CHICAGO — Dogs live with us, play with us and even sleep at the end of our beds.
Humans love their dogs, and often like to think they know what’s going on inside a canine’s head, but is that possible?
A team of researchers hope to soon answer that question.
You look at their faces and have to wonder, what are they thinking?
“I think they understand how we’re feeling and I think they understand what we are saying a lot of the time,” Andrew Tobin said a PAWS Volunteer,
Paws volunteer Meghan Merkle agrees.
Laurie Santos is the director of the Yale Canine Cognition Center, where all they do is study dogs to learn everything they can about the dog’s mind.
“Dogs are just fascinating, we love them, they live in our homes, anyone who hangs out with a dog is kind of wondering, what are they thinking, do they love me?” said Laurie Santos, a Yale University Professor.
To figure all this out, researchers put hundreds of volunteer dogs to a series of tests.
This one involves a book.
The dog watches as his or her companion sits and reads.
Then she puts the book on the floor–behind her.
A moment later, someone comes into the room and takes the book.
“What we really want to see is whether or not dogs know when we’ve missed some information do they realize that, first of all, and when they do realize it are they motivated to help,” Santos said.
The results? Again and again not only do the dogs seem to realize something is wrong, but they also seem to be trying to alert their companions.
“At home he’s really observant, he’s always paying attention,” dog companion April Ruiz observed.
Sarah Locke, Rocket’s Companion reports, “He’s a very concerned dog and there’s a lot of humanizing things about him.”
“He was just kind of going, what do you think about this,” according to dog companion, Angie Johnston.
In another test, the dog and companion are relaxing in a room when the researcher suddenly introduces a new object.
“She’s telling him wow, look at how interesting that is…”
The goal of the test is to see whether or not a dog will become interested in the same item.
“When she did her pointing, he was all of a sudden directing his gaze at the object being really interested in it.”
Rebecca Spaulding, a Yale Student said, “The most surprising thing so far is how many of our intuitions about dogs are right. So we have all these intuitions that dogs have feelings and dogs want to communicate with us.”
Another student Maddie Marino said, “One thing we have found consistently is how in tune dogs are with our emotions.”