Dogs are certainly no dummies when it comes to understanding humans. We may give praise over our clever pooches when they correctly engage in that particularly tasking game of fetch, but dogs have got more going on in their little noggins than we give them credit for. For example, we now know that our canine companions can process human speech in a similar way to how we do, display jealousy, and even discriminate between some of our emotional expressions.
Now, it turns out that these surprisingly perceptive animals can quickly tell a fibber from a square shooter. And once they’ve decided how reliable someone is, they adjust their behavior accordingly.
A study published Oct. 24, 2014 in the journal Animal Cognition tested 34 pet dogs as they interacted with a human and a pair of containers (one containing a food treat, the other empty). Both were made to smell the same so that the dogs couldn’t cheat and just use their noses.
In round one, participants accurately pointed at the container that had food hidden inside before letting the dog go and choose which one to explore. In round two, the experimenter misled the dog and pointed at the empty container after revealing the contents of both of them. For the final round, the experimenter repeated what they did in round one.
What happened? The dogs were much less likely to consider the experimenter’s guidance in round three than in round one. That suggests that they can tell when we mess with them – and know not to be too trusting.
According to the researchers, these findings suggest that dogs are able to make inferences about a person’s reliability based on experience, and can use […]