Every dog owner will know this but it turns out man’s best friend is very good at knowing if you are trustworthy.
A fascinating new study has revealed just how quickly a dog will drop their trust in you if you try to fool them.
But the good news is it does not take them long to trust a new human.
The study, published in the journal Animal Cognition, by a team led by Akiko Takaoka of Kyoto University in Japan.
© Provided by Associated Newspapers (Ireland) Limited, t/a dmg Media IrelandThey put 34 pooches through three rounds of tests.
In the first round the experimenters accurately pointed to where food was hidden in a container.
But in the second round they pointed to an empty container.
In the third round the same experimenter again pointed to the container with food.
But now the dog did not respond to the experimenter’s cue.
That suggests, says Takaoka, that the dogs could use their experience of the experimenter to assess whether they were a reliable guide.
© Provided by Associated Newspapers (Ireland) Limited, t/a dmg Media IrelandFollowing these rounds, a new experimenter replicated the first phase again and guess what?
The dogs trusted them and followed the gesture.
The report notes: ‘These results suggest that not only dogs are highly skilled at understanding human pointing gestures, but also they make inferences about the reliability of a human who presents cues and consequently modify their behaviour flexibly depending on the inference.’
Takaoka added: ‘Dogs have more sophisticated social intelligence than we thought. This social intelligence evolved selectively in their long life history with humans.’