Dogs, puppies can follow voice cues to find food



A new study shows that dogs, and even puppies, are capable of following voice cues from humans to find food.


Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, wanted to test whether dogs and puppies could locate hidden food by following human voices. Previous studies have shown that dogs can follow visual cues from humans like pointing, but this experiment was to see if audio clues alone could lead dogs to the treats.


For the study, an experimenter hid behind a barrier and presented adult dogs and puppies with two identical boxes, but only one of them contained food, according to the institute. From behind the barrier, hidden from the dog’s sight, the experimenter vocalized excitedly while looking towards the box containing food. Most adult dogs and socialized puppies successfully followed the direction of the experimenter’s voice to the food source. The researchers concluded that dogs do not rely on visual cues alone, but on a combination of human communication modes.


“Dogs may have been selected for their ability to pay special attention to humans,” said lead researcher Federico Rossano. “This set of social skills may have become part of their genetic repertoire.”


The study, “Domestic dogs and puppies can use human voice direction referentially,” was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.


View a video of the puppy experiment here:


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