According to a new study, it turns out that dogs can actually sniff out a liar – so yes, anytime you get suspicious of people after your dog doesn’t like them, they’ve been right. We knew it!
Research at Kyoto University in Japan has revealed that dogs can suss out dishonesty. Scientists pointed to various different containers, some filled with food and some without. At first, they pointed to a tub full of food, which the dog involved immediately darted to.
They repeated the experiment with an empty container – the dog ran but found nothing. So, when they tried to encourage the dog to go to the container a third time, it was reluctant and refused to move.
As the study explains, ‘Dogs are known to consistently follow human pointing gestures. In this study, we asked whether dogs ‘automatically’ do this or whether they flexibly adjust their behaviour depending upon the reliability of the pointer, demonstrated in an immediately preceding event’.
The study was repeated with 34 different dogs and the same pattern emerged each time – so yep, dogs know when you’re being dishonest based on previous experience.
It concluded: ‘These results suggest that not only dogs are highly skilled at understanding human pointing gestures, but also they make inferences about the reliability of a human who presents cues and consequently modify their behaviour flexibly depending on the inference.’
According to John Bradshaw of the University of Bristol, it also highlights how dogs prefer events in their lives to be predictable.