Forget turning to your best friends when you're unsure about the new guy you're dating—the best judge of his character could actually be your dog. A new Japanese study shows that dogs can sense when humans mistreat their masters.
Researchers from Kyoto University tested 18 canines in three scenarios, allowing the animals to watch as their owner asked a stranger for help opening a box. In the first scenario, strangers refused to aid the owner. In the second, strangers came to the owner's rescue. And in the third, strangers remained neutral, neither helping nor refusing aid.
Afterward, the strangers approached the dogs with treats, and the researchers watched as the animals refused to take food from the strangers who had snubbed their owners. They happily lapped up treats from the helpful and neutral parties, however. Have you ever noticed that your dog just doesn't want anything to do with a new guy you're dating? Well, it could be that he's deliberately ignoring Mr. Wrong to show his disdain for how he treats you.
"We discovered for the first time that dogs make social and emotional evaluations of people regardless of their direct interest," said Kazuo Fujita, the lead researcher. Additional study details are forthcoming in the latest issue of Animal Behaviour, set to publish at the end of the month. But for now, know this: You can trust your faithful pooch's instincts as much as your own.
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