Dogs are able to understand human intentions and respond accordingly, a new study published Wednesday suggests.
Results of a behavioral study presented in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, suggest that dogs show more patience when humans are clumsy or unable to feed them, compared to when they are unwilling and prefer to be teased.
Researchers at Clever Dog Labs at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna closely monitored the reactions of nearly 100 dogs to people who fed them pieces of sausage.
In the study, the researchers behaved differently with the dogs – sometimes they dropped treats awkwardly so that their four-legged friends couldn’t reach them, and sometimes they teased the dogs by holding a sausage in front of them and quickly pulling it away.
In one interaction with the dogs, the researchers also tried to push a sausage through a plexiglass window.
The results indicate that dogs show more patience with untrained people than with inappropriate people.
Previous research has shown a close social bond between humans and dogs, but scientists have limited understanding of how dogs understand human intentions.
A new study tracked the dogs’ body movements using eight cameras while researchers offered the dogs food in different ways.
The researchers tracked the dogs’ reactions during the 30 seconds they had to wait for food.
The researchers were able to track the dogs’ behavioral patterns using a machine learning algorithm trained to detect and track specific points on the dogs’ bodies.
A new study found that dogs reacted differently to the “clumsiness”, “teasing” and “incompetence” exhibited by scientists.
Researchers say that when teased, dogs looked away, lay down in frustration or ran to their owners more often than if the behaviors were just clumsy.
They say that dogs were least able to observe, while humans showed complete inability to push a sausage through a window.
“Our study provides evidence that dogs discriminate between seemingly similar human actions that led to the same result, but differed significantly in terms of ulterior intentions,” the researchers wrote in the study.
“The dogs behaved as if they understood the hidden intentions, such as waiting longer for food to arrive from a clumsy person than from a nagging human,” they noted.
The researchers say that at the end of the study, as a reward for their patience, each dog was rewarded with two treats without being teased.