Have you ever noticed just how easy it is for your dog the size up somebody? As humans, we often have a difficulty ‘judging a book by its cover’ but it seems as if dogs are able to do it quite easily. Perhaps it is because they have such amazing senses that allow them to do everything from tracking people over many miles, sniffing out drugs or bombs or protecting first responders.
It seems as if the amazing abilities of dogs is not only limited to those working factors but they are also able to recognize what is inside of an individual. This is according to a study that was published in the journal, Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. According to that study, a dog can sense when a person is being mean to another person.
This is the information they apparently used to respond in that way:
“Dogs are known to consistently follow human pointing gestures. In this study, we asked whether dogs ‘automatically’ do this or whether they flexibly adjust their behavior depending upon the reliability of the pointer, demonstrated in an immediately preceding event”
There were a number of scenarios that the dogs went through. In one of the scenarios, the dog was present when a volunteer was helping someone trying to open a jar. In one case, the volunteer was passive and in the other, they refused to help.
When the scenarios played out, those same volunteers tried to give the dog a treat.
The person who was passive was just as likely to give the dog a treat successfully as the person who helped open the jar. If the volunteer was nice, however, the dog was much more likely to take the treat from their hand.
On the other hand, the dog was likely to ignore the volunteer that was mean and didn’t offer to help the owner with the jar. In other words, they didn’t trust those who were jerks.
When you think about the fact that they could have gotten the treat from the volunteer, it really says a lot. It also means that they can judge humans much better than humans can judge humans.
“These results suggest that not only dogs are highly skilled at understanding human pointing gestures, but also they make inferences about the reliability of a human who presents cues and consequently modify their behavior flexibly depending on the inference.”
Have you ever had a dog sitting and staring at you? If they look like they are judging you, you might be sizing up the situation accurately.
It might be a good idea to watch your P’s and Q’s when you are around dogs as well as children. You may also want to start watching how your dog reacts around other people if you have any doubts about them.