Most dog owners wouldn’t be surprised to know that their canine companions can sense human emotions. Research shows dogs can recognize the difference between an angry face and a happy face.
Now new research from Japan’s Kyoto University shows that dogs can sense when a person is untrustworthy. The researchers based their experiment on the fact that when a human points at something, such as the location of food, a stick or a ball, the dog will go and explore what the person is pointing to.
The scientists took 34 dogs and gave them three rounds of pointing. In round one, the researcher pointed to food hidden in a container and the dog responded. In the second round, he “fooled” the dog by pointing to an empty container. For round three, the researcher again pointed to the container with food, but now the dog didn’t respond to the cue.
Lead researcher Akiko Takaoka believes the dogs relied on their experience with the researcher to determine if they were reliable. Next, they replicated round one with a new researcher and got the same results.
The study abstract points out “These results suggest that dogs….make inferences about the reliability of a human who presents cues and consequently modify their behavior flexibly depending on the inference.”
The lesson? Don’t mess with your dog by trying to fool him because he knows!!