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Welcome to my news page dedicated to highlighting interesting new research or studies regarding dog behaviour in the modern world. This page will also include human interest stories regarding the human/dog relationship.

CAN DOGS TELL IF YOU ARE UNTRUSTWORTHY?
Dr. Akiko Takaoka (a researcher at Kyoto University in Japan) told the BBC that, in a recent study, their research has shown a dog can sense when a person is untrustworthy. The BBC reported the following.

In a study published in the journal Animal Cognition, a team led by Akiko Takaoka of Kyoto University in Japan has shown that a dog can sense when a person is untrustworthy. Their research indicates once a dog has decided a person is unreliable it stops following the cues they give.

The research team presented 34 dogs with three rounds of pointing.

In the first round, the experimenters accurately pointed to where food was hidden in a container. But in the second round, they pointed to an empty container.

In the third round, the same experimenter again pointed to the container with food.

But now the dog did not respond to the experimenter's cue. This suggests, says Takaoka, that the dogs could use their experience of the experimenter to assess whether they were a reliable guide.

After these rounds a new experimenter replicated the first round. Once again, the dogs followed this new person with interest.
Takaoka, says she was surprised that the dogs "devalued the reliability of a human" so quickly.

"Dogs have more sophisticated social intelligence than we thought. This social intelligence evolved selectively in their long life history with humans."

The next step, she adds, will be to test closely related species such as wolves. This would then reveal the "profound effects of domestication" on the social intelligence of dogs.

To me this study highlights something I frequently see in my work as a behaviourist. Owners who are not consistent with routines and rules create confusion and unnecessary behaviour issues for their dogs. This confusion greatly undermines a dog’s ability to trust an owner to keep them safe and in a following state of mind.

COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR DOG THE WAY NATURE INTENDED BY LEARNING WHEN TO LOVE AND WHEN TO LEAD

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