A couple years back I tried a fun experiment with Eko which tested a trait unique to dogs – the ability to follow human body language cues.
Eko took to the hidden treat game pretty quickly so I was interested to see how puppy Penny would fare.
It’s funny how dogs always know when something is up. I put down the two cups and Penny jumped to attention.
“Ok, what’s the game? I know there’s a game here somewhere.”
“Will, I see the treats, stop messing around and let’s play!”
I corralled Penny into the bathroom where she couldn’t view the cups and then hid a treat under one. I remember Eko took a number of tries to catch the gist of the game, but to my surprise Penny got it from her very first time.
Penny dashed to the spot and looked immediately to me for a cue
When I pointed to the correct cup, Penny went right for it
While Eko coached her on from the sidelines, Penny nailed the challenge even when there were four cups
The most interesting part of rerunning the experiment was how Penny instantly followed my cues. I’m not sure if that means she keeps a closer eye on me than Eko did, or if it means Eko just preferred smashing the cups. Or maybe it means puppies tend to watch closer than adult dogs? Any theories?
Next up, Eko will teach Penny to play three card monte!
If you have a few cups at home, run the experiment and let me know how it goes! It’s easy and a lot of fun.