Study Suggests Our Dogs May Know When We Are Lying to Them
Better tell the truth!
Don't tell your dog, you are going to be right back, when you're headed for a three-day trip to Disney World without them. A recent study shows that dogs know when you're lying to them. No word on whether they hold grudges, though.
A team of researchers at the University of Vienna had a question: Humans can frequently tell if people are lying to them, could dogs do the same? After all, dogs and humans have been living together for a very, very longtime (possibly up to 40,000 years!) and during those eons together, humans have undoubtedly tried to pass a few whoppers on to their pups. The questions the scientists wanted to know was did the dogs know they were being lied to? Turns out, dogs may be on to your dirty tricks.
For their study, which was published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the researchers found 260 very good dog volunteers of various breeds to test their theory. According to science news clearinghouse, Phys.org, the dogs were presented with two bowls and a human stranger pointed them to the bowl that held a hidden treat. As the dogs followed the human's advice, they were pointed towards the bowls that had hidden treats. The more they trusted the humans' advice, the more treats they got. Once that trust was formed, the researchers switched things up. As the patient dogs watched, per Phys.org, "an unknown human [would move] the treat from one bowl to another while a second unknown human watched; in other cases, the second human was absent from the switch-up."
The researchers then started over again, putting the dogs back in a room with two bowls and the hidden treats, but this time they had the second person from the switch-up try to give the dogs advice about where to find the hidden treats. The researchers found that the dogs were suspicious. If the human had not been present when the treats were moved from bowl to bowl, the very good dogs would ignore their advice. After all, if the human wasn't there, why would they know which bowl had the treat? Even more tellingly, half of the dogs completely ignored the human's advice when the dog knew that the human was pointing at the wrong bowl, because they had seen with their very own eyes, the treat going in the other bowl. The researchers saw that as evidence that the dogs knew the humans were lying to them and weren't falling for that nonsense.
It just goes to show that dogs know humans very well, and the next time you're going to Disney World, just tell the pup you'll bring them a treat.