Dogs and humans go way back. About 10,000 to 15,000 years ago human beings started the process of domesticating canines and since then, dogs have been man’s best friend. But the recent studies came up with some surprising results. Apparently, domestication has become so innate in dogs that even the stray dogs who have never been domesticated displayed the ability to understand human commands! Way to go for our beautiful bond!
In a study conducted by Dr. Anindita Bhadra, animal behaviorist, and her team from the Indian Institute of Scientific Education and Research, it was observed that every dog could process human gestures and commands. In an experiment designed with 160 stray dogs from across India, the team attempted to understand to what extent a stray dog would follow a human.
In the experiment, two bowls were kept- one with raw chicken and the other empty but food-scented. The dogs were brought in before a human who they had never seen before and who was supposed to command and direct them.
About half of the dogs did not come close to the human. After careful consideration, it was concluded that they have had prior bad experiences with other humans. But the rest half that came, followed the human’s command and went for the bowl that was pointed at.
Previous studies indicate that dogs show on average, the ability to understand 250 gestures. They have the comprehension ability of a 2 and half-year-old. They can also count low numbers (up to 5) and do simple math. And, they also happen to distrust easily. After failing to find food in the empty bowl, they showed a reluctance to follow human commands. However, that only concludes that while they understand the commands properly, they might still choose whether to follow it or not.
There are about 300 million stray dogs around the world. India houses about ten percent of them. Hence, the diseases spread by dogs have a greater count. World Health Organisation estimates around 20,000 people die in India every year because of rabies. Most of them are children.
Dr. Bhadra believes that being able to communicate properly with stray dogs would help us reduce the number of fatalities. She believes that stray dogs behave violently in defense of their experience with humans. Exposed to gentle interactions, a dog would grow up unlikely to expect harm from their human counterparts or to retaliate in kind.
Being an integral part of our community if not our household, dogs take precedence over other creatures as companions. Their ability to be trained and to communicate, to an extent, certainly plays a major role in this. So why not take a stray off the street and give them a warm home instead of buying another? Pick up the ones near you, the ones who truly need your love and help!