Abi Wilkinson | Contributing Writer | Monday, 15 June 2015

Dogs Don\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'t Like People Who Are Mean To Their Owners Finds Study

Dogs Don't Like People Who Are Mean To Their Owners Finds Study

The Debrief: Do you love your dog as much as your dog loves you?

There are good reasons why dogs have a reputation as loyal and dedicated pets, according to research conducted at Kyoto University, Japan. Scientists found that pups really don't like people who are unkind to the owners, to the extent that they will turn down food from someone who has snubbed them.

Three groups of 18 dogs were tested in different role-play situations, where their owner needed to try to open a box. In all situations the owners were accompanied by two people who were unfamiliar to the dog. In the first group, the owners asked for help from one of the strangers but were refused. In the second group, they asked for help from one of the strangers and were given it. In both of these two scenarios, the second stranger remained neutral and was not asked for help. In the third group, both strangers remained neutral.

After witnessing the role plays, the dogs were offered food by both of the two unfamiliar people in the room. Dogs who saw one of the strangers refuse to help their owner were significantly more likely to accept food from the other, neutral stranger – and ignore the offer from the person who didn't help their master. Dogs in the other two groups did not show a preference about which stranger they accepted food from.

'We discovered for the first time that dogs make social and emotional evaluations of people regardess of their direct interest,' Fujita, the professor of comparative cognition who oversaw the study, told The Guardian.

'If the dogs were acting solely out of self-interest, there would be no differences among the groups, and a roughly equal number of animals would have accepted food from each person. This ability is one of the key factors in building a highly collaborative society, and this study shows that dogs share that ability with humans.'

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Picture: Francesca Allen

Tags: Animals