Dogs may not seem too bright when they start chasing their own tails, but in many ways, they are intelligent creatures. In particular, they are very conscious of society, both with humans and with other dogs. Many studies have shown that they can feel human emotions; in fact, they could differentiate between happy and angry faces, and even be jealous. However, it seems that they can also feel if a person is not trustworthy; Once a dog realizes, it stops following the signals it gives.
It has been known for many years that dogs understand what it means for a person to be pointing at something. For example, when the owner of a dog points to the position of a ball, stick or food, the animal will run and explore the place to which the person points. The latest research also shows that they are quick to find out if these gestures can be misleading. In a study published in the journal Animal Cognition, a team led by Akiko Takaoka of Kyoto University in Japan introduced 34 dogs and three separate rounds of aiming.
In the first round, researchers noted where a food container was hiding. In the second round, however, they pointed to an empty container. In the third, it was pointed out again to the one who had food, although the dogs did not respond to this last indication. That suggests, according to Takaoka, that dogs could use their experience with the researcher to assess whether they are reliable. After these rounds, a new study member repeated from the beginning; Once again, the animals followed this new person with interest.
Takaoka was surprised to see that dogs “devalued the reliability of a human being” so quickly. “It has a social intelligence more sophisticated than we thought, which evolved selectively in its long history next to the human beings”. The next step, according to the expert, would be to test other closely related species, such as wolves. This would reveal the “deep effects of domestication” on the social intelligence of dogs; Thus, the study highlighted that dogs are drawn to predictable things.
As soon as the events of their lives become irregular, they will look for alternative options to do. And if in a constant way, they do not know what will happen, they can become stressed, aggressive or fearful. “Dogs whose owners are inconsistent with them often have behavioral disorders.” This last part of the experiment can be explained by the fascination of dogs with something new: “Dogs are almost addicted to information,” said Bradshaw of Bristol University, “so a new researcher is” trustworthy ” once again”.
This finding comes as no surprise to a woman named Victoria Standen. She owns a collie, considered as one of the most intelligent breeds. When you go for a walk, the collie always sits at an intersection and waits to see which path to take. “Many times I point out the address and once you’ve started walking to that place, look at me to see if it’s really the right place,” Standen said. What’s more, if a stranger has proven to be unreliable (or a source of food), your dog is more likely to distrust him. “It has become very clear that dogs are smarter than previously believed, but it is different from ours”, he confirmed.
Dogs are very sensitive to human behavior but have fewer preconceptions. They live in the present, they do not reflect on the past in an abstract way, nor do they plan for the future. And when they encounter a situation, they react to what there is instead of thinking deeply about what that implies. “Therefore, it is clear that dogs do not listen closely when we make a gesture like the one in the study shown, but they evaluate the information we give them based on the help they get to achieve their goals”, said Brian Hare, a scientist of Dognition.
“For example, many family dogs may ignore the gestures they take from their owners when they point incorrectly, and instead use their memory and smell to find something hidden”, he added. In conclusion, if your generally friendly dog is overshadowed by someone, it may be advisable to pay attention to what he is trying to tell you. Did it ever happen to you? Has your dog tried to warn you about someone who is not legit?