Can Your Puppy Follow Your Voice to Food?

Photo: NBC News

Photo: NBC News

While past studies have shown that a dog is able to follow a pointed finger or a person's gaze in order to find food, new research is showing that their abilities don't stop there.

The research shows that dogs, particularly puppies, are adept in following the direction of a person's voice in order to find hidden treats.

The experiment involved hiding food in one of two boxes. The dogs know that food is in one of the boxes, but must rely on cues from a person to figure out which box.

The handler would turn his or her face towards the box containing the food and exclaim, "Oh look, look there! This is great!" The majority of dogs went immediately to the correct box.

Interestingly, when the same experiment was performed with the handler directing his or her voice to a back wall rather that towards the container, the dogs were unsuccessful in finding the correct box right away.

The results were at the same level or better than those seen when conducting the same research with human infants.

In order to determine whether this was an innate ability or a learned ability, the researchers tried the same experiment with puppies. The puppies took a bit longer to catch on, but quickly figured out the game. Well-socialized puppies were more successful than those with less socialization.

The researchers were able to determine that this amazing ability is likely a learned behavior, and one that is learned quickly during puppyhood.

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