Have you ever felt judged by a dog? We have, especially when it involves trying to get a dog to be our friend but they’re having none of it.
It turns out judgmental dogs are a thing, though. Scientists from Kyoto University completed a test of the extent of dogs social cognition, and it turns out they recognize unfriendly gestures towards their owners and hold grudges.
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Scientists recruited 54 dogs and their owners to partake in the study — but on the sly they didn’t tell them what the study was for. The owners were given a container that they had to pretend to struggle to open, and then an actor in the room would have to help and open it first time — or walk away.
The actor and owner then offered the dog a treat at the same time to see who the "preferred person" was. You can guess what happened — if the actor had been helpful and opened the container, the dog took their treat, but if they hadn’t helped, they took the treat from the other person.
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The dogs were able to judge individuals based on observed behavior. If your dog appears to be watching your social interactions, he clearly knows that someone is treating you badly and he probably doesn’t like it one little bit. Are you hearing this? Your dog probably has a "highly developed social competence," and a "core morality." Your dog is basically human; he knows everything. Kind of.
The research, published in the journal of Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, was an extension of an 2011 experiment in which dogs preferred actors who gave food to homeless people, over those who did not. So not only does your dog gage social interactions like a pro, they also have great morals.
If you need us, we’re just off to purchase a dog so we can never hang out with mean people ever again. Ciao.
This post was written by Alyss Bowen. For more, check out our sister site The Debrief.