Oct
3
2016

If your canine patients sometimes fail to follow your directions, maybe that’s because they're smarter than you realize. At least, that’s what a new study suggests.

Researchers from Yale University’s Canine Cognition Center concluded that dogs will leave out irrelevant actions when there is a more efficient way to solve a problem, even when a human repeatedly demonstrates these actions.

The study was published in Developmental Science on Sept. 22.

The researchers designed a dog-friendly puzzle box in which the only relevant action for getting the treat was lifting a lid on top of the box. When researchers showed dogs how to use the box, they first demonstrated a lever on the side of the box before lifting the lid to get the treat. Once dogs learned how to open the box, they stopped using the irrelevant lever.

In fact, the researchers found that dogs were just as likely to stop using the lever as undomesticated canines, wild Australian dingoes.

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