Those of us who like horror movies have learned to trust our dogs, but if they don’t get out of the house, they’re likely to be persecuted. When a dog starts barking at a particular object, it warns the owner of its danger.
Although dogs look silly hunting their own tails, they are intelligent creatures with a high social awareness. Studies have shown that dogs can perceive human emotions and distinguish between happy and angry expressions. When a dog shouts at a new character, it is not because there is a monster in the film, but because the dog is afraid. Moviegoers trust the bad dogs on screen, and they believe they can sense evil people in real life.
The study, published in the journal Animal Cognition, looked at this trend. When a person is considered unreliable, the dog stops following their cues. We use our feelings to believe whether the person was trustworthy or not, but when they are determined by our instincts and are unreliable, dogs stop following his cues, according to the study.
The 34 dogs were tested in three rounds, with three different levels of trustworthiness, one for each person and three for the dog.
In the first round, the researchers pointed to a container containing food for the dogs, in the next round to an empty container and the puppies were misled. The dogs understood the pointing gestures easily, but when the owner pointed to a food ball, they ran to find out what he had pointed to. When the subject pointed at the container of food in a third round, the dog ignored the cue and classified him as an unreliable guide. In the next round, the puppy was deceived about the contents of the containers and the direction of its owner.
The second set of three rounds began when a new experimenter entered the ring and the dogs followed the cues of people with new interests. Takaoka said he was surprised that dogs devalued human reliability so quickly. Social intelligence has evolved and dogs follow cues from people for new interest, he said, so he’s not surprised.
John Bradshaw, from the University of Bristol in the UK, who was not involved in the study, said the study underlined that dogs like things that are predictable. The next step, he said, is to test closely related species such as wolves, and this study will examine the relationship between dogs and other animals such as wolves and coyotes.
Staying in the dark about what is going to happen can make them stressed, aggressive and scared. When life becomes erratic, they look for activities and signs of danger, such as barking.
As a result, Bradshaw says dogs whose owners disagree often have behavioral problems. Dog owner Victoria Standen was not surprised by the research: she owns a collie named Cassie and her dog is described as an “information junkie,” which is why the dog was fascinated by her new experimenter and immediately wanted to trust him.
When Cassie went for a walk, she sat at the intersection waiting to see where she was going, so they decided to go that way.
According to Bradshaw, dogs are increasingly proving to be intelligent, but with a different type of intelligence than humans. Dogs are very sensitive to human behavior and have less prejudice, “she said. They’re looking to see if it’s okay to run away, Standen said, and Cassie trusts that person even if she’s proven unreliable.
Dogs don’t thoughtlessly follow what a random person tells them, said Brian Hare, scientific director of Dognition. When dogs get into a situation, he added, they respond to what is there and they think about what that means. They live in the present, so they don’t reflect the past in an abstract way, “he said.
So many family dogs ignore a gesture when shown the wrong way and use their memory to find a hidden treat. How humans treat dogs says a lot about them, and that means they can sniff out killers and evil twins. They assess the information provided to them as to how reliable it is to help them achieve their goals.
If you meet someone who is inexplicably aggressive towards your dog and has stress on a particular person, it can be a negative reflection of that person’s character. When dogs seem to love someone for no apparent reason, that may not be a sign of a trustworthy character, according to researchers.
Dogs may not be ghosts or villains in real life, but they can help their owners find friendlier, more reliable friends. Further research is needed to investigate the extent of social awareness in dogs, and the study is promising. As if our best friend, the man, had not already done enough for his people.