We trust dogs for a lot of things. We believe that if they see a stranger lurking around the house, they will bark and notify us of a possible burglary. We also think of them as wonderful companions – much better than humans. But can dogs smell truth and lies? Well, a study published in the journal Animal Cognition has concluded that dogs can detect lies. Rather, they can detect a bad person as well as can stop listening to an untrustworthy person. It sounds like a superpower if we are talking about dogs, right? Well – the more we know.
The study included tricking the dogs, so it was designed to check whether a dog can be tricked or not. Generally, you can train a dog to pursue and examine by pointing at an object. This feature of the human-dog relationship was used during the examination.
Canine Trust Issues
For the experiment, the researcher pointed at a container of food. The dog ran to that container and was rewarded. However, the next time, the researcher pointed at an empty container. The dog ran with the expectation of finding food but found nothing in it. Once the dog was deceived, the researcher pointed out another container containing food. Well, this time the dog did not approach the container. They were aware, out of the previous experience, that the person is unreliable. When this same experiment was conducted on about 34 dogs, they reacted in the same way. It was clear that either dogs can detect lies or dogs have trust issues.
It is clear that if you lie before your dog, they might form a negative opinion about you. And due to that, they might have trust issues too. According to Takaoka, dogs have high social intelligence and this might the reason why dogs can detect lies. Such an evolutionary advantage must have taken place due to the long history of dogs mixing with more socially advanced beings – humans.
According to John Bradshaw, who works for the University of Bristol in the UK, the study might actually suggest that dogs realize predictability and expect it. If outcomes become inconsistent, they get stressed.
The researchers wish to do the same experiment, but this time, they would like to do it on wolves, who are genetically closest to dogs. Why? To find out the deviation and look at how much of profound effect domestication had on dogs.