What is your dog trying to tell you, and are you getting in her way? In recent years, communication dogs direct at their people has been a topic of increasing interest to both scientists and dog lovers, perhaps because increasingly, dogs are viewed as our partners. Among the most popular questions is, “Can dogs show their people where a hidden treasure is?” In most studies, people are considered to be passive receivers of the information.

A new study, “Effect of shared information and owner behavior on showing in dogs (Canis familiaris),” looked specifically at how people influence their dogs’ efforts and accuracy in indicating where a toy has been hidden. Thirty dog-and-owner pairs participated. In the set-up, the dog is in the room without the owner when a favorite toy is put in one of four boxes. The owner then comes in and must determine where the toy is, based on the…

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