While both dogs and pigs can communicate with their human counterparts, pigs are more likely to engage when food is involved.
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Similar to dogs, pigs are highly susceptible to training due to their sociable temperament. But little is known about how pigs communicate with humans. In a new study, researchers at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest looked at how highly socialized young pigs and puppies spontaneously interact with humans. In essence, they wanted to compare the natural inclination for companionship in pet pigs. In this test, the experimenter gave the four-month-old pig and four-month-old dog food every two minutes. Both the dog and pig looked at the trial runner’s face during the tests where food was distributed. However, when the food was withdrawn from the experiment, only the dog continued to look up at the experimenter’s face. The pig decided to do other things. In another test, experimenters would point to a bowl of food and see how the untrained animals responded to their gesturing. The untrained puppy naturally followed the pointing of the experimenter. But the untrained pig went to the same bowl regardless of where the experimenter was gesturing. The results of these tests, however, speak beyond the findings that dogs are naturally more responsive pets than pigs. Since both animals are incredibly intelligent, the behaviors may speak more to their evolutionary history with humans. Dogs have been domesticated for more than 15,000 years, while pigs have been domesticated for less than 10,000. Historically dogs have been used to work with humans while pigs mainly for meat production. These stark historical differences affect the way pigs and dogs respond to humans from a young age. Pet pigs have become popular in the last few decades, especially with the appeal of small-breed pigs. But often owners are misled and end up with pigs that grow to be much bigger than expected. Experts advise potential owners to be fully informed about the responsibility and risks associated with pet pigs.
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Pigs Communicate With Humans in New Experiment | National Geographic