The famous adage that ‘dog is a man’s best friend’ just got even deeper. New scientific study is now demonstrating that the how your pet responds to other people around you could clue you in to their intentions towards new. Scientists found that a dog will generally reject treats offered from a person who was unkind to his or her caretaker.
A study conducted by a group of researchers at Kyoto University engaged 3 groups each consisting of 18 dogs who interacted with their caretakers and other individuals in prompted role-play scenarios.
The set up was asfollows: one group of people enacted a scene where they couldn’t open a box andneeded help from another person- a stranger- in the room. In this firstscenario, the stranger emphatically refused to help.
The second group ofdogs and people enacted scenes where the same problem of a difficult to openbox arose yet in this scenario the strangers helped the dogs caretaker and inthe third, the stranger behaved neutrally when asked to help.
The dogs were allowed to witness the situations, two of the strangers- the neutral helper and the one who refused help offered the dog a treat. The dogs who observed the helper in a state of neutrality were more likely to accept the food from the neutral helper than from the stranger who actively refused to help. The dogs who did not witness the scenes demonstrated no preference as to who they would accept the food from.
The researchers at Kyoto university have concluded that this example indicated the ability of dogs to make emotionally based decisions and evaluations of people and in the same way that humans cooperate socially, dogs can and do the same. This, though, probably won’t come as asurprise to dog owners.
While compassion orempathy as a behavior trait in dogs isn’t surprising, these abilities are rarerelative to other animal species and are very rarely observed. The few other species in which these types ofbehaviors have been observed include some primates. In fact, developmentally, human childrenunder 3 generally don’t exhibit such capacities.
“We discovered forthe first time that dogs make social and emotional evaluations of peopleregardless of their direct interest. This ability is one of key factors inbuilding a highly collaborative society, and this study shows that dogs sharethat ability with humans,” said Kazuo Fujita,a professor of comparative cognition at Kyoto University.
This however isn’t thefirst or only study to make such discoveries showing that dogs, like humans,possess abilities for perceptual social behaviors. “A UK study revealedthat dogs perceive speech in a similar way as humans while California University researchers foundthat dogs can feel jealousy” says themindunleashed.com.
Dogs have undergonedomestication within human societies for between 9,000 and 34,000 years. Naturally, it would seem that this hasresulted in the mirroring of certain human abilities and behavioral and socialpatterns; though it could perhaps be argued that dogs were domesticated becauseof their unusual natural tendency towards such abilities.
“I’m suspicious ofpeople who don’t like dogs, but I trust a dog when it doesn’t like a person.”