Parents and dog-lovers may not be shocked to find out how alike two of the most lovable beings on Earth really are.
Sometimes I find my 3-year-old and the family dog just as challenging. For one thing, they both follow me to the bathroom! And they both insist on sitting this close to me on the couch, so that I can barely move. The dog and my daughter need constant attention. Sometimes I'm not sure who is more high-maintenance!
Now new research shows our tots and our pups are alike in more ways than their high ranking on the cute scale. (I mean, come on...)
The research, out of the University of Arizona and published in the journal Animal Behaviour, finds that 2-year-old kids show similar patterns in social intelligence to man's best friend. In fact, Fido is more closely related to toddlers than chimps.
Researchers looked at hundreds of individuals from all three groups, and basic communication skill tests revealed how alike human tots and canines are. For instance, when a treat or toy was hidden, kids and dogs responded similarly to non-verbal clues such as pointing.
But look at these precious babies; is it really surprising to learn our children's developing little brains work similarly to our pets? Both are eager to learn and love and always trying to "help" in situations where it may not be actually necessary...
"What we found is that there's this pattern, where dogs who are good at one of these social things tend to be good at lots of the related social things, and that's the same thing you find in kids, but you don't find it in chimpanzees," commented Evan MacLean, director of the Arizona Canine Cognition Center at the University of Arizona.
He added about the implications of the findings: "Some things that happened in human evolution were very similar to processes that happened in dog domestication. So, potentially, by studying dogs and domestication we can learn something about human evolution."
I'm guessing researchers also found toddlers and puppies are two of the most lovable and fun groups of "people" you could spend time with. Because even if it can feel suffocating when my little one and our beloved beagle climb all over me, the truth is, I am almost always surrounded by pure love and innocent joy and curiosity. And who could hate that?
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Now if only I could indoor potty-train my dog...
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Find her on Facebook where she chronicles her life momming under the influence. Of coffee.