The close links between humans and dogs have been well established over long periods of time. Known as loyal companions for their masters, even a confidant to some, four-legged friends are particularly a source of comfort in these gloomy times.
What’s more, Rover is said to have cognitive faculties that enable him to decipher the language and words spoken by his master. Some dogs are even said to have an extraordinary ability to understand new words after hearing them only a few times.
Recent research led by the department of ethology of the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, Hungary, has indeed followed dogs and found that they were able to learn words, and this without any specific training.
Two canines “participated” in this study: Whisky, a Border Collie from Norway, and Vicky Nina, a Yorkshire from Brazil. The animals were subjected to a well-known test consisting of locating a new toy by memorising the name of the object in question.
The memorisation abilities of Whisky and Vicky Nina were tested in several contexts. The first experiment consisted of having the dogs identify objects by playing with their adopted family.
The animals then had to recognise the toys based solely on their name, pronounced by their master. In these cases, the dogs were able to memorise the names of the toys after hearing them only four times.
Twenty other dogs participated in similar experiments, but none of them showed such impressive signs of learning as Whisky and Vicky Nina. But the ability to learn words quickly without specific training is very rare and is only present in a few “gifted” dogs, according to the study’s lead researcher Claudia Fugazza.
However, these “exceptional abilities” appear to have a time limit: after one hour and 10 minutes, neither Whisky nor Vicky Nina were able to locate the toys corresponding to the name they heard.
Despite that finding, the Hungarian researchers who conducted the study remain intrigued by these unusual aptitudes in these dogs and continue to pursue their investigations, notably through the “Genius Dog Challenge, ” a project that is making a name for itself on social networks.
Vicky Nina has unfortunately passed away in the meantime and therefore unable to participate in the “Genius Dog Challenge”.
Whisky, on the other hand, is in the game, alongside five other dogs recruited from all over the world over two years. – AFP Relaxnews
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