Someone being mean to you? Don’t worry, they’re in your dog’s Burn Book.
A new study shows that canines are so loyal that they will snub strangers who are mean to their owners, reports Today.
Kyoto University in Japan found that dogs can tell when someone is being mean to a person they love and will react accordingly. Man’s best friend will even refuse food given to them by strangers whom they’ve seen reject their owners.
“We discovered for the first time that dogs make social and emotional evaluations of people regardless of their direct interest,” study leader Professor Kazuo Fujita told AFP.
The study, which will be published in Animal Behavior later in June, researched three groups of 18 dogs put in role-playing situations. In each instance, the dogs were left with their owners, who pretended to need help with a box. Two strangers would then approach the owner and either help the person, refuse the person, or remain neutral.
After the box was opened, with their help or not, the strangers would offer the dog a treat. In all of the groups, the dog proved to be more likely to accept food from the neutral and positive strangers – and ignore food from the mean ones. This shows that our pups aren’t out for themselves, they care about our happiness too.
“This ability is one of [the] key factors in building a highly collaborative society, and this study shows that dogs share that ability with humans,” said Fujita.
In humans, this is a trait that starts to develop around age 3.