According to People, Kyoto University researchers have found that dogs “are extremely sensitive to social signals from humans,” and they learn to “stop trusting” people who “behave negatively” to their owners.
In the study, 54 dogs were divided into three groups. In each test, the dog owner pretended to be having trouble removing the lid of a “transparent jar.” In each situation a bystander would either help, not help, or “spontaneously turn away” from the owner before they were asked to help. There was also a neutral bystander in each variation.
Once the interaction was finished, the bystander and neutral bystander offered the dog the same treat at the same time. The dog would have to pick which person to take the treat from.
When the bystander helped or turned away from the owner without being asked to help, the dogs “were significantly biased against the actor in the ‘non-helper’ condition.”
The study showed that dogs could determine when people are unkind, and then behave accordingly.
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