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How Humans Have Given Dogs The Ability To Think In Ways No Other Animal Can
It’s not an exaggeration to say that dogs, likely the first animal to ever be domesticated, have more in common mentally with us than even non-human primates. Thousands of years of cohabiting have given dogs higher levels of object permanence than most animals. Their ability to communicate includes human created words, gestures, and social actions. And some research even suggests dogs have theory of mind, or the ability to mentally put themselves in the shoes of others.
Understanding What They Can’t See
Since the study of human psychology took off in the twentieth century, many of the techniques used to study consciousness and awareness have been found equally applicable to animals. Object permanence, or the ability to remember a specific object and identify it later even when it’s been removed from sight, is not common in the animal kingdom. The test, meant for children from two to five, found that dogs have a keenness for this skill that almost no creature, aside from humans, share.
Dogs Are Capable Of Learning Signals, Codes, And Even Languages
This ability to assign meaning to an object or action was most likely instilled by owners, but that's not the only skill domesticated dogs have learned from their bond with humans. Dogs can assign deeper meaning to gestures, words, and more. Studies found that dogs could be taught abstract ways to communicate desire, such as showing them the image of a sandwich to imply you were hungry. What's amazing is the same studies suggested dogs can do this too!
Humans And Dogs Have A Rare Talent In Common: Empathy
Charles Darwin surmised dogs, due to their unique heritage as cooperators with humanity, could feel guilt, remorse, and many other emotions. This was hundreds of years ago, but modern studies suggest he may not be wrong. The ability to look at a situation through the perspective of others is known as theory of mind, and some tests suggest dogs possess this unique skill. This allows dogs, possibly alone in the animal kingdom, to choose to take selfless actions for others.
What This All Means
Thousands of years of domestication have allowed dogs to think in ways we thought only possible to humans. They can identify specific people and objects, even when dealing with twins or identical items. They can develop gestures, specific barks or sounds, and communicate with humans to relay their desire and understand your desires in a way no other animal can. Some dogs choose to use this knowledge to help you, recognizing they may get nothing in return.