New research shows dogs are more willing to trust a ‘new’ human than a familiar but ‘untrustworthy’ one.
If you’ve ever played the old ‘fake throw’ game where you pretend to throw a ball or other object for a dog to fetch…then you’ll know it’s a pretty short-lived game.
The dog very quickly susses out that you’re tricking them and refuses to take a step until they’ve ascertained you really have thrown something.
However a team of researchers at Kyoto University in Japan decided to try an experiment to see whether dogs who were tricked would tar all humans as being liars or whether they’d be willing to give a newcomer the benefit of the doubt.
The team came up with an experiment in which a human would point at a container and encourage the dog to go to it and get a treat. The same human would point to an identical container but this time the dog would find it empty.
What they discovered was that the third time the human pointed at a container the dog didn’t both checking it out because based on past experience, it would be empty – even though the third container did in fact contain a treat.
Regardless of breed, the dogs all reacted the same.
This short video below shows dogs do find magicians particularly tricky!
The evidence suggested that dogs which had gone through this ‘learning experience’ would mistrust any and all humans pointing to containers - but they were wrong.
When a new human, unknown to the dog, pointed to a container the dog would happily investigate to see if this human was trustworthy and happily scoffed the treat.
And no matter how many times they continued the game, tricking the dog with the empty container and then finding the dog wouldn’t play anymore, each dog was willing to give each new human their trust.
Guess that helps explain why rescue pets – even those that have been abused – are always willing to give new humans the chance to prove their trust…and thank goodness for that!