3 min read (Articles narrated by Mabel)
I don’t usually like to call anyone “bad”, but there are certain actions people do that can be considered good or bad. Dogs are known for being loving and forgiving, no matter how a human treats them. However, research actually suggests that dogs can clearly differentiate a “good” person from a “bad” person.
The Research Behind it
To test this theory, a study was done to see how animals reacted after observing different situations. The dogs watched a person struggling to open a jar, and a volunteer was beside them. In the first scenario, the volunteer gladly helped the person open the jar. In the second one, the volunteer was passive. Then, the third time, the volunteer outright refused to help at all.
After each scenario, the volunteer offered a treat to the dogs. The dogs happily accepted the treats from the helpful volunteer and they also took treats from the passive volunteer. However, they would not take treats from the “mean” volunteer. They saw that person be mean to someone else, so they didn’t trust them.
Another study strengthens the claim that dogs can tell when someone is untrustworthy or not. In this study, there were two containers. One was empty and one had treats in it. This study also had three rounds to it.
The first time, a human pointed to the container with the treats in it, and the dog happily went to that container to get the food. However, the second time, the human pointed to the empty container, and the dog was upset to see that there were no treats! Then, the third time, the person pointed to the container with the treats again, but the dog no longer trusted them. They remembered that the person had lied to them in the second round.
So, dogs are actually much smarter than you think we are! We can tell when someone can’t be trusted, which is why we often act strange around certain people. If your dog is uneasy around someone, it’s possible that person isn’t trustworthy.
Paying Attention to Dog Body Language
When your dog interacts with a “bad” person, it’s important to take note of their body language. We can’t speak to humans, so we have to use other ways to tell them how we’re feeling.
If your dog is uncomfortable around someone, you may notice some unusual behaviors. These can include subtle hints such as lowered tails, tucked tails, licking lips, or sweaty paws. Growling and snarling are more obvious ways to tell, but it’s better to catch your dog’s more subtle behaviors before they get too upset.
Instead of getting angry at your dog whenever they act out, consider what could be bothering them. Oftentimes, they’re just trying to protect you from someone that seems untrustworthy. So, maybe you should listen to your dog more often because we actually know a lot more than most people give us credit for!
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