Does your dog watch you and follow you when you walk around a room? It’s studying, and recognizing, your face, according to new research published in the journal Animal Behaviour.
The study, led by Paolo Mongillo from the University of Padua in Italy, found that dogs can not only recognize their owners’ faces, but they also rely on their sense of sight more than previously understood. Not only that, they use their eyes to help distinguish their owners from crowds of other people.
It’s the first study of its kind, and it helps shed some light on how dogs adapted to become our domesticaed companions, Mongillo told BBC News. “If you imagine a dog in a real setting in a city or anywhere in the middle of a crowd or a crowded space, you can see how the animal must have adapted to give preferential attention to its owner.”
According to the study’s abstract, the experiment let dogs watch two people (their owners and a stranger) as they walked in and out of a set of doors. And the end of the sequence, the dogs were allowed to go to one of the two doors, and almost always chose the door their owners had last used.
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