Nautilus

Cognitive Scientists Are Going to the Dogs

An old dog, it turns out, can teach humans new tricks. “In recent years the dog has grown to be one of the most important animals for researchers who aim to understand the biological background of complex traits,” says Eniko Kubinyi, an ethologist at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, Hungary. Previously dogs weren’t considered good models for studies into animal behavior because they were thought to be an “artificial species” shaped by humans, Kubinyi says. But this view has changed over the past 25 years.

A key driver is the at Eötvös Loránd University. It was founded in 1994 on the principle that the family home is dogs’ natural environment. Over many thousands of years, the group states, “dogs have evolved to survive in the anthropogenic environment.” The group has initiated the , or , to look specifically into cognitive

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