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Yale University study looks into what dogs are thinking


A study by Yale University is looking at determining the intelligence of man's best friend.

The study looking into what dogs are thinking launched just a few months ago and Eyewitness News went to the Canine Cognition Center to see the study in action.

Most people would like to think that their dog is trying to communicate with them, whether it's with a wag of the tail or an expressive bark.

Researchers at Yale University are learning our dogs may actually be getting their social cues from us, much like children do. 

"These are critters who are in our home who we share and socialize with," said Laurie Santos, who is the director for the Cognition Center and a psychology professor at Yale. "We have this incredible bond with, and we want to know what's in their heads." 

Santos is leading a study focused on how a dog's mind works. They have studied 80 pooches from every age group and every breed. 

One of the dogs in the study is Phoebe, who is a 3-year-old white shepard. During the study, her task is finding the treat into his trick puzzle box

The first time, Angie, who is a graduate student at Yale University, shows Phoebe nothing, and once the student leaves the room, the results are reflective of just that. Phoebe doesn't find the treat.

But the second time, Phoebe sees Angie put the treat in the box and open and close every lid. When Phoebe is left alone, she finds exactly what she's looking for.

"One of the surprising things we are seeing is how much they're following Angie's movements in these puzzle-box studies. We were surprised to see the increased paw use," Santos said. "Somehow they are mapping using her hands on the fact that they should be using their paw."

Santos said more studies need to be done, but Yale researchers are learning that dogs process information at a very intricate level. Santos added that their social learning is even more complex than expected.

As for Phoebe, she now has something many humans strive for a degree from an Ivy League school. Yale is looking for dogs to participate in their studies and 600 dog owners have already signed up.

If you are interested in the study, click here.  

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