Getting the'side-eye' look from your dog can certainly make it seem like they are judging you, and a new study suggests they really could be. Researchers at the University of Vienna found that pooches can tell when we dangle a treat out of their reach to be cruel, or when it is just an accident. What's more, they also act differently towards us depending on our perceived intention, as they appear more patient with the clumsy than the mean. Only a few animals have previously been shown to be able to make social evaluations of humans in this manner, including chimpanzees, capuchin monkeys and African grey parrots. The team recruited 96 pet dogs for the experiment, and each was presented with one of two scenarios.
Dogs may have the ability to understand when a person is intentionally doing something, such as giving them a treat, compared to when something is done by accident. The findings suggest that canines have cognitive abilities, a trait seen in humans. Researchers observed 51 dogs who were separated from humans by a glass partition wall - and put them in three conditions: unwilling, unable-clumsy and unable-blocked. In the first condition, the one where humans could give them food, but intentionally changed their mind and put it down in front of themselves, dogs took longer to approach. They also laid down more and did not move their tails as much.
Dogs have basic mind-reading abilities and can tell whether or not human actions are intentional, a new study shows. Researchers in Germany compared dogs' spontaneous reactions to intentional and unintentional human behaviour with pieces of food passed through a glass barrier. They found dogs responded differently depending on whether the actions of the experimenter were deliberate or not. The results suggest canines can master a basic component of the Theory of Mind – the ability to read others' intentions - which was previously regarded as uniquely human. Theory of mind (TOM) refers to the ability to understand the desires, intentions and beliefs of others.
When 3D animated balls on a computer screen defy certain laws of physics, dogs act in a way that suggests they feel like their eyes are deceiving them. Pet dogs stare for longer and their pupils widen if virtual balls start rolling on their own rather than being set in motion by a collision with another ball. This suggests that the animals are surprised that the balls didn't move the way they had expected them to, says Christoph Völter at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna. "This is the starting point for learning," says Völter. "You have expectations about the environment – regularities in your environment that are connected to physics – and then something happens that doesn't fit. And now you pay attention. And now you try to see what's going on."
When humans have a bad attitude, their canine companions might not be so quick to follow their lead. In a recent study, researchers conducted a series of experiments to see the effects of human emotions on a dog's response to pointing cues. While adding a positive expression to the gesture wasn't found to increase a dog's ability to locate a treat, the dogs hesitated before exploring when responding to a person with a negative disposition. When humans have a bad attitude, their canine companions might not be so quick to follow their lead. In a recent study, researchers found that adding a positive expression to pointing didn't increase a dog's ability to locate a treat, but the dogs hesitated before exploring when responding to a person with a negative disposition Researchers studied the response of dogs to an unfamiliar adult gesturing toward two covered bowls.