Dogs have been recognized as one of the most faithful creatures on the planet since ancient times.
People from all corners of the world have shared remarkable stories about their dogs, some of which have even saved their lives. Dogs are, indeed, known as man’s best friend.
Despite this long-standing bond between humans and dogs, there is still much to learn about our four-legged companions.
A group of researchers in Japan has made a groundbreaking discovery that reveals how dogs may be more knowledgeable than they appear.
Researchers at Kyoto University, led by Akiko Takaoka, conducted a study that demonstrated dogs’ ability to assess a person’s trustworthiness.
The experiment involved 34 dogs and was divided into three stages. In the first round, the experimenters indicated a container that had food hidden inside it. The dogs, who are skilled at following body language, would rush to the designated container and feast on the treats.
In the second round, the same experimenters indicated a container, but this time there was no food inside. All of the dogs ran to the empty container, only to be disappointed that there was no hidden treat inside.
In the third and final round of the experiment, the same experimenters indicated a container with hidden food. However, this time the dogs did not rush towards the container.
This implies that the dogs remembered the time they were deceived and assessed whether the person leading them was a trustworthy guide or not.
The primary researcher, Akiko Takaoka, stated that it is remarkable how dogs can quickly decrease their trust in humans. This demonstrates their ability to use past experiences to determine if someone is dependable or not.
“Canine social intelligence is more advanced than we realized. This social intelligence has evolved over time through their long history of coexistence with humans,” Takaoka added.
Takaoka’s research is not the sole experimental study proving a dog’s capability to determine if a person is trustworthy or not. In another study published in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, dogs were able to display their ability to judge whom they can trust through observation alone.
The study was divided into three groups of participants: one group for dog owners, another group for strangers who would assist, and a third group of strangers who would not assist. The study involved dog owners asking for assistance from the two groups of strangers.
According to Brian Hare, the chief scientific officer at Dognition, dogs are capable of evaluating the information they receive from humans based on how reliable it is in helping them accomplish their goals. For instance, many family dogs use their memory to find a hidden treat when a person incorrectly points to it, rather than following the incorrect gesture. In addition, Hare explains that the dogs in the aforementioned study refused treats from strangers who did not help their owners, indicating that dogs are good at reading social cues and evaluating people based on their reliability.
The remarkable findings of the two distinct studies, affirm Bill Murray’s statement, “I distrust people who don’t like dogs, but I trust a dog when it doesn’t like a person.”
Dogs are undoubtedly intelligent and sophisticated beings, comparable to humans. They can comprehend and interpret human social signals and gestures, demonstrating that they are not mindless creatures who blindly obey, but can differentiate whom to trust.
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