Having dogs or cats? Both are awesome but many people who like one doesn’t prefer keeping the other. Nevertheless, I am considering keeping both, a dog and a cat. This article is going to be only about dogs though. The reason for writing this article is very interesting. Apparently, dogs can recognize whether a person is unreliable. Surprised? Well, they have been living with us humans for some 15000 years, scientists believe. So, they might have learned some new skills, right?
You know that dogs are able to understand some of our commands through gestures. If you point with your finger somewhere, your dog goes there and explores the place. Also, if you throw away a stick, or ball, your dog goes there and brings it to you. This is already known. What we didn’t know is that dogs can also understand when you’re being a jerk. How can this happen when a dog chases its own tail? Well, maybe they chase their tail to scatch it.
In an experiment, Dogs appeared to ignore the persons who lied to them. The study “Do dogs follow behavioral cues from an unreliable human?” is led by Akiko Takaoka and his team from the Kyoto University in Japan and is published in the SpringerLink during March 2015.
This study consisted of three rounds. Participants, experimenters, would or wouldn’t point in the direction of food for 34 dogs. During the first round, the participants pointed to the place containing the food. During the second round, they pointed to a container which didn’t have food in it. During the third round, the participants who had pointed to the empty container now pointed to the container which had food in it. But the dog ignored the participant. This means that the dog used its first experience to understand and evaluate whether a person is reliable or not.
After the nonreliable participant, another experiment phase started with the same dog but with a different experimenter. When the new experimenter pointed towards a container, the dog was surprisingly interested in that new person. This means that they have sophisticated cognitive intelligence, at least more sophisticated than we’ve generally thought. Takaoka said for the BBC that:
Dogs have more sophisticated social intelligence than we thought. This social intelligence evolved selectively in their long life history with humans.
The same logic is used when a stranger misbehaves or behaves with the dog’s owner. If they’re being rude or aggressive, the dog will probably ignore the commands and surely keep an eye on the person. But they have nothing against a new stranger who comes to meet its owner. If they behave well and offer food to the dog, everything is ok.
As for the above-mentioned study, the leading researcher, Takaoka, says that now they want to test wolves and try to understand whether the domestication of dogs has influenced their intelligence, and how.