Dogs and Toddlers Understand Gestures at Same Level

Filed under: In The News, Pets, Research Reveals: Toddlers & Preschoolers

Is this dog smarter than your 2 year old? Maybe.

Dogs are just as smart as two-year-olds sometimes, according to a recent study. Photo: jupiterimages

It turns out that dogs are more like our children than we realize. Two studies have found that man's best friend possesses a two-year-old child's capacity to understand human pointing gestures, as well as being able to figure out the meaning of other "human visual signals, including head-turning and gazing." The baby talk that pet owners often use when speaking to the family pooch allows the animals to be "socially stimulated" -- just like kids.

According to the studies, at three years old, children start to surpass dogs' ability to understand human gestures. Gabriella Lakatos of Eotvos University, one of the researchers, speculates that the change may have to do with children's development of language skills. Eotvos does point out that dogs are not "just like" toddlers, for anyone who might be thinking that's what she means. (One big difference -- kids eventually learn to poop in the toilet. Beat that, Fido.) As for practical advice, Lakatos says that "when gesturing to a dog or child under's best not to fidget" so that they know what you are trying to say.

Brett Singer is the editor-in-chief of You can follow his tweets at

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.