While we don’t always understand dogs, it turns out that they understand us more than we ever realized. We’re not talking about dogs that have been taught how to respond to commands like sit, stay or roll over. We’re talking about understanding us at a much deeper level.
Studies in the past have shown that when a dog owner points at something the dog will run to it. Therefore, researchers have come to believe that dogs understand human gestures. They also believe that when the gestures aren’t consistent, dogs can become stressed out.
Recently, there was a study done in Japan by Akiko Takaoka of Kyoto University that took the knowledge that dogs respond to human gestures one step further. Researchers wanted to know if a dog would trust someone who lied to him. The experiment took place in three parts.
First, dog owners pointed to a dog bowl filled with food. The dog would run to the bowl. Then, the same person would point to another bowl, but this time there wasn’t any food in it. The dog would run to the bowl, being tricked. A third time, the same person would point to a bowl, but this time, the dog didn’t run to it, not trusting the pointed hand.
This study was conducted among 34 dogs, and the same thing happened every single time. This shows that the dog originally trusted the person, but after being tricked, no longer trusted that person. In other words, the dog stopped trusting the person when he had been lied to.
It’s amazing and wonderful to know that dogs can tell when they’ve been lied to, but it turns out that dogs can also tell when their owners haven’t been treated well by other people.
An experiment was conducted where dog owners asked other people for help. After the owner asked for help, the other person would offer the dog a treat. If the person had responded in a helpful way, or even if the person hadn’t responded at all, the dog would take the treat, but if the person had been rude or aggressive to their owner, the dog wouldn’t take the treat!
There was another similar study done where dog owners asked for help, but this time the owners asked 2 different groups of people for help. The dogs weren’t offered a treat, but they avoided the people who were rude or mean to their owner.
This is amazing and proves that dogs knew not to trust the people who weren’t nice. If your dog turns down a treat, there’s probably a good reason for it!
If you have a dog, be sure not to lie to him, or he’ll stop trusting you. If your dog avoids your friends, perhaps he’s noticing that they’re not being nice to you. Your dog may be picking up on signals that you’re missing.
Do you have a dog? What are some ways you know your dog understands you?