For years we’ve had a feeling this was true but now it’s been backed up by science. Have you ever had a fight with your partner, only for the dog to get aggressive towards them, almost in defence? Or how about when someone you don’t like seeing you at the dog park and your dog goes crazy barking at them? It’s not just you – dogs do turn their noses up at people who are mean to their masters.
A new study published in the Animal Behaviour journal has found that dogs offered food from people who had been nasty to their owners were less likely to take it.
One of the researchers from Kyoto University, Kazuo Fujita, who conducted the study said, “We discovered for the first time that dogs make social and emotional evaluations of people regardless of their direct interest.
“This ability is one of key factors in building a highly collaborative society, and this study shows that dogs share that ability with humans”, she told AFP.
The experiment involved three groups of 18 dogs who were there with their owner who needed help to open a box. In all groups the owner of the dog was joined by two complete strangers. In the first group, the owner walked into the room and asked one of the strangers for help in opening the box, and this unfamiliar person actively refused, reports IFLScience.
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In the second group, the owner asked for help from a stranger and received it. In the third group, both strangers did nothing when the owner asked for help. After letting the dogs watch the situations play out, the two strangers then offered the dog some food. The dogs in the first situation (in which their owners were refused help), were far more likely to ignore the mean stranger and accept food from the neutral person in the room.
For the other two role play scenarios, there was no definitive response for who the dog took snacks from. If the dogs were acting purely out of self-interest, say the researchers, there would have been no significant difference in who the dogs preferred to take food from, but this wasn’t the case – the dogs care. This behaviour is quite rare in the rest of the animal kingdom, and in humans under three.
So next time you’re not treated well by someone, set your dog on them. Only kidding! Just use them for solace in knowing they really do care about you and will take your side.
Tell us, when has your dog protected you?