Dogs may be man's best friend -- but not if that man is mean to their owner.
Japanese researchers learned that dogs don't like people who behave negatively towards their owner and may not even accept treats from them when offered. That ability to co-operate socially is seen in very few species, like humans and select primates.
For the study researchers at Kyoto University tested three groups of 18 dogs. In the first group, the dog's owner asked a complete stranger for help opening a box, but the stranger would refuse. In the second group, the dog's owner would ask a stranger for help, and the stranger would assist him. Then in the third group, the owner opened the box himself without seeking the help of the stranger. In all three groups there was also a second stranger present who remained neutral.
After the dogs witnessed these scenes, they were offered treats by the two strangers. Dogs who saw their owners helped or not interact with the strangers showed no preference. But dogs who saw their owners snubbed by strangers were much more likely to choose a treat from the other, neutral stranger.
"We discovered for the first time that dogs make social and emotional evaluations of people regardless of their direct interest," the study's lead researcher said. "This ability is one of key factors in building a highly collaborative society and this study shows that dogs share that ability with humans."
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Dogs don't like people who are mean to their owners
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