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Ask any dog owner about how smart their pet is, and you’re certain to hear more than one humorous response about how endearingly mindless they can be at times. But on the other hand, you’ll find that most owners regularly claim that their dogs are smart, attentive, and highly responsive.
Science Proves Dogs Can Recognize Dishonest People
Studies have already shown that dogs
are capable of distinguishing positive
and negative emotions from facial
expressions, can feel jealousy,
and process speech in the same way
as humans, among other intelligence-
based skills. But one recent study
reveals a surprisingly complex skill
that dogs have: they are able to
recognize dishonesty in humans.
A team led by Akiko Takaoka of Kyoto
University in Japan set out to test this
capability in dogs. The experiment used 24
dogs and operated under the assumption
that dogs will reliably go in the direction
that a human points to. In the first phase
of the study, researchers would set out
two containers, one of which hid a treat.
The researcher would then lead the dog to
the container with the treat, which all the
dogs followed and were subsequently
rewarded with the treat.
In the second phase of the study, the
experimenters began to test if the dogs
would take note of their dishonesty.
After showing the dogs that one
container had a treat and the other
didn’t, the researcher would then point
to the empty container and encourage
the canine to go in that direction. This
established a basis for the dogs to lose
trust in the researcher.
The study came to fruition in the final
stage, in which the researchers once again
pointed to the container with a treat. But
surprisingly, only 8 percent of the dogs
reliably followed where the human was
pointing. Since the final phase had taken
place after the dogs had already been
tricked in the second phase, they no longer
seemed to place trust in the researchers
pointing to the containers.
A second study revealed that dogs have a
higher level of social intelligence than
previously thought, and theorized that
canines have selectively evolved to be more
intelligent due to the species’ deep connection
with humans. By comparison, research shows
that humans aren’t able to reliably discern a
person’s trustworthiness until they are 5 years
old. This is a surprising development in the
knowledge of dog intelligence, as they are
typically considered to have mental abilities
close to that of a 2 or 3 year old human.
These developments in understanding
canine intelligence are fascinating to
consider. As we have spent more time
with dogs, humans have always had
sneaking suspicions that dogs might be
smarter than they seem at first glance. If
we are able to continue understanding
how far a dog’s intelligence and
comprehension goes, we will be able to
forge deeper and stronger connections
with our animal companions.