A new study from Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews has found that dogs can detect when other people are rude to the dog's owner.
In the investigation, dogs watched on as their owner 'struggled' to open a container. Paid actors then entered the scene where despite being asked to help, they refused.
They then played out a second scenario where this time the paid actor was passive.
After the two situations played out, both offered the dog a treat. However, the dog preferred the actor who was passive.
When they tested a similar scenario which included both an actor helping the struggling owner and an actor being passive, the dog had no preference when offered a treat.
The findings suggest that the dog could sense when someone was being rude - the instance where the actor refused to help the dog's owner.
Researchers tested the theory with a similar examination. This time, with capuchin monkeys.
Two actors were required to hold three balls each. The first actor, actor A, asked for the balls from the second actor, actor B, who happily obliged. Actor B then asked for them back. When actor A returned the balls, the monkeys had no preference. However, when actor A did not return them, the monkeys gravitated towards actor B.
Results suggest that the animals could detect unfriendly behaviour.
"If somebody is behaving antisocially, they probably end up with some sort of emotional reaction to it," says Anderson.
"Chances are that if these animals can detect cooperative tendencies in human actors, they also can in their fellow primates."
That still doesn't explain why they'll chew my favourite blanket...
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After hearing about a study that proves one-year-olds can sense when someone is being rude, psychologist James Anderson got the idea of doing similar research on dogs. He then executed a test where people acted impolitely in front of dogs to see how they responded.
In the experiment, a dog watched their owner struggle to open a container with a toy inside. After "failing" to do so, the owner would present the container to one actor for help, who would either refuse or help. In other words, they would have some sort of emotional reaction. Then a second scenario would take place, where the owner would be struggling to open the container and the actor would be entirely passive.
In the situation where one actor assisted while the other one was passive, they both presented the dog a treat and the pet had no preference, according to New Scientist. However, when one actor refused to help while the other one was passive, the dog gravitated toward the passive contender. This means that the dog did not sense the difference between someone helping versus someone doing nothing, but understood when the actor actually expressed a rude behaviour in the situation.
has proven that dogs negatively evaluate people who refuse to help their owners or, in other words, express a rude behavior.