Friday, July 30

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Laboratory

Cheeky Canines steal treats behind their owner's backsAs if it wasn't enough that we're connected in someway to every human on the planet it seems that dogs are even more like us than we thought. It will be no surprise to any dog owner that dog' know what people are thinking. But recent research has confirmed that they not only know what we're thinking, they use it to their advantage!
Researchers have found that dogs are more likely to try to sneak a treat when they weren't being watched, and knew how not to give themselves away.
The dogs had been trained and commanded not to eat some treats, and then left in a room with a scientist, and two containers full of the treats they weren't allowed to have! One container had bells on it and rang whenever a dog tried to get a treat from it. The other container was silent. Whenever the dogs were being watched they would should take treats from either container. They were going to get in trouble for it anyway, so it didn't matter. But, as soon as the scientist looked away, the dogs would take treats from the silent bowl only.
bad dog doberman
It seems that the dogs knew what the scientist was thinking. They knew she wouldn't be happy with them sneaking treats, so they tried to do it without giving themselves away. They waited till she was thinking of something else and then snuck a treat behind her back, much the same way that a child would try to sneak a cookie by waiting till mum had left the kitchen. They also realised that the container with bells on would give the game away. In short dogs understood how others perceive their actions, the same way you might think twice before telling your spouse they've put on a little weight.
It's a great example of exactly how un-unique we are on this planet. Even dogs know how to avoid upsetting us. They can tell what we're thinking and use it to get the better of us.
Knowing all of this I feel a lot closer to dogs than I used to; They're more like me that I previously imagined. But I'm also not sure if I can ever trust them ever again.

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