When we think about which animals make the best family pets, goats are typically not number one on the list. They may not even make top ten. But according to an article in Business Insider, there is new research that suggests that goats actually have quite a lot in common with dogs.
Dogs are known for their ability to connect with their humans, often times expressing their desires and intentions through their expressions and eye contact. Well, it turns out that goats do too.
The study, published in Biology Letters, presented goats with a box of treats that they had to open themselves. As time went on, the human handlers made the box more difficult to open and eventually, the goats were given an unsolvable problem: a box they would be unable to open on their own. The goats looked at their human handlers with the same look that your dog gets when he really wants that sandwich you are eating.
This introduces some interesting ideas about the domestication of animals, animal welfare, and what our relationships with them means. “Our results provide strong evidence for complex communication directed at humans in a species that was domesticated primarily for agricultural production, and show similarities with animals bred to become pets or working animals, such as dogs and horses,” said Dr. Christian Nawroth, one of the study’s authors, in a press release. Goats, perhaps the first domesticated animals, have been living with humans for the last 10,000 years and show a definitive inclination to explore and discover. Goats are much cleverer than we previously gave them credit for.
While they weren’t bred to be man’s best friend, and would definitely not have been all that helpful on a hunt (some of the reasons dogs were thought to be domesticated), they do show some remarkable abilities and problem solving skills. They’ve been our staunch companions for generations and we didn’t even know it!