You are here

Dogs might be tricking us to get what they want…

Dog sitting down

We all know that cats can be rather clever in getting what they want from humans – some studies have even shown that they manipulate their meows to appeal to us when begging for food or a cuddle! However, a new study published in the journal Animal Cognition has shown that dogs can deliberately trick humans to get what they want.

Researchers at the University of Zurich in Switzerland studied 27 dogs, partnering them each with two women – one deemed as “co-operative” as they would allow the dog to eat treats, and the other deemed as “competitive” who would withhold treats. It was later determined that the dogs preferred the co-operative person.

“The dog had the options to lead one of these partners to one of the three potential food locations: one contained a favoured food item, the other a non-preferred food item and the third remained empty.” The researchers explained.

"After having led one of the partners, the dog always had the possibility of leading its cooperative owner to one of the food locations. Therefore, a dog would have a direct benefit from misleading the competitive partner since it would then get another chance to receive the preferred food from the owner.

"On the first test day, the dogs led the cooperative partner to the preferred food box more often than expected by chance and more often than the competitive partner.

"On the second day, they even led the competitive partner less often to the preferred food than expected by chance and more often to the empty box than the cooperative partner.

"These results show that dogs distinguished between the cooperative and the competitive partner, and indicate the flexibility of dogs to adjust their behaviour and that they are able to use tactical deception."