Dogs judge us when we make mistakes

Do you ever feel like your dog is judging you? You may be right…

New research has found that dogs are capable of recognising humans’ competence at completing certain tasks.

Researchers in Japan examined how both male and female dogs reacted to “competent” and “incompetent” people who attempted to open a clear container with a lid on it.

“Dogs are highly sensitive to human behaviour, and they evaluate us using both their direct experiences and from a third-party perspective,” the researchers wrote in the journal Behavioural Processes. “Dogs pay attention to various aspects of our actions and make judgements about, for example, social vs. selfish acts.”

To find out whether dogs also judge human competence, the researchers got two humans to attempt to open a container while being watched by dogs. The “competent” person easily opened the container, while, the “incompetent” person failed to get the lid off.

Next, both experimenters simultaneously tried to open another container which contained food or was empty.

When there was food, the dogs looked at the competent person longer than the incompetent one, and female dogs in particular were more likely to approach the competent person. The dogs showed no preference when the container was empty.

The findings suggest that dogs can recognise when a person is competent, and want to be around them — especially when they think there is something to be gained.

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