QuickCheck: Are dogs capable of judging how useful a human is to them?

DOGS – people have welcomed them into homes and considered them a part of the family for centuries, or at the very least a useful companion. We humans use them for all sorts of tasks, ranging from search and rescue work after disasters to morale-boosting companionship.

That said, people have often attributed many traits to dogs that are usually the realm of people – such as their ability to size humans up by how useful they are to them.

Is there any truth to this, though?



This is in fact true, and it was proven in an experiment conducted at Kyoto University by a team led by psychologist Hitomi Chijiiwa.

In the experiment, 60 dogs were shown two people trying to open a container; one was able to get the lid off after a few twists while the other tried and gave up.

The researchers then handed both actors a third container which contained a treat in some trials, but was empty in others. What they found was that female dogs spent more time looking at the person who had previously shown that they were able to pop the lid.

Chijiwa explained this in an interview with Scientific American, and then went on to say why this behaviour was more commonly found with female dogs as opposed to both genders.

“Female superiority in the social cognitive domain has been reported across many mammalian species including humans,” she said.

“For example, females look at their owners more frequently and longer than males when facing unsolvable tasks and female dogs solve significantly more tasks than males in social learning,” added Chijiwa.

So yes, if there's a female dog in your life – chances are she might be silently judging you.




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