridiculous (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | about a year ago | (#44359299)

I was attacked by a goose a few years back. We were sitting outside and someone had fun throwing it scraps, closer and closer to me. It tried to drive me off by driving at me while hissing and flapping its wings. I joined in the fun by advancing on it, hissing back and 'flapping' my arms the same way. Communication was achieved, goose withdrew to a safer distance.

You were lucky. Usually geese go for the legs in such situation. Especially if you wore shorts. Geese just love to pinch human legs...

Re:This is ridiculous (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about a year ago | (#44360409)

And if you bend over, they will go for your eyes. Best to carry an umbrella into goose territory. Since they have poor 3d vision, they see the rapidly expanding umbrella as charging them.

Re:This is ridiculous (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | about a year ago | (#44360479)

And if you bend over, they will go for your eyes.

Did you hope they'd go for your ass?

Since they have poor 3d vision

Maybe farting might help?

Big surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44359243)

Some breeds of dogs surpass apes in some cognitive skills that humans value. Dogs are mentally capable of showing humans which direction to go. They can herd sheep. They can come and bark at me when Timmy falls into another well.

Disasterous results (0)

ikarys (865465) | about a year ago | (#44359301)

I'm not sure when my dog caught me having a shit in the kitchen.

Far smarter than they let on. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44359485)

Dogs are far smarter than they let on. It's not just mimicry, they can talk, read, write, and operate heavy machinery. The only reason we don't ever see them doing this is because mankind would put them to work and tax them. I don't blame them really.

How was this not known? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44359583)

I've seen cats and dogs imitate their human masters for ages. I've even seen a cat raised around by dogs where the cat barks instead of meowing. I'm confused on how this is news and not common knowledge?

Re:How was this not known? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44360007)

I've seen cats and dogs imitate their human masters for ages. I've even seen a cat raised around by dogs where the cat barks instead of meowing. I'm confused on how this is news and not common knowledge?

The readership of /. has been devolving for years replacing the usual intelligent discussions with mindless chatter. One of my canines has learned how to ask for a potato chip by simply tossing her head back when she sees me eating potato chips. She does not bark. She does not come over to me; I have to hand-deliver the potato chip to her...well she will accept it if I toss it directly to her.

Re:How was this not known? (1)

drainbramage (588291) | about a year ago | (#44360193)

Thia is what passes for research these days.
Did you know that angry people are more likely to yell?
Did you know that 87.3% of facts in internet articles are made up?

Well that explains why my mutts are always farting (1)

water-and-sewer (612923) | about a year ago | (#44359609)

Was wondering what the hell those dogs eat. They're always loafing around the house, stinking up the place with their nasty farts.

Oh. Now I get it.

Damn dog (2)

azav (469988) | about a year ago | (#44359645)

Still won't do my taxes.

Chickens (1)

codeButcher (223668) | about a year ago | (#44359697)

My 2 anecdotes are about chickens. I keep a couple of bantams, more as pets than anything else.

At a stage the one hen hatched a batch of chicks. Because the chicks can't fly or hop much yet (I've seen adult chickens fly a remarkable distance quite gracefully, and hop over obstacles 2-3 times their height with a single wing flap, much like a human would use his arms for balance when hopping over something), they can't get onto the perch in their coop for the night, so mom and chicks slept on the ground. There is however a ramp-like plank up which they could walk to reach the perch, if they where so inclined. So when they where about 3 weeks old I decided to teach them to use the ramp: I made one chick from the clutch run up the ramp (running away from my hands, which shielded it in all the directions it was not supposed to go. From there on all chicks slept on the perch at night.

The other anecdote concerns moving from a dish-tipe water bowl to a old milk jug fitted with Chick Nipples [google.com] for drinking needs (click the link if you dare....). All I had to do is activate said nipples by hand so that they could see it releases water. Now they are happily drinking from this arrangement. OK, it could be argued that they peck at shiny stuff or water droplets in any case, and would learn in this manner, but still...

Now chickens are not the most intelligent animals, I would be the first to agree. But they are a LOT smarter than what people normally give them credit for.

Plus, they taste like chicken.

shows how little we "know" (2)

smash (1351) | about a year ago | (#44359745)

My cats, both of them will attempt to do stuff like reach for the door knob to open closed doors. They are round knobs so they can't do it. But they know what they need to do. One of them has opened a bag of litter and knocked it over when we were out so she could do her business in it after the door to the room with her litter tray blew shut in the wind (I kid you not).

Animals are a lot smarter than we give them credit for, a lot of the tests they "fail" is likely because they are simply differently motivated.

I didn't think this was news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44359897)

I have two dogs. One of them I got a year ago, and I went through the normal training process(on my own, without professional training). It may have taken a while for some things like 'shake' but she eventually got it all. She's well-trained now with only the exception that she sometimes jumps on people when she's excited(still working on it).

My second dog is now 5 months old, and training her has been super easy. All I have to do is have them both in the same place while training, and the young one picks up on what the older one is doing right. Remove the old one, and the young one still knows all of the tricks. It has worked wonders on getting the young one to stop chewing on things. If she chews on something, she gets scolded. I offer the same thing to my older dog and she doesn't even try to chew on it, because she knows better. Then, the young one learns not to chew on that thing any more.

Getting dogs to mimic each other is a super easy way to get them to learn new tricks, and it's something my family has been using for a long time...

I also remember reading a study that showed that octopuses also have the ability to mimic other animals(and is one of their defensive mechanisms). I honestly can't believe this is news.

Horses too (1)

Ameryll (2390886) | about a year ago | (#44360019)

I've seen my friend's horses try to unlock the stall doors after the human locks the stall door, with disturbing accuracy. This doesn't seem unusual to me.

my friend's dog does this (2)

slashmydots (2189826) | about a year ago | (#44360225)

My friend's dog is always getting yelled at over voice chat because instead of going to bed at a normal time, she hops off the bed and watches him play Neverwinter. He plays on his TV with a controller and headset so the dog knows that he's playing with the controller. So she always licks it and bites at it because she wants to play too. One time he got up for a second and his character basically had a seisure that involved running around and falling off a cliff in game and it turns out she was messing with the buttons with her tongue. So she's not very good at Neverwinter but at least she tries to imitate him.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?