A recent study that was conducted by Japanese researchers shows that dogs dislike people that misbehave towards their owners. In fact, most of the dogs that were tested, didn’t even eat food that was offered to them by those people.
So, the results show that dogs have developed over the years some mechanisms to evaluate a human based on his social behaviour, a trait that exists –or was considered to exist until now - only in a small number of species, including humans and other primates.
The research team – where the psychology professor Kazuo Fujita was in charge – at the Universe of Kyoto, conducted an experiment in 3 teams, each consisting of 18 dogs. They used the role plays method where the owners had to open a box.
In all 3 teams, the owner was escorted by two people that the dog had never met before.
In the first team, the owner asked help from one of the two people that were with him and that one person had to refuse.
In the second team, the owner asked help from both of the two people but only one had to offer to help open the box.
In both the first two teams, the third person did not get involved. No help was offered and none was refused.
Also, no one else came close to the dog owner from the third team.
After the whole role playing was done, the two people that were in the room had to offer food to the dog.
Surprisingly enough, the dogs that witnessed their owner being rejected were less likely to eat food from the person that did not get involved while they chose to totally ignore the one that refused to aid.
On the other team though, the dogs whose owners received help showed some penchant to the food that was offered to them even though the two people were total strangers.
Dr. Fujita explained: “We ascertained for the first time that dogs proceed to social and emotional human evaluation despite their direct interests”.
If the dogs acted exclusively based on their best interest then there would be no differences between the two teams and an – almost – equal number of canines would eat the food.
This ability is one of the most important factors that contribute to the building of a society with the element of cooperation and this research shows that dogs share this ability with humans.
At this point it is worth noting that the said ability is not fully developed to humans until the age of 3.
Japanese researchers are known from conducting all kinds of innovative and yet peculiar studies and the research above seems not only pretty interesting because of the canine psychological behavior that puts to the test, but it also opens new ways and ideas to study the way that our for legged friends work and live their lives side to side with ours.