Japanese researchers noted that babies have been shown to pick up on someone’s harmful intentions toward others, so they wondered if animals like dogs and capuchin monkeys might have the same intuitive abilities.
Previous research has shown that monkey pay close attention to interactions to see if others are being helpful or not, and dogs do the same. For example, in one other study, dogs showed a preference to those who appeared generous to a homeless person versus those who were not.
So in this new experiment, dogs watched their owners struggle to open a container. After numerous unsuccessful tries, another person stepped in to help, allowing the owner to complete the task. A third participant purposely turned away and did nothing to assist the dog’s owner.
Afterward, both bystanders extended their hands to the dog with a treat. Overwhelmingly, the dogs chose to approach the “helper” participants—although they grudgingly accepted treats from the non-helper if that was the only option presented.
Dogs’ longstanding relationship with humans has likely made them sensitive not just to owner behaviour, but also toward how other humans act, lead researcher Dr James Anderson of Kyoto University told Tech Times. And as the study shows, this judgment actually affects the way dogs behave to us humans.
So, the next time you feel yourself acting like a jerk, don’t be surprised if man’s best friend holds it against you. Yep, say goodbye to the slobbery kisses.
This article was first published on MensHealth.com