Special Reports

Study Shows Dogs Use Deception To Get Treats


Dogs have qualities we humans love about them. There is plenty of evidence that they recognize positive and negative emotions, and they are adorable and perfect companions. However, a recent study shows that dogs have one quality we are not aware of, our beloved canines know how to deceive.

New Scientist reported that dogs are capable of deception in order to get their favorite treats. Marianne Heberlein, who studies dog cognition at the University of Zürich, noticed an odd behavior in one of her dogs.

One would distract the other to steal its bed. Heberlein who studies dog cognition wondered if canines are also capable of a conniving behavior when dealing with humans. To find out if dogs engage in similar shenanigans with humans, Heberlein and a team of researchers paired 27 dogs with two different human partners, where one would give the dog a treat while the other will keep the treat.

The dogs were then presented with three boxes. The first had sausage in it; the second had dog biscuit while the third contained nothing. The dog quickly learned that cooperative partners would always give them the content of the box, while competitive partners would not give them any no matter what box they choose.

Over two days later, in each trial, the dog would lead the cooperative partner to the box with sausage more often than expected. While they "deceive" the competitive partner by leading them to an empty box.

The test showed that aside from displaying cognitive abilities, dogs also has an impressive behavior flexibility. Heberlein noted the canines do not just stick to the rules, but also think of options they have, the study suggests.

This demonstrates the dog's ability of tactical deception and can adjust their behavior depending on whom they are with, according to the Daily Mail. Heberlein also noted how rapidly, some dogs figure out the optimal behavior.

The question that remains is whether the canines are flexible enough to deceive in other contexts. The research shows that the next time you hide a treat from your dog, it may figure out a way to get what it wants.

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