Have you ever wondered why your usually friendly, sociable dog who is pleasant to everyone felt uneasy and restless around a stranger you saw at the park? Apparently, dogs can sense a person’s true intentions.
A study conducted by a researcher named Akiko Takaoka at Kyoto University in Japan supports that dogs can sense a person’s intentions. Further, dogs will outright show dislike to anyone who they believe is untrustworthy.
Using a series of non-harmful experiments, Takaoka’s study was designed to determine if dogs adjust their behavior based on the level of trust they feel towards a person. For example, one of the experiments was to test if dogs always follow a person’s pointing gestures.
For this experiment, Takaoka tested 34 dogs. First, each dog would be brought into a room. Then, a person would point to a container that was either filled or not filled with food.
When the experiment began, a person pointed towards a dish filled with food. In response, each of the dogs went toward the container that a person pointed to.
Next, the person pointed to another container that had no food in it. In response, the dogs went toward the container again.
After having this experience, the person was directed to point to a third container that had food in it. However, when the person pointed toward the container, none of the dogs went towards the container.
Based on the actions of the dogs, this experiment supports that dogs do not immediately follow people’s pointing gestures. To follow a person’s command, the dog needs to believe that the individual is reliable. In this case, after the dogs were misled through being pointed to an empty food bowl, the dogs showed an immediate change in their behavior.
However, some individuals are skeptical of Takaoka’s study’s result due to concerns regarding how the study claims to know causation. For example, some state that dogs might prefer predictability and that there is no way to know what factor is causing the shift in the dogs’ behavior.
Yet, researchers are convinced with their study’s conclusion. Additionally, Takaoka’s team plans to conduct future studies to further support their hypothesis.
So, if you notice your dog acting restless or even aggressively toward someone unfamiliar, don’t take your chances. Listen to your dog’s instincts. Remember, they have sophisticated social intelligence.
Although some individuals doubt this study’s results, we know our dogs best, and they only want what is best for us. They are called man’s best friend for a reason.