Scientific study: Can dogs detect a lie?

Scientific study Can dogs detect a lie
Pexels / Dom Bucci

Promised your dog a tasty treat knowing he wouldn’t get it? Your deposit may be in jeopardy. Turns out, dogs probably know when we’re cheating on them. Austrian scientists have proven that dogs read the non-verbal signals we send when we stray from the truth. According to research, dogs can tell the difference between consciously and unconsciously deceiving. How does the performance of dogs compare to that of human babies, great apes and cats?

Your dog knows you’re cheating on him. The research results leave no doubt

Austrian researchers have published an interesting study in the scientific journal Proceedings of the Royal Society. They show that our four-legged friends can tell when we are cheating on them. The research sheds light on the dog-human bond and the boundless trust that four-legged friends have in us.

The behavior of dogs was compared in the study to that of human children, cats and various species of primates. It turns out that it is the dogs in these groups that show the most trust in humans.

Dog food experiment showed dogs know when people are lying

The researchers studied 260 dogs. The experiment involved a human acting as a “communicator” and two opaque containers stood in front of the participants. One contained food and the other was empty. The task of the communicator was to show the dog where the food is. To do this, he touched the full container while looking at the dog and said, “Look how good it is. During this introduction to the study, the dogs gained confidence with the previously unknown human.

The next stage of the experiment had two variations. In one, the communicator deliberately strayed from the truth, and in the other, unconsciously. In the first variant, the contents of one container were poured into another. The man saw it happen. The dog was also in the room at the time and was following the food. However, the communicator was supposed to trick the dog into thinking the food was still in the original container.

In the unconscious variant, the communicator has left the room. The dog, however, left it in and the contents of one container were poured into another before his eyes. When the man returned, he acted as if the food had not moved. The change had been made in his absence, so he didn’t know what had happened. It should be noted that cats, human children and monkeys instinctively chose the container indicated by the “liar”, allowing themselves to be deceived.

Surprising results: dogs trust humans more than their own senses

What were the results of the experiment? It turns out that when the communicator was present in the room during the meal and lied, the dogs did not trust him. The man showed that the food was in an empty container, but the animals believed more in their judgment. Two-thirds of the dogs couldn’t be fooled and headed for the full bowl.

The situation is different in the case of unconscious misrepresentation. When the human was not present in the room when pouring the food and was confident that it was where it was at first, the dogs trusted it more. Half of the animals tested chose an empty container, even though they saw the moment it was emptied. It was enough to trust a man to stop believing in his own senses.

The behavior of the dog is unique. Researchers thought these animals would behave like children or monkeys choosing a box full of food. The trust that dogs have in humans is explained by the evolution of these animals during the process of domestication.

“This study reminds us that dogs are watching us, seeing our behaviors, and learning from us all the time,” says Dr. Monique Udell, a behaviorist at Oregon State University.

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