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Dogs Are Natural Bad-People Detectors, According To Science

Dogs Are Natural Bad-People Detectors, According To Science

*X-Files theme music* The proof is out there!

We’re huge nerds about dogs. It’s our cup of tea. Especially when we stumble upon bits of information that continues to show why dogs are better than we are. Imagine our lack of shock when we happened upon this case study surrounding dogs and how they pick up behavioral cues from unreliable humans. Emphasis on lack of shock.

At Kyoto University in Japan, scientist Akiko Takaoka joined colleagues in the curiosity behind the question would a dog know if a human lied to them? Specifically, would they be able to tell the difference between an honest person and a deceptive person?


Their experiment was set up in two parts with each part having three phases.

From the experiment abstract:

In Experiment 1, Phase 1, an experimenter pointed at the baited container; the second container was empty. In Phase 2, after showing the contents of both containers to the dogs, the experimenter pointed at the empty container. In Phase 3, the procedure was exactly as in Phase 1. We compared the dogs’ responses to the experimenter’s pointing gestures in Phases 1 and 3. Most dogs followed pointing in Phase 1, but many fewer did so in Phase 3.
In Experiment 2, dogs followed a new experimenter’s pointing in Phase 3 following replication of procedures of Phases 1 and 2 in Experiment 1. This ruled out the possibility that dogs simply lost motivation to participate in the task in later phases.

Pretty much these doggos were tricked into thinking treats were available by one person, their faith in that human dwindled, but hallelujah! A new person came and the doggos did a factory reset and gave the new human a shot. This shows how aware dogs are when it comes to gestures we make and the consistency of cues in relation to reliability. How incredible is that?

While there are also studies out in the universe that suggest dogs live in the moment, would you want to risk that possibility of hindering your relationship with your furbaby? Dog treats for thought!

Want to learn more about how dogs are empaths? Check out our blog article The Science of Dogs & Our Happiness by clicking here.
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