Your Dog Can Tell When Someone Is Mean To You

Illustration for article titled Your Dog Can Tell When Someone Is Mean To You

Dogs are truly loyal creatures. A Japanese study revealed that dogs know if someone is mean to their owners and will even refuse food that person offers to them. Kazuo Fujita, a professor of comparative cognition at Kyoto University, led the research project which consisted of three groups and 18 dogs. They used a role-playing scenario where their owners needed help opening a box. According to AFP it went down like this:

In all three groups, the owner was accompanied by two people whom the dog did not know. In the first group, the owner sought assistance from one of the other people, who actively refused to help. In the second group, the owner asked for, and received, help from one person. In both groups, the third person was neutral and not involved in either helping or refusing to help.

After watching the box-opening scene, the dog was offered food by the two unfamiliar people in the room. Dogs that saw their owner being rebuffed were far more likely to choose food from the neutral observer, and to ignore the offer from the person who had refused to help. Dogs whose owners were helped and dogs whose owners did not interact with either person showed no marked preference for accepting snacks from the strangers.

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“We discovered for the first time that dogs make social and emotional evaluations of people regardless of their direct interest,” said Fujita. “This ability is one of key factors in building a highly collaborative society, and this study shows that dogs share that ability with humans.” The research shows that pups are capable of cooperating socially—a trait only found in a small number of species.

So if someone is a dick to you and tries to offer your dog a steak, he’ll just stick out his paw and say, “No thanks, asshole. Your delicious treat is no good here.” What if your dog is infinitely hangry? I feel like if one of my archenemies offered my dog food, that traitor would ignore me and still take it.


Contact the author at marie.lodi@jezebel.com.

DISCUSSION

motherofunicorns
Mother Of Unicorns

My dad rescued an abused Doberman back in the 70’s (and by rescue I mean stole from the owner because he witnessed the abuse). This dog literally hated and distrusted everyone except for my dad. She got out one day and a neighbor my dad had never met brought her back, she was letting him pet her and everything. My dad & the guy became best friends because he figured if she trusted him he could too. She also loved my mom when she first met her.

Anyways, my aunt was living with my dad and the dog Lady at the time. Lady became ambivalent towards my aunt until one day her boyfriend hit her. Lady chased the guy out of the house and proceeded to jump through the screen door while persuing him. My dad casually followed and Lady pinned the guy down on the front lawn and was waiting for my dad to tell her it was okay to attack. My dad warned the guy to never come back because the next time he wouldn’t stop her. He tried to come back once and Lady was so vicious that he turned back around and left. That dog was a psycho but had the best intuitive instincts according to my dad. She never actually bit anyone but if my dad told her it was okay to attack she absolutely would have.