Monday 1 April 2024

Dogs and toddlers understand humans pointing to objects but apes don't

The video tells you all about the intelligence of dogs. This video is long but I have started it when the expert demonstrates how dogs are able to understand what to do when a human points at an object. Toddlers also understand this. Dogs are like toddlers in this aspect of instinctive intelligence but apes fail the test.

Dogs understand the meaning of pointing unlike apes and cats but like 2-year-old toddlers.
Dogs understand the meaning of pointing unlike apes and cats but like 2-year-old toddlers.

The video starts with a section about the most intelligent dog in the world (believed) as he can memorise and understand over 1000 words describing different objects that he'll fetch on command.

It is an interesting section too. More interesting to me though is the general assessment that dogs understand pointing which is an ability only fairly recently observed. 

"When his father points [the toddler] makes an inference. When kids his age start understanding pointing it is right when the foundations of what leads to language and culture start to develop."
The dog successful completes the same test. 
"That's really hard for a lot of animals. That's what really special about dogs. They are similar to human toddlers."
It seems that the cat cannot pass this test. In general the consensus of experts is that dogs are more intelligent that cats but the comparison might be unfair.

This is because dogs are more domesticated than cats. They have lived side by side with humans for perhaps up to 30,000 years. For cats it is 10,000 years. 

Perhaps dogs understand humans better than cats and therefore understand the meaning of pointing to an object from which they can make an inference that there is some significance to the action of pointing such as there is something underneath a cup.

It is very tricky to compare cat and dog intelligence for other reason. They have evolved to be good at different things. Dogs are pack animals and are attuned to group living. Cats are essentially solitary and have evolved to live a life alone and survive alone. They are great survivors hence their nine lives badge.


P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

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