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We’ve always had dogs in our home, as part of our family, so it’s no surprise that they understand what’s going on in the house and with the humans they are tasked with watching over. Now there is a study that verifies what we’ve always known. Dogs know when we are lying and trying to play them.
Dogs know when humans are trying to trick them. Ever hold a doggie treat in one hand and try to make your dog guess which hand it’s in? Your dog always goes for the hand with the treat, right? Of course he does. And I bet you thought it was because he could smell it. No! The study shows that dogs are smarter than that. They can figure out when you are tricking them.
Psychologist William Roberts of Canada’s Dalhousie University and his colleagues ran a series of tests to see if dogs are as smart as their owners think they are or if it is just that the owners want them to be. The results were reported to Animal Behavior Process journal. They are interesting and showed that canines are particularly sensitive to human cues. They tested 16 dogs in a park near London, Ontario.
First, the researchers presented the dogs with two covered buckets, one empty, one loaded with treats. In some trials, the same tester would always signal to the dogs the empty bucket. In other trials, another tester would signal the full bucket.
The dogs started out running to the bucket indicated by testers in both trials, but within five attempts, the dogs figured out a little less than half the time to run to the bucket not indicated by the “deceptive” tester.
Apparently, the dogs did much better in these tests than chimps did in similar tests years ago. So does that mean dogs are actually smarter than chimps or are they just more in tune with human beings?
When the researchers took the humans out of the equation and did the tests with boxes either full of treats or empty, the dogs learned quickly which was which. That would make it appear that they are just smarter than we might have given them credit for. But then, they didn’t have my doberman in the mix.
They compared a dogs intelligence with that of a human 2-year-old. They also say they are about as manipulative. Which seems about right to me considering the silly things I’ve seen dogs do.
Sadly, in the end, researches describe humans as merely the tools through which dogs get food and toys, nothing more. I find that hard to accept though, as I’m sure most pet owners do. Of course, my animals do seem more interested in me when they are hungry.
So what do you think? This study shows dogs understand human deception. Do you think that’s pretty accurate or way off base?