Study: Your Dog Gives Zero F*%@$ Manipulating You To Get What He Wants
Would those eyes lie to you? Science says yes, and that your dog might be playing you to get what he wants. Spoiler: he’s not one bit ashamed of it!
New research recently published in Animal Cognition suggests that your dog may not be as sweet and innocent as those she’d lead you to believe!
University of Zurich researchers looked at the behaviors of dogs when it came to ‘leading’ people to boxes that were either filled with a preferred food (sausage), a non-preferred treat, or empty. Essentially, the researchers wanted to find out whether or not the dogs would manipulate, or use deceptive behavior, when it came to what boxes they led certain people to.
The humans involved in the study were the dogs’ owners and two other unfamiliar humans. One of the strangers was made out to be seen as cooperative because they gave the dogs food, while the other stranger was made to be seen as ‘competitive’ with the dogs because they did not share food with the dogs. The owners of the dogs were always cooperative, and always shared food with the dogs.
What the researchers found is remarkable and laughable at the same time! Researchers watched what boxes each dog led each human to. In the first round of tests, the dogs led those they viewed as cooperative (owners and the cooperative strangers) to the box that had the favorite treat more often than they led the ‘competitive’ partners to, and more often than researchers would believe could happen by chance.
On the second round of testing, not only did the dogs lead the ‘competitive’ strangers to the box with their preferred food less often, they actually led that stranger to the empty box more than their cooperative partners, much more often than researchers believe could be by chance.
What the researchers believe these results show is that not only are dogs able to figure out that one who shares food may be more willing to share treats, but that one who doesn’t share food may be less willing to share with them. In turn, it seems they take that knowledge and purposely lead their ‘competitor’ to an empty box, as if to say, “Gee. Guess I don’t get anything from this box, but neither do you, buddy!”
This research is fascinating (and not only because it reinforces to us that dogs play us way more than we give them credit for!) because it shows the significant and immediate ability of dogs to adjust their behaviors to their ‘audience,’ if you will, and even incorporate a little bit of deception in order to preserve what they want. Similar previous research on monkeys has shown that it takes them a good bit before they figure out how to ‘work’ the system, and that dogs are capable of figuring it out so quickly is amazing and intriguing.
Not to mention, important to know about the tactics your dog will go to get what she wants! It looks like Puppy Dog Eyes has been proven to scientifically work!