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If imitation is the highest form of flattery, then you will be glad to know that your dog is all praises of you. Yes, it’s a fact. How else could you explain how dogs from different regions develop barks that are similar to the regional accent of their owners? Researchers found from a study that this is due to dog’s inherent tendency to imitate their owners. Indeed, all those centuries of domestication, training and evolution has caused dogs to imitate their owners, so much so that it is a natural reaction in most pets. Let us take a look at how researchers arrived at these findings and what makes dogs imitate their owners in the first place.
Research findings reveal that dogs imitate people
There have been numerous researches that point toward the same findings- dogs imitate their owners. Previously, researchers found that dogs tend to yawn if they watch their humans do the same.
In one research study, dogs were made to watch as their owners opened a sliding door with the help of their head or hand. The researchers then divided the dogs into two groups- while one of the group was rewarded food as treats for copying the actions of their owner, the other was rewarded for doing otherwise. What researchers noticed was that the dogs consistently imitated their owners, regardless of whether or not they received rewards, confirming the assumption that dogs do tend to imitate their owners.
Another research carried out a similar experiment, only bringing time in as one of the parameters to see how long before the dogs were able to remember people’s actions and imitate it afterward. What researchers found was that the canines could copy the behavior of their owners within a 10 minute span of it being carried out by them.
Why do dogs imitate their owners?
You probably already know that dogs are pack animals and this pretty much explains why they have a tendency to imitate humans. Being pack animals, dogs do not just look up to their owners as leaders, but also try to fit in with the pack. Much like humans, they find imitation to be the best way to fit into a group, which is why they closely watch humans to pick up their actions and imitate.
Of course, the imitation skills of dogs cannot be deemed as useless. These research findings can be used to your benefit while you train your pet. Say, you want to teach your pet to shake hands, then simply extend your hand and show how it is done, so your dog can observe and follow suite. A positive reinforcement in the form of a treat also helps, we’ve heard.