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Study Finds That Dogs Can Sense If A Person Is Good Or Bad

Dogs are way smarter than we give them credit for.

Sometimes we can be pretty quick to write off our own pets as pretty dim while we watch them lick themselves for twenty minutes or run to the front door when a doorbell rings on TV. And they aren't exactly giving us Einstein vibes when they sit in front of a window and bark at their reflection.

But as it turns out, our pups are full of more than just unconditional love; they're also full of social awareness. In fact, one study has confirmed that dogs are actually pretty good at getting a read on people, and can tell if someone is trustworthy or not.

A team led by Akiko Takaoka of Kyoto University in Japan conducted a study to see if dogs will still trust "unreliable humans."

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Published in the journal Animal Cognition, researchers essentially tricked 34 dogs. But don't worry, it was all in the name of science. And it was also totally safe and humane.

Any dog owner knows that if you point out an object to your dog, chances are they'll run towards it to do some investigating. In this study, the researchers used that same "go look at that thing!" gesture to see if dogs will trust just anyone.

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The 34 participating doggos took part in three rounds of "pointing".

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In the first round, a researcher pointed out containers to the dogs which were full of food. No lie there. However, in the second round, they pointed to a disappointingly empty container.

In the third round, the container full of food was again pointed out to the dogs. But seemingly going off that whole "fool me once" ideology, the dogs stayed put, using their experience to assess that the researcher was not entirely reliable.

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All 34 dogs refused to go to the container of food in the third round.

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According to Takota, this proves that dogs are actually pretty quick to "devalue the reliability of a human."

"Dogs have more sophisticated social intelligence than we thought," she told BBC News. "This social intelligence evolved selectively in their long life history with humans."

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Simply put, if you lie to your dog, they won't be so keen on trusting you right away again.

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Researchers say they plan on repeating the experiment, but this time will swap out dogs for wolves, a close relative of the doggo.

As Takota explained, this is all in the pursuit of studying "the profound effect of domestication" on the social intelligence of dogs.

h/t: BBC News, Animal Cognition

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