Ethologists until recently categorically denied the possibility that dogs can imitate other animals and people. This ability was thought to be unique to humans and primates (such as orangutans and chimpanzees). But is it?
Scientists began to have doubts about this.
It is known for sure, for example, that dogs are “infected” with the emotions of each other and of a person. So, on average, a dog needs about 2 seconds to “mirror” the emotional state of the owner. And if he is nervous, the dog will be nervous too. If he is happy, he will be happy. And this can both help and hinder in education and training. But in any case, people need to be well aware of their emotional state and its impact on a four-legged friend.
But what about repeating actions? Are dogs capable of this?
In this case, researchers of dog behavior are not so unanimous.
For example, a study published in the Journal of the Royal Society of London states that dogs can copy each other’s actions. There is an assumption that such an ability developed in the process of domestication.
Experiments also showed that dogs that needed to solve a given task (for example, bypassing a V-shaped fence and picking up a toy) did better if they had previously seen how people or other dogs were doing it.
However, many are still skeptical. John Bredshaw (University of Bristol) believes that more research is needed to definitively answer this question.
However, imitation is used in dog training. For example, scientists from the University of Budapest, K. Fugazzi and A. Mikloshi, developed the “Do as I do” methodology based on the results of the study. This technique is based on the dog’s imitation of human actions and is used to train assistance dogs in rather complex things. The developers of the methodology believe that the main thing is to teach the dog the “Repeat” principle, and then it will successfully cope with many tasks, repeating the actions of the person teaching it.
In any case, there are still more questions than answers. And it is very important to continue research in order to at least get closer to understanding the inner world of our best friends.