How your dog matches words to objects

Researchers at the University of Lincoln (UK) have published a study based on the learning patterns of a Border Collie named Gable.  They wanted to see if Gable could match words with objects based on shape, which is the learning pattern in humans of toddler age.

Credit: Sally Smith; van der Zee E, Zulch H, Mills D (2012) Word Generalization by a Dog (Canis familiaris): Is Shape Important?

Gable could identify an object by name, but over time he associated the same word with objects of similar texture or size (not shape).

The researchers concluded that where shape matters for humans, size or texture appears to be the dominating issue for a dog.

This is small study (using only one dog) but it does provide insight into the learning and development of dogs.  I’m sure there is more to come in this research field.

Source:  Word Generalization by a Dog (Canis familiaris): Is Shape Important?

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