By Jeff Parsons
Humans and dogs have lived side-by-side for centuries, and new research has given us even more insight into the feelings of man’s best friend .
Researchers at Kyoto University’s department of psychology in Japan have worked out that dogs – as well as some species of monkey – have an almost human-like sense of morality.
During a series of experiments, they found that our canine chums were less likely to interact with anyone they perceive as acting rudely or unfairly.
The Japanese team set up three experiments and documented their findings in the journal Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews .
One experiment involved watching a dog watching two people (one of which was its owner) arrive with three balls each. One asked the other for their balls and, in some cases, that person obliged – handing over all their balls. Next, the person who had given up their balls asked for them back – again, sometimes the person obliged and other times they declined.
Following this exchange, the dogs were offered treats by both parties. And the researchers found that the dogs were less inclined to accept treats from the person they had observed as being selfish.
The researchers claim both the dogs and the capuchin monkeys that were also tested, made social judgements similar to those that a human might make.
“Studies have shown that infants react negatively to agents who display harmful intentions toward others, and to those who behave unfairly. We describe experimental studies of capuchin monkeys’ and pet dogs’ differential reactions to people who are helpful or unhelpful in third-party contexts,” wrote James R. Anderson, who led the study.
“We conclude by proposing some questions for studies of nonhuman species’ third party-based social evaluations.”
Meanwhile, plenty of technological gadgets have promised to decode your pooch’s true feelings.
Last month, a “smart dog collar” launched on Kickstarter with the aim of measuring your dog’s daily activity to work out what it was feeling.
“We will be able to use this device to measure activity that, until now, could only be judged in a subjective way by owners at home, or with us during a consultation,” said Dr. Arnaud Muller, a European Veterinary Specialist in Dermatology.
“What this provides is a really precise measurement which, based on your dog’s behaviour, gives tangible and reliable figures.
“This means we could even use it to support the assessment of treatment.”
Source: The Earth Child