SEATTLE (CBS Seattle) – Don’t try to fool your dog with that trick of pretending to throw the ball but actually keeping it in your hand — he or she will not only know you’re lying, but will actually stop believing you when you are telling the truth.
A new study from Japan finds that dogs can quickly distrust a human who is not being truthful and can hold onto that distrust for some time.
“Dogs have more sophisticated social intelligence than we thought. This social intelligence evolved selectively in their long life history with humans,” lead study author Akiko Takaoka of Kyoto University told the BBC.
Takaoka tested 34 different dogs by presenting them with two containers, one full of treats and the other empty.
In the first round of testing, the researchers would stand between the boxes and point to the one filled with food, which the dogs happily ate.
In the second round, the same researchers pointed to the empty box, confusing the poor animal.
Then, in a third round, the same person would point at the container with the food, but the dogs would not go to that container.
Takaoka suggests that experience had taught the dogs not to trust the person doing the pointing.
To test that theory, another individual was brought in to point at the full container. This time the dogs jumped at the box and ate the food.
The researchers say the behavior shows dogs are able to distinguish between a “good actor” and a “bad actor” and learn not to trust the person who deceived it.
Takaoka tells the BBC she was surprised that the dogs “devalued the reliability of a human” so quickly.
Maybe that’s why Eclipse the dog took to riding a Seattle bus.
The study is published in the journal Animal Cognition.
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