“It seems dogs naturally match human gestures in a phenomenon known as automatic imitation.” Researchers help explain why dogs owners seem to resemble their pets: “People unconsciously copy the gestures of those around them. For example, a yawn will induce yawning in an observer, and a person looking skywards encourages passers-by to do the same. Friederike Range of the University of Vienna, Austria, and colleagues wanted to see whether dogs’ actions, too, were influenced by humans. They trained dogs to open a sliding door with either their paw or mouth. One group of dogs were rewarded when they used the same method as their trainer, another when they used a different method to the trainer. The team found that the second group took more attempts to get the task right, suggesting that dogs are indeed subject to automatic imitation.”
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