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Study Finds That Dogs Think Mean People Suck
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It seems as though “Love me, Love my owner” is a dog’s motto – at least, that’s what Japanese scientists believe after testing dogs’ reactions to people who are rude to their mom or dad.
A recent study out of Tokyo, Japan proves what I’ve always known to be true. My dog has my back. Yes, he can look down his snout with the best of them and proves he is my true BFF by showing his disdain to those who treat me badly.
Researchers at Kyoto University studied the reactions of three groups of 18 dogs where their pet parents were treated with different levels of respect by role-playing strangers.
The scenario for each of the three groups unfolded with the owner needing to open a box and seeking help from two individuals that the dog did not know.
In one group, the owner’s request was met with active refusal by one of the strangers. In the second group the owner did receive help from one of the strangers. In both groups, the second stranger remained completely neutral – not helping, but not refusing to help. In the third group, neither stranger interacted at all with the owner.
Now the test of Rover’s loyalty. After watching how his best buddy was treated, the clearly observant pooch was offered food by the two strangers from each of the three scenarios. Dogs that saw their owner rebuffed were far more likely to ignore the offender and accept food from the neutral observer or the individual who offered assistance.
What does all this mean? The study findings prove that dogs are capable of co-operating socially – something found in very few species beyond humans and some primates.
According to Kazuo Fujita, the University’s professor of comparative cognition, “We discovered for the first time that dogs make social and emotional evaluations of people regardless of their direct interest”.
Fujita points out that this characteristic is a key factor in building a highly collaborative society, and is a trait present in children from the age of about three. So when we call them our “fur kids”, we aren’t too far off the mark!
What’s really interesting is that not all primates demonstrate this same empathetic behavior. A similar study showed while tufted capuchin monkeys reacted similarly to how the dogs behaved, chimps didn’t care who was doling out the food as long as there was a direct benefit to them. Hmmm, perhaps our evolution from apes isn’t quite as complete as we’d thought!
The study will appear in the June 2015 science journal “Animal Behaviour”.
[Source: Yahoo News]